elderflower champagne

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The first batch of elderflower champagne is brewing and will hopefully be ready for sampling over the Bank Holiday Camp-out weekend. There are lots of recipies out there, all based on a similar theme but this is how we generally make it.

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We ventured out early one Saturday morning and cut about 15 good sized heads. The earlier you collect them in the day the more pollen the flowers will have. This means more brewing power.

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Once back in the kitchen, we mixed 4 litres of boiling water with 800g of sugar into a large, clean container until it had dissolved and then added another two litres of cold water. You can buy alcohol brewing tubs at fairly reasonable prices. We then added the zest and the juice of 4 lemons. It doesn’t matter if the pips get in at this stage as it will all be strained later on.

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Once most of the stalks had been removed – they say the stalks can cause the mixture to become bitter so we take as much off as we can – they can then be added to the mixture and the whole thing can be given a stir with a wooden spoon.

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You then cover it and leave for 4 days in a cool place to see what happens…

After the 4 days you should see the top of the mixture becoming a bit fuzzy. If it doesn’t then add a pinch of yeast. Some say to add champagne yeast but we use the dried stuff we use for the bread maker and it works just fine.

After a week it should be looking more like there is something going on and you may even start to see it fizzing. Strain through a clean muslin or something similar and pour into empty fizzy drink bottles to start off with. The reason for this is it will become very fizzy and you’ll need to let those extra bubbles out every day or so by opening the top carefully and then replacing.

After a few weeks it’ll be ready to pour into glass bottles to make it look a bit prettier. Don’t use screw top bottles, use the flip top ones as they are less likely to explode!

Decide by taste if its ready. The longer it has been brewing the more alcoholic and dryer it becomes but the most important thing is to make sure you enjoy it!