Friday, 1 June 2012

Self made elderflower champaign - champagne de sureau

self made elderflower champaign
The smell of my elderflower bushes in my back garden is mesmerising me since two weeks. They started flowering on the very top which is unreachable but the good weather also opened the lower flowers. It is time to make some elderflower champagne or should I say champaign?!

This is the third year and after the huge success of my last year's recipe I haven't changed it at all. First i prepared a huge bucket of 15 litres or three gallons of sugar water which i brought to boil. the 3kilo of sugar gave me an approximate Specific Gravity (S.G.) of 1.080. This should be enough for a final alcohol content of 10.5%.

While my sugar solution was cooling down I got a long ladder, a long hook and a bowl. After cutting down all sting nettles around the bushes i was able to erect my ladder and climb up to get the elderflowers. Greenfly likes them too so i selected mostly clean and importantly fresh and open florets,
After half an hour the bowl was full of elderflower (approx 1lb) and my clothes covered in pollen.

Back in the kitchen the solution had cooled down to blood temperature. I added the zest and juice of 6-8 lemons. All elderflowers went into a muslin back but an old pillow cover would do it too. Tied it up and threw it into the solution. The good thing about elder is that it has its own yeast. If it shouldnt sparkle after a day i will add a pinch of bread yeast. Stirr daily and remove the flowers after 3-4 days to avoid bitterness.

After 7 to 10 days the S.G. should have fermented to 1.010 to .005. It will then be ready to bottle but not earlier than that as the bottles could explode. Sterilise and rinse old champagne or other pressure proof bottles. Seal it with crown corks or in my case fliptops and wait until the remaining sugar has fermented into more alcohol and bubbles.  Drinkable immediately but time will improve slightly.

À la vôtre.

cost: limes £1, sugar £3. some steriliser (campden tablets £1 or 15min chlorine but rinse well)
Get appropriate bottles. do not buy I#ea fliptops. My did explode 2years ago.
read Ben Turner - Home Made Wines and Beers for some technical knowhow

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm...Sounds delicious and one longs to have a cold glass of own home-made elderflower champaign :).
    Thanks for a worth readable article and I learnt much.

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