Elderflower Champagne

Suddenly the  creamy heads of elderflower are splashed all over the hedgerows. Time for elderflower champagne, that delight  of summer that converts the cat’s pee smell of the flower  into  the extraordinary, flowery flavour of  muscat. My granny used to make this non-(or very low) alcoholic fizz. It seems astonishing to me that the dainty, lacy elderflower contains enough yeast to generate an awesome force  of fizz. It was not unknown for Granny’s champagne to erupt like a geyser when the screw top was taken off the bottle, spraying the kitchen in fragrant liquid. I never found Granny’s recipe, if she ever had one. This one is based on one I came across in one of the treasures of my library of cookery books, Home Made Wines, Syrups and Cordials, published in 1987 by The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (price: Three Shillings & Sixpence). There, among recipes for Coltsfoot Wine, Cowslip Wine, Metheglin, Milk Punch and Treacle Posset, is this treasure. I have adapted the original minimally.

Makes 4.5 litres

24 heads of elderflower

680g caster sugar

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

4.5 lt water

I lemon

Pick heads when in full bloom and put into a bowl or bucket  (I use my jam pan). Peel the lemon with no pith on the skin, and add the skin to the elderflower heads. Squeeze the lemon and add the juice. Add the sugar, vinegar and water. Leave for 24 hours. Strain into bottles cap an d leave for 10-14 days. It should be ready to drink. It may be a good idea to check after a week, and release any build up of  fizz.

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