Discovering Elderflower Champagne

Discovering Elderflower Champagne

Posted by The Wares Team on 21st Jun 2020

If you’re fed up of lockdown now and craving a time when you can meet up with friends and family without any restrictions on numbers, you’re not alone. Maybe you have a big celebration date coming up, such as a wedding, engagement, anniversary or a ‘big’ birthday, or perhaps that date has passed and you’ve had to postpone it for the time being. If all of this sounds familiar, then it might help to spend some time planning that celebration day, and even preparing some things in advance.

It might seem strange to do this, but actually focusing on something tangible and real could lift your mood and make you feel a little bit better about having to miss out on seeing all of your friends and loved ones for so long. In today’s blog post, we’re going to look at something really rather special that you can make right now - and if you can bear to leave it until your celebration day, you’ll soon be hooked on making it every year. We’re talking about elderflower champagne; an easy to make drink that will really impress you.

Get your glass bottles ready

Before you get started on making some elderflower champagne, it’s worth talking about the bottles that you’ll use to store the champagne. Because this will be a fizzy champagne with a bit of a kick to it, just like real champagne, you need to ensure that your bottles are strong and have a secure means of stopping them up. Clip-top bottles are ideal for this purpose.

Don’t be tempted to re-use old bottles with plastic lids as you could find you have a small explosion on your hands if the fizz is a little bit too much! Check out our extensive range of glass bottles to ensure that you are well-stocked before you start to make your elderflower champagne. With fast delivery, any bottles you buy should be with you by the time you’re ready to move your champagne from your fermenting bucket and into the bottles.

What else do you need for elderflower champagne?

As mentioned above, you will need a couple of large fermenting buckets with lids, preferably with airlocks too. You’ll also need some muslin for straining your champagne after the fermentation stage, and a sachet of dry champagne yeast. If your local shops are not yet open or you are self-isolating or shielding, these items are readily available online.

In terms of actual ingredients, you will need 2kg sugar, 8 unwaxed lemons and of course, the all-important elderflower heads. You’ll need around 20 large heads for this recipe, and you should try to pick them early in the morning when they are dry. Don’t pick heads that are already going over, or heads that have not yet come out in flower.

The elderflower champagne method

Before you start, make sure that one fermenting bucket has been properly sterilised - the easiest way to do this is to use Campden tablets. Once sterilised, add the sugar to the bucket and then pour in 5 litres of boiled water. Stir to fully dissolve the sugar, and then add a further 5 litres of cold water.

Shake the elderflower heads vigorously to get rid of bugs, but don’t wash them. Then use a fork to strip off the elderflower flowers from the stalks. When the water has cooled slightly, add the elderflowers and the zest and juice of the lemons, with the sachet of yeast (this should be 5gms). If your bucket has an airlock, put the lid on firmly, but if it doesn’t have an airlock, just rest the lid on the top of the bucket. Leave in a cool place for six days, to allow the fermentation process to complete.

After six days, boil your muslin to sterilise it, and sterilise the second fermenting bucket. Then strain the elderflower champagne through the muslin into the second bucket, leaving behind as much sediment as possible. Allow the bucket to stand for a few hours to let any remaining sediment settle.

Siphon the elderflower champagne into clean, sterilised glass bottles and seal. Leave in a cool, dark place for 5 days and then open the bottles to check the fizz levels and let out any CO2 build-up. If the champagne seems particularly fizzy, it’s wise to store it in the fridge to slow down any further fermentation and CO2 build-up. Remember - always use bottles that are designed for fizzy drinks, to avoid unfortunate accidents!

We hope we’ve inspired you to make some elderflower champagne. Elderflowers are abundant right now in hedgerows and gardens, and are easy to identify. Check online or ask for advice if you’re unsure, of course. And if you have access to plenty of elderflowers, why not make a batch of elderflower gin too, as well as good old-fashioned elderflower cordial? Be sure to share your photos and stories with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - we love to see your preserving projects!