Summer is upon us and we can all use a cool drink as we soak up the sun on our porches, patios, and backyards. But what if I told you that you can make your own, flavourful, and naturally fizzy beverage out of flowers, Elderflowers to be exact.
Like so many Europeans, I grew up kicking off the summer with the yearly ritual of Elderflower picking and fermentation, followed by bottling this most fragrant elixir thereby building a supply to last us well into the summer months.
You've probably noticed Elderflower cordials springing up on your supermarket shelves or have seen elderflower-flavoured cocktails appearing at high-end bars lately. They are definitely growing in popularity and for good reason; the taste and aroma of Elderflower is absolutely intoxicating and its sweetly-scented flowers make for an aromatic and sharp thirst-quenching drink.
I am not exaggerating when I say that this is possibly the most refreshing and flavourful summer drink there is. Lucky you, I am now going to show you how to make the real McCoy, your very own knock-out bubbly that will put the expensive store-brought stuff to shame.
TRADITIONAL ELDERFLOWER CHAMPAGNE
makes 5 x 750 ml bottles of champagne
- You can find the sweetly scented, creamy white flowers of the elder tree blooming from around the end of May through to the end of June (keep your eyes peeled as different trees bloom at different times) in woodland, scrub, parks, etc.
- Pick the flowers on a warm and dry day, making sure the flowers are in full loom and have a pleasant scent
- Snip the stem just below the large heads (leaving the leaves behind)
about 10 large elderflower heads
500 g white sugar
1 large lemon (can use more if you like more it lemony)
8 grams fresh yeast ( you can find it in any bakery that bakes on the premises, don't use dry. If you cannot find fresh yeast, follow the recipe minus the yeast. the difference is that it will take longer to ferment, adding days to the process.)
5 L water
1. In 1 or 2 large wide-mouthed demijohns or glass vases (or any other container that is made of glass and has a wide opening) place the flower heads at the bottom of the container
2. Top off with sugar
3. Squeeze the lemon over the sugar, then slice it and place the slices of lemon on top of the sugar
4. Add water until it just about covers the flowers and the sugar. Leave overnight to macerate
5. The next day, add the fresh yeast and top off the container with cool water
6. Cover the opening of the container with gauze (or a large plate) and leave outdoors in a warm and sunny place to ferment for 2-4 days giving the mixture a stir with a wooden spoon twice a day
7. You will know it is ready when the fermentation process has turned the once white flowers into a brownish sludge but most importantly, upon stirring with the spoon, you can see and hear the fizz/bubbles. give it a taste and if the fizziness is to your liking, it's done, otherwise leave it to ferment for longer until the preferred level of fizz is achieved.
|day 1: maceration|
|day 3: beginning of fermentation|
1. Strain the flowers and lemon slices
2. Use a funnel to fill your bottles
3. Close bottles tightly
4. Keep refrigerated (should keep for a few weeks)