Sunday 27 May 2007

Elderflower Champagne


Today I've made elderflower champagne, at least, I've started the process. I've used Roger Phillip's Wild Food recipe as a base but because I've have some bad experiences with things going off have adjusted his instructions to include some preparations for sterilising the equipment.

4 elderflower heads in full bloom (I used six)
4.5 litres (1 gallon) water
650g (1.5lb) sugar
2 tablespoons (about 30ml) white wine vinegar.
1 lemon, preferably organic

Sterilise your bucket with brewing equipment sterilising fluid, baby bottle steriliser (Milton or one of the generics) or if all else fails wash out thoroughly twice with boiling water.

Bring the full quantity of water to boil in a large pan and dissolve the sugar in it. Allow to boil for a minute or two then cover the pan and allow to cool to below blood heat (37C)

Put the unwashed and dry flower heads in the clean bucket with the juice of a well washed lemon. Throw the lemon shells into the bucket too, then add the vinegar and the cool sugar water. Whatever you do, don't add the water too hot as this recipe relies on the natural yeast present in the flowers for its fizz and hot water will kill this.

Leave to steep, covered, for four days then bottle in scrupulously clean screw top bottles (old plastic pressure lemonade bottles are fine) or corked bottles with the corks tied down.

Ready to drink in a week or ten days and should be finished up within the month. Serve chilled.

Watch this space for progress.


The cat has been propositioned by our lady of the night. Convinced there is a red blooded male in the house she has been calling outside most of the day. Bagheera, who lost most of his naughty bits a good while ago, is most bemused and has come rushing to me for protection and reassurance. Let's hope no one else will oblige her either, the last kittens have mysteriously disappeared and we don't really want any more this year.


Anonymous said...

I'm about to start some elderflower champagne and I've decided to follow your recipe, but just wondered how your batch is doing. I'm trying to get encourage some of my bride-to-be to make it for their wedding receptions!!

Catofstripes said...

Hi Dee,

I wrote the recipe up last year when I made it and it worked very well, we had some lovely frothy fizz. You can see a picture here

Unfortunately this year I've had problems. Part of the charm of the recipe is that it relies on the natural yeast on the flowers, the fizz seems to arise magically because nothing is added, but the first batch I tried didn't work at all and I'm still waiting on a second batch.

For something where it must be ready by a specific date I'd recommend using a little brewing yeast (or even bread yeast) to make sure that fermentation takes place but I've never done this myself so can't give much advice based on experience. The other thing to remember is that it's quite light in alcohol and will not keep for very long once it's made, probably best stored in a cool dry place and used up within a few months. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting lots of questions about non fermentation of elderflower champagne - I think its because that Hugh Fearnly Twittering-Stool did a programme that brewed an alchoholic version. Good to see the purist recipe and method here.

Catofstripes said...

Oh I don't think HFW is so bad. Adding the yeast does ensure a ferment after all.

All fermented elderflower champagne is alcoholic.

What controls the alcohol volume is the relatively small amount of sugar involved. The yeasts can't ferment for long, they run out of food so not much alcohol is produced.

There's a lot more about the chemistry of brewing I could bore you with but this probably isn't the place.

Like your blog by the way, Mr. Muncher.

Anonymous said...

And I like yours too catofstripe