Elderflower Champagne (Part 1)

For the last 3 years I have made up batches of elderflower champagne and beer. First year was spectacular, second year ok. Last year I had a burst of 30 degree days that blew up a bunch of my bottles but what was left was fantastic.

On the weekend I noticed that the local elderflower flowers where starting to get to the point where they were ready for making a batch of elderflower champagne. So on the Sunday morning which is the best time to pick them I ducked out nice and early and grabbed about 50 elderflower heads which took me about 10 minutes.

50 heads makes up around 20 liters which is what I base most of my brewing on as I have this size food grade bucket. So I sterilised the 20 liter bucket I use for bucket brewing added hot water and couple of kg of white sugar and just for something different half a kilogram of brown sugar to add a slightly different flavour.

In goes some white wine vinegar

My daughter watched as I removed as much stem as possible to reduce bitterness just leaving mostly flowers.

My parents where down on Friday so I got a nice big bag of lemons which was timely. Cut up the equivalent of 8 big lemons. Juiced them and dropped the juiced lemons in as well. A lot of recipes recommend that you zest the lemon but this is very much bucket brewing and I have tried both ways and can see no difference in taste so I take the easy way out.

 

Wait till the water is around body temperature and add the elderflowers.

Stir through with a sterilised spoon (always use some boiling water to sterilise anything you use in this process including knifes and chopping boards, if you put down a spoon sterilise it again before reuse)

Cover with a clean tea towel or other cloth and stir every morning or night (remember to sterilise the spoon each time)

I have left it in a warm spot in the kitchen (it smells great) and I will check it in a few days and If it is not bubbling from natural yeast fermenting I will add some champagne yeast to it.(more posts to follow up to bottling and of course tasting)

I am going to add some more bucket brewing stuff over this summer now it is warm enough to brew again. It seems odd but you can turn out some good brews with a plastic bucket but the biggest trick is sterilise sterilise sterilise everything you use.

Ingredients

  • 40 – 50 elderflower heads picked either early in the morning or at dusk (morning is best)
  • 2 kg of white sugar
  • ½ kg of brown sugar (optional)
  • 8 table spoons of white wine vinegar
  • Equivalent of 8 – 10 lemons juiced and then juice and lemon thrown in
  • Yeast if it does not start to bubble after 2 or so days (I use ale or champagne yeast)
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