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Elderflower champagne

Elderflower champagne
  • Drink
  • medium
  • Makes 8 litres
  • 30 minutes, plus 1 week to ferment

PT30M

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When sourcing elderflowers, always try and pick from relatively high up to ensure they're 'untouched' by four-legged animals! You will be removing any bugs before using the flowers, so pick full, clean flower heads without any bug infestations. It’s easy to get carried away, but only pick what you need – the flowers you leave on the plant will turn into elderberries later in the year, which are an amazing ingredient.

When brewing anything, it's paramount that all your equipment is clean and sterile – any dirt or residue can heavily impact the final flavour.

Ingredients

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  • 15 sprigs of fresh elderflower
  • 2l boiling water
  • 6l water
  • 1kg sugar
  • 3 lemons, peel sliced off in strips
  • 5g of yeast, (buy champagne yeast from homebrewing shops or websites)
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Method

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1
Clean the elderflower heads, removing any dead flowers, cobwebs and insects
2
Dissolve the sugar in 2 litres of boiling water, then cover and set aside until cool
3
Once the sugar syrup has cooled to room temperature, pour it into a large, clean 10 litre container. Add the rest of the water, the lemon peel, the juice from 1 of the lemons, the elderflowers and the champagne yeast. Give the mixture a good stir, cover with a muslin cloth and leave to ferment at room temperature for 3–4 days. Give it a little stir everyday – you will notice it starting to fizz and bubble as the fermentation process begins
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4
For this next stage, you will need 4x 2-litre plastic screw top bottles and a funnel. It is important to use plastic bottles, as the fermentation process produces carbon dioxide, which is what makes your ‘champagne’ sparkling but can also make bottles explode. The plastic bottles (as opposed to glass ones) have a little give so can expand a little, plus the screw-top lid isn’t as airtight as a cork
5
Pass the champagne through a muslin cloth, then decant into the bottles using a funnel. Tightly screw on the lids. The second stage of fermentation occurs in the sealed bottles and is what gives your champagne its fizz; carbon dioxide builds up and has nowhere to go, so it lies in wait for when the bottle is opened, causing that rush of bubbles. As mentioned, this can cause bottles to explode, so even though using plastic bottles minimises the risk, it is still safe to store them in a cool dry place like an outdoor shed or garage. Placing something over the bottles such as a cardboard box is a good idea to reduce the sticky mess if one does burst
6
Leave the bottles for another few days, checking each day and carefully opening each lid to let some of the gas escape if needed. After a couple of days the second fermentation should have finished, but storing them in a cold room or the fridge will stop the fermentation completely
7
Enjoy the refreshing sparkling drink as it is or serve with tonic water, ice and a sprig of mint
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