Sunday, 24 June 2012

Capture the sunshine

I normally try to make a batch of elderflower 'champagne' around the time of the summer solstice. This year I'm a few days late, but as the sun has finally been shining and drying up all the rain (and flooding)   today seemed like the perfect day.

Here is the recipe I am using, which is based on one by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and with the knowledge acquired through explosive trial and error from previous batches.

Makes about 6 litres

4 litres hot water
700g sugar
juice & zest of 4 lemons
2tbsp white wine vinegar
about 15 elderflower heads in full bloom
a pinch of dried yeast (this may not be necessary)

  • When picking elderflowers avoid any that are going brown & don't pick on roadside. Do not wash the flower heads but give them a shake to remove insects.
  • Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (sterilised bucket is perfect) and stir until sugar dissolves. Then top up until you have 6 litres in total.
  • Add the lemon juice and zest, vinegar and flower heads. Stir gently.
  • Cover with a clean muslin and leave in a cool airy place to ferment for a couple of days.
  • After a couple of days check to see if it is becoming slightly foamy and starting to ferment. If not add a pinch of yeast.
  • Leave the mixture to ferment covered with the muslin for a further 4 days.
  • Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and then pour into sterilised bottles. I now use plastic bottles for safety, as it can be very explosive stuff.
  • Seal bottles and leave to ferment for at least a week. I recommend 'burping' the bottles daily for a week to avoid exploding bottles. When you are ready to drink, chill well before serving. Not only will it taste better, but it reduces the amount you waste to bubbling over.

If you're not into the alcoholic stuff here's a recipe for elderflower cordial that sounds delicious.

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