Free Champagne!!!

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"Booze can get you through times of no money better than money can get you through times of no booze", or something to that effect, once said by Fat Freddy or his wayward puddy cat. In times of no money but lots and lots of sunshine and abundant, lush vegetation, the gifts of nature seem ever more generous. Trends seem to come from nowhere, or some celebrity chef does something and then we all follow suit. I'm following in the hippy footsteps of Hugh Fernley Whattisname and well on the road to my own elderflower champagne. Out walking in the lovely Limerick countryside I could smell the heady sweetness of elderflowers in the air. I grabbed some scissors later and headed back out the country roads and filled up bags for champers and cordial. The cordial was such a hit it's almost gone, 3 large bottles went down a treat with my kids, surprise surprise, and friends. It's light and refreshing and made only with lemons, limes, oranges, water and of course elderflowers. You can freeze it in plastic bottles too. 

The champers is a slightly different animal. It's made in a big plastic bucket or bin and takes no effort at all. The only work is in washing and sterilising bottles, but it's fun to make either way you look at it. I have read about bottles exploding so take precautions when storing this. It takes only two weeks from making it to drinking time. I have never tasted as a finished product but I do find it very sweet. I would probably make another batch with half the sugar. I hope this is ready to drink at a party for Friday night. At about 4 percent proof it's not too strong, free booze is free booze after all

Makes about 6 litres

Ingredients

  • About 24-30 elderflower heads, in full bloom
  • 2kg sugar
  • 4 litres hot water
  • Juice and zest of four lemons
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)

Method: How to make elderflower champagne

1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.

2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.

3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.

4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilised screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).

5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for a further eight days before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place.

5 thoughts on “Free Champagne!!!

  1. Great post Val, I’d love to do that some day. To be honest, I haven’t a clue what elderflower smells like!
    I’d imagine the cordial won’t taste near as sweet when it’s ready. The yeast is going to eat the sugar after all. Chances are the yeast and sugar are in a perfect ratio; if you reduce the sugar you might run risk of having no fizz or impairing the flavour?

  2. Val,
    I made that last year and the year before, i threw the whole lot down the sink, it works slightly better in the plastic bottles than the glass, i have no idea why. And under no circumstnces reduce the amount of sugar or it wont ferment properly… big whittingstall fan with plenty of free elder flower, AM

  3. Hi Anne-Marie
    Thanks for that. Why did you make it for two years if it was not nice? Did it not work out properly? I read lots of positive comments about it so it’s worth a shot anyway. One bottle exploded last night but in a closed box so no big deal. The cordial was less fuss but really yummy

  4. I LOVE elderflower cordials, champagnes etc. I think I’ve missed the season this year stupidly but I’m going to be organised for next year. You’ve inspired me!

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