Around where I live the air is heady with their scent on these warm summer evenings…which makes a change from the stink of bloody rapeseed flowers, I can tell you.
Eve swears blind that it’s Elderflowers that give her such terrible bug-eyed hay-fever at this time of year.
I’m not completely convinced that the Elder is the culprit, but regardless of that, let’s all try and make her feel a bit better by harvesting a few creamy heads of flowers and putting them to some use:
This is a simple recipe and it’ll be the first time that I’ve used wine yeast in many a year.
Here’s the ingredient list for a 10 or 11% version:
- 700g sugar
- 2 pints of Elderflowers (Use a table fork to strip the flowers from the stems first)
- The juice of a lemon
- 4.5 litres water (2 of which should be boiling)
- A 5g packet of Champagne yeast
Get yourself a pan that’s at least 2 litres and put the Elderflowers into it, then pour over 2 litres of boiling water, add the lemon juice and the sugar.
Stir ’til the sugar’s dissolved, but don’t mash up the flowers – do it gently.
Let the whole lot stand in the pan for as many hours as you fancy. I managed 2 hours before I got bored, but you can leave it overnight if you like.
Pour the whole lot into a sterilized demijohn and top up with cold water – only go as far as far as the shoulder of the demijohn. If you get some flowers in the demijohn – no worries, if you don’t – no worries, either.
If the demijohn isn’t too warm to the touch, put half the pack of Champagne yeast in and fit the airlock
Leave to ferment in a warmish (18-25C) place until the gravity stops dropping or there are no more bubbles coming through the airlock. It’s important that you let your champagne ferment right out – otherwise you could get exploding bottles, which sounds fun – but I can assure you, isn’t.
When finished fermenting and the champagne has dropped clear, siphon it off into cleaned sterilised champagne bottles, fizzy pop bottles or beer bottles and add roughly three-quarters of a teaspoon of sugar to each 750ml bottle before sealing (Do the maths if your bottles are smaller or larger.)
Leave to carbonate in a warm place for a week and then store somewhere cool to condition for another week or so.
Enjoy served cool in champagne flutes – if you’re feeling poncey.