Elderflower is the gift that keeps on giving at this time of year. There's so much of it about you can try all sorts of things with it, but elderflower champagne is definitely one of our favourites.
It's pretty straight forward, tastes great and you get to have a go at a bit of fermentation too, so you get to impress your mates and feel pretty smug about the whole thing.
So, obviously it's not actually champagne, but it does get a little boozy and tastes just as good! This recipes makes around 4 litres so you'll have plenty to around.
10 large elderflower heads, unwashed
750g caster sugar
1l boiled water
3l cups cold water (preferably filtered)
Juice and rind of 2 large lemons
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 small pinch yeast (optional)
1. Pick through your elderflowers, removing any stowaway bugs and the thicker stems. It's important that you don't wash them, as they will have some natural yeasts on them which will help with the fermentation process.
2. In a very large bowl, dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, and then add the cold water, lemon, vinegar and elderflowers and give it a good stir.
3. Cover your bowl with a clean tea towel or muslin cloth and let it sit at room temperature for 48 hours, stirring twice a day. By the end of the twp days thee should be signs of fermentation like bubbles or frothiness when you stir. If nothing's happened, add the tiniest pinch of yeast to give it a kick and wait a little longer.
4. Once you see the signs of fermentation, strain out the flowers and lemon rind using a fine sieve or muslin, and transfer the remaining liquid into clean bottles (either plastic screw top or glass/ceramic ones with flip tops). Leave around an inch of headspace at the top of the bottle before securing the top.
5. Leave at room temperature for a week, 'burping' your bottles at least once a day. This is important, as if you don't the gas build up may cause an exploding bottle (I say this from experience, mopping sticky stuff off your ceiling is no fun - if you want to try something a little less risky, go for an elderflower cordial instead). After a week, move them to the fridge and continue the daily burps for another week.
6. After the two weeks have passed, your elderflower champagne should be ready! It will keep for a good few months so you can enjoy it's light sweet fizz all summer long!
Words by Abi Himan