Make the most of nature’s bounty by collecting the abundant elderflowers laying a frothy white carpet throughout the countryside in May. Collect the blooms in warm, dry weather and check carefully for insects before using. Elderflowers can be used in a number of recipes but their sharp, tangy flavour is ideal for refreshing summer drinks.
Swing top bottles of home made elderflower champagne
To make about 6 litres
- 4 litres of hot water
- 700g sugar
- 4 lemons, juiced and zested
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 15 fully blooming elderflower heads
- Pinch of dried yeast, if necessary
You will need a large, very clean container such as a new bucket. Add the hot water and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then add cold water until the total volume reaches 6 litres.
Gently stir in the juice and zest of the lemons, vinegar and elderflower heads. Cover the container with a clean muslin cloth and put it in a cool, well ventilated spot to ferment for a couple of days. At this point take a peek. The brew should be starting to foam and be obviously fermenting. If it seems to need a helping hand, add the yeast.
Allow to continue fermenting for another four days, still under the muslin cloth. Line a sieve with a fresh piece of muslin to strain the liquid through before decanting into sterilised swing top bottles. Once sealed, allow the champagne to ferment for another week and store in a cool, dry place for up to six months. The champagne should be served very cold.
If you like the citrusy flavour of elderflower but prefer a non-alcoholic drink, this cordial is a delicious alternative:
Elderflower cordial in swing top bottles
To make 2 litres
- 25 fully blooming elderflower heads
- 3 unwaxed lemons, juiced and zested
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1kg sugar
In a large, clean bowl pour 1.5 litres of boiling water over the elderflowers and the zest of the oranges and lemon. Cover and leave to infuse overnight.
Line a sieve with a fresh piece of muslin to strain the liquid through into a saucepan, along with the orange and lemon juice and the sugar. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pour the syrup through a funnel into sterilised swing top bottles then seal, leave to cool and refrigerate. Serve with cold still or sparkling water and plenty of ice.