Make Elderflower Champagne – Taste of Spring – Elderflower Fizz

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A question posted on Jamie Oliver’s Forum asked what is your favourite picnic item? Shortly after I’d suggested the good ol’ pasty another member listed elderflower cordial, recounting memories of Eastern European summers awash with homemade elderflower beverages. There followed various links to pages that gave the recipe and details how to make various elderflower drinks. This immediately reminded me of the fun I’ve had over the years making elderflower champagne and I offered to write up my method of brewing this sparkling summer delight sometimes called elderflower fizz.

Making elderflower champagne is easy:-

  • Go pick half a dozen full elderflower heads ideally on a sunny day when they are most fragrant.
  • Half fill a clean bucket with 2 gallons of cold water (thats 10 Litres for my Euro chums)
  • dissolve 2lbs (1kg) of white sugar into the water
  • shake any debris and insects clear from the elderflower heads and immerse in the water
  • Cut two lemons in half squeeze juice into water and throw in the squeezed halfs
  • add a splosh (4 tablespoons) of white wine vinegar
  • stir gently and cover with a clean tea towel
  • leave for 24 hours stirring occasionally

After 24 hours, sterilise plastic carbonated drinks bottles – 10 x 1 litre lemonade/pop bottles are ideal – and strain jugfuls of the liquor through a sieve or muslin cloth into the bottles and screw the plastic tops on firmly.

Leave for a week and the naturally occurring yeast on the elderflower heads begins to ferment with the sugar creating a very weak alcohol content but lots of carbon dioxide.

elderflower champagne
Image – judyofthewoods http://www.flickr.com/photos/68888883@N00/3647949351/

Lots of CO2 = Big Elderflower Fizz

NB I emphasise using plastic screw top bottles as personal experience and folk lore have taught me that homemade elderflower champagne causes

  1. Pick elderflower heads in full bloom

    corks just pop out and the contents just overflows to leave a sticky mess,

  2. glass bottles to actually explode embedding shards of glass into the surrounding surfaces and the contents to cover everything in a sticky mess
  3. a combination of both of the above makes for a nerve wracking experience whenever in the space the elderflower champagne is being stored and inevitably ends up in a sticky mess

If you use plastic bottles you will at least notice the stretching and rounding if the pressure becomes too great and can release the gas (or drink it).

One clever storage idea was to use a duvet to cover the bottles to absorb the impact and mop up any unwanted sticky mess

If stored in a cool place and the bottles remain in tact, elderflower champagne can be kept for over a year – until the flowers begin to appear again for the next batch.

Make your own drinks

After making a successful batch of elderflower champagne perhaps you’ll want to try your hand at making elderflower wine and other interseting drinks – find recipes and method to “brew” lots of home made drinks in these books that explain:

Enjoy!

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Comments
1.
On May 21st, 2008 at 10:17 pm, Magz said:
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I can remember my Mum taking me and my friends out to a local field to pick elder berries so that they could be turned into wine. I never did taste the end result but I’m rather curious. Anyway, we don’t have any wine making equipment any more.

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On June 3rd, 2008 at 10:27 am, Mark said:
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Use plastic fizzy drinks bottles … That’s a great tip.
Thanks

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On June 6th, 2008 at 2:27 am, Andrew said:
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Hi, I found your blog via Google while searching for ELDER FLOWERS and your post regarding Elderflower Champagne – A Taste of Spring – Elderflower Fizz – The Pasty Muncher looks very interesting for me.

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On June 7th, 2008 at 3:09 pm, jeannie said:
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My grandma used to make elderflower champagne and she always put slices of bread into the liquid too. Don’t know why. I always thought it was to give it extra fizz with the yeast in the bread?

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On June 8th, 2008 at 4:41 pm, Chris said:
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I remember my parents making this when I was about four or five. For years after this, in to my adult life the smell of elderflower would transport me back to that time ans all the associated memories. Im 40 this year and last year, my parents made some for the first time since I was a child. we drank it together with my own daughter. Sadly my mother died last October, but we finished the last of the champagne a few weeks back. My Dad and my 6 yr old daughter made some last week together and we just finished making some more. This drink is wonderful and will always remind me of my mum and my childhood. I hope my daughter will always remember it as well.

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On June 13th, 2008 at 10:26 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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Great to see all these thumbs up – this year as well as Elderflower Champagne the Muncher household is trying a batch of elderflower cordial.

PS – My Homebrew Guru, Richard of Cheers Winemaking and Brewing Sutton hinted that elderflower champers was a perfect mixer with Gin….Cheers!

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On June 14th, 2008 at 4:16 pm, Sandy said:
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My daughter made some Champagne and we all got ready for the tasting session. I removed the cork with a loud bang and the contents shot straight up to the ceiling. About an egg cup full remained which tasted delicious.
I’m rolling my sleeves and trousers up ready to have a go!

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On June 18th, 2008 at 11:25 am, Mark said:
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I made some elderflower champagne at the weekend, after a day or so you could see the bubbles in the bottle but now i cannot see any bubbles.

Will it still be fizzy??

I have also got some which I haven’t bottled yet because I ran out of bottles, is it okay to bottle it three or four days after??

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On June 18th, 2008 at 5:19 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Mark said:

I made some elderflower champagne at the weekend….

it should become fizzy in the bottle – beware see comment number 7 from Sandy

As for the four day old stuff…your half way to wine with that although the dreaded vinegar fly might have got their already.

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On June 19th, 2008 at 12:42 pm, Neil said:
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Hi, I live in London and am keen on making some Elderflower Champagne.

I went over to my local park today and collected quite a few flower heads.

I have read on other websites that you shouldn’t pick flowers from the roadside as they will be polluted, but everywhere in London is by a road side!!!

Does anyone know if I could rinse them and still use them? Or if they would be ok to use anyway?

Thanks for your help,
Neil

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On June 19th, 2008 at 4:01 pm, Gemma said:
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OOOhhhh so excited i have an elderberry tree in the garden…now just need pop bottles…. ;-)

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On June 20th, 2008 at 9:30 am, Pat said:
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Just made my second batch of “champagne” easy and fun to do. Tried the first batch made last week already really rather good chilled and chaep to make
.

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On June 20th, 2008 at 9:43 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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Neil – with regard using flower heads from the roadside – I think its best to avoid those that get the full brunt of exhaust fumes. We can all enjoy the fresh air away from the city but I’d imagine a park will do nicely – its not as though you’re going to munch the elderflowers.

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On June 20th, 2008 at 12:31 pm, Mark said:
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In response to PastyMunchers reply (post 9);

Do you think I should stop shaking the bottle to see if I can see bubbles then!!???

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15.
On June 20th, 2008 at 3:11 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Mark – yes or you might end up in a sticky mess

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16.
On June 20th, 2008 at 6:50 pm, Linda said:
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I made a sort of sweet elderflower vinegar (no bubbles) when trying to make a cordial (just layering flowers with sugar, then covering with water, leaving overnight). Maybe I didn’t use enough sugar, but after pouring off the liquid and storing it in the fridge for a few weeks, I tasted it. It’s delicious; I just don’t know what to call it. Certainly not champagne.

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17.
On June 20th, 2008 at 8:48 pm, Dave said:
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I’ve just made a batch of elder flower champers from a recipe in ‘ A greener life’
I used unrefined sugar as was recommended in recipe. It was light brown….what sort of outcome can I expect??

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18.
On June 21st, 2008 at 10:58 pm, Martin said:
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In River Cottage when Hugh made the champagne he used glass bottles with a ceramic stopper (like the original Grolsch bottles) are these safer to use are where do i buy them??

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19.
On June 23rd, 2008 at 7:29 pm, Lee said:
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Help!

My elderflower has been in its container for 2 days and nothing seems to have happened i.e. no ferment. Its just been outside my back door with a lid on, what have i done wrong, when watching Hugh FW fermenting started after 2 days.

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On June 23rd, 2008 at 10:10 pm, margaret said:
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just made some elderflower champagne didnt realize i would have to bottle it after 24 hours i dont have any pop bottles could i use a demi john?.

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On June 25th, 2008 at 11:49 am, Lee B said:
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I have just made 10 litres of the stuff and from my experience it took 4 days of brewing in the plastic tub before it started to ferment and produce the bubbles. Also putting in the airing cupboard seemed to help the process.

Rather than buy expensive bottles from Lakeland I managed to get Grolsh bottles with Stoppers from Asda for less than £2 and got to drink the beer.

Where is best to store the stuff now I have bottled up?

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On June 26th, 2008 at 10:43 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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17. Dave -Unrefined Sugar – should be fine

18. Martin – Never trust a TV personality – he was making an alcoholic version which is less volatile – the fermenting is done in an open bucket for several days so the bottled drink just ferments a little more until alcohol co2 levels stop it (he hopes) I’d STILL encourage using plastic bottles

19. Lee – see 18

20. Margaret – a demi john isn’t designed to take pressure so either the cork would pop out or you would have a very dangerous “wine bomb”

21. Lee B – Cheers!

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On June 26th, 2008 at 4:39 pm, Robert c said:
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Recommend storing in a garage or such as a shed can become too warm… Boom!! Still water bottles from Asda etc can be bought for 18p each and the neighbours will think you’re Uber posh watering the plants with bottled water. I’m onto my second batch….mixed with gin it’s superb!!!

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On June 26th, 2008 at 4:56 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Robert C – with these three top tips you’re really spoiling us.

Respect!

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25.
On June 27th, 2008 at 12:53 pm, Steve Johnson said:
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Hi, I too watched Hugh make this and am giving it a go. Would it matter if I used Red Wine Vinegar? What’s the difference.

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26.
On June 27th, 2008 at 2:43 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Steve – My guess is that your elderflower champagne will have a delicate hint of blush to it – which could work very well.
I don’t doubt the elderflower champagne will still taste fantastic if you use red wine vinegar.

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27.
On June 28th, 2008 at 1:58 am, Martin said:
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I’ve followed Hughes recipe so my version will be alcoholic so hopefully less volatile like you suggested – will use pop bottles as u suggested tho.

Thing is 3 days in nothing happening Hugh says to chuck in a pinch of yeast, which I now have – thing is all I had was traditional dried yeast (used to make bread tho not for breadmakers) – this version just pure yeast i think as it shows no ingredients.
Will this b ok? or should i have used a difference yeast?

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28.
On June 29th, 2008 at 5:20 pm, Steve said:
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OK, so it’s been in the bucket for 4 days now, still no fermentation… but I am getting spots of fur (obviously mould) beginning to appear on top of the liquid! Any hints? The liquid tastes nice though ;o)

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29.
On June 30th, 2008 at 12:03 pm, Stacey said:
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I first made elderflower champagne some years ago and it was great, BUT after a break of some years, I have tried again and for the last three years it just refuses to ferment and comes out of the bottle much as it went in – quite tasty but definitely not fizzy, some bottles have a hint of sparkle but no risk of exploding bottles in my house!! Any ideas as to what I’m doing wrong? The bottles have definitely got a good seal, and I’ve opened bottles and regular intervals from about 2 weeks to over a year after bottling.
It’s very frustrating!

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30.
On June 30th, 2008 at 11:45 pm, adam said:
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I do hope the basic theory works , Ive got 30 litres in a sterile dustbinn in my shed. No sign of fermentation yet but apparently the yeast doubles every day so it should not be long, been 2 days so far.How can you tell if working though?

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31.
On July 1st, 2008 at 8:09 pm, jason said:
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hello. I’ve got mine in bottles, so far so good, but cloudy (or murky) should it be. Its a bit cloudy and yellow now, will that clear up?

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32.
On July 4th, 2008 at 11:41 pm, Robert C said:
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In answer to some, the tiny sachets of yeast used for bread making (only one) will work great. Just mix with a tiny bit of warm water first and mix in well, get your hands in there!! This will work even if added a couple or four days into brewing the elderflower champagne in the bucket and if there is a little mould. The plastic 2 litre water bottles are superb and really only need released slightly after a few days. If you like a sweeter drink then obviously increase your sugar by half again. Happy consumption!!

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On July 4th, 2008 at 11:43 pm, Robert C said:
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Jason,The drink will stay cloudy like a lemonade of that name perfectly good to go!

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34.
On July 6th, 2008 at 5:59 pm, Bob P said:
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I followed the Hugh F W receipe and it stared fermenting, but as I got round to bottling it, I racked it off in to a demijohn and it looked quite flat. So I added a small amount of yeast and now its fermenting again. What should I do ? Not sure that was a good idea in retrospect OR if I should bottle it right now ! ?

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On July 6th, 2008 at 6:19 pm, Heather B said:
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have made my first batch of elderflower champagne following the river cottage recipe, have used several different types of bottles to bottle up including plastic pop bottles, grolsch bottles and screw top wine bottles i found it necessary to release the pressure every few days and have found the end product to be a bit sweet especially in the plastic bottles have subsequently made 2 more batches with a lower sugar content – will this work and is the fact that I am releasing the gas every now and then spoiling the end product

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36.
On July 7th, 2008 at 5:47 pm, Bob P said:
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10

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37.
On July 7th, 2008 at 6:48 pm, Jamie Clayton said:
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Made loads of Elder Champagne for the first time two weeks ago – tried to buy fancy champagne corks and wire cages, but no luck. Had fun designing posh bottle labels complete with photo of the garden though- but not my neighbour’s where I did help myself to a few more flowers. Hugh did say collect a mix of flowers didn’t he? Hope it’s alcoholic…

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On July 7th, 2008 at 8:49 pm, Shirley Bascombe said:
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Brilliant info. Was searching for spring top bottles on the net for home made elderflower champagne as featured in River Cottage Spring. Have made this myself using screw top bottles in the past but thought would try different bottles. Thanks for the article – have saved myself money and the risk of exploding bottles!

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On July 10th, 2008 at 12:08 am, Adrian said:
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Try using sound champagne bottles. Use proper wired down corks. Make your own labels. Monitor progress using a Stopper type beer bottle or a wine bottle with a partially inserted flanged corked which will ‘blow’ when champs is ready ready.Wear ear defenders, a yellow hard hat and protective glasses.Take care.

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On July 11th, 2008 at 12:48 pm, CCC said:
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I wish I’d seen this info a week ago! I have now had two bottles expolde, the latest being last night at 3.15am!! So this morning before work my partner spent an hour cleaning up, then releasing the the pressure from the remaining swing top bottles and having an elderflower champagne shower in the process!! This is the first time we’ve made it so weren’t expecting such an expolsive time!! Can’t wait to drink it though – cheers!

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On July 13th, 2008 at 5:36 pm, Sue said:
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Help please. We have made the elderflower champagne, everything went well. Strained it into water bottles, which keep going really hard so have let a bit of gas out. Started to drink a bottle after 2 weeks and first glass was really nice and refreshing, second glass was slimy on the top like slug slime so not very pleasant. Does it need straining again and re- bottling? Any other suggestions please. Thanks, Sue

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On July 13th, 2008 at 6:55 pm, Sue said:
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Hi, after making my elderflower champagne and straining into plastic bottles, we have opened the first bottle and the frist glass was delicious, but when we topped it up, there was slime floating on the top, like slug slime, and not too nice! Any ideas – do we need to re-strain and bottle again? the bottles keep getting very tight and hard and we have released some gas from each. Hope someone can help. Thanks, Sue

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On July 14th, 2008 at 7:21 pm, clare said:
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I have 10 litres of elderflower champagne nicely fermenting, made one month ago. I used old cola bottles and none have exploded so far. I can see some bubbles but there is also a very small amount of visible mould on the top of the the liquid in a few bottles. Will this still be drinkable without causing stomach upsets or worse?

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On July 16th, 2008 at 12:05 pm, Penny Chapman said:
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Great to see that so many people out there are getting into the joys of elderflower champagne! I’ve been making it for a few years now (well before Hugh made it fashionable), and there’s one tip I’m always careful to follow: you should collect the flowers on a sunny day, preferably in the afternoon. Supposedly, this means a higher yeast content and hence no problems with the fermentation.

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On July 23rd, 2008 at 9:02 am, Julie said:
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I too have elderflower champagne fermenting in garage and have noticed slime/mould on top can it still be drunk

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46.
On August 13th, 2008 at 2:40 pm, Ewan said:
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Hi,

I made Elderflower Champagne according to River Cottage Bloke’s Recipe only I added a few handfulls of wild rose petals as well.

I only left it to ferment in a bucket for 2 days and there was only a little foam when I bottled it a month ago. Now its all cloudy and full of pale yellow gunk sitting at the bottom and floating around in clumps and tiny cob-web strands.

I opened a bottle and it was really fizzy.
I sniffed it and it smelled wonderful.
I dipped my finger into it and it seamed OK.
I took a sip and it tastes great.

The yellow stuff could be yeast, is it safe to drink?

thanks.

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47.
On August 13th, 2008 at 5:21 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Ewan – I can only assume you were of sound mind and health when you left the above comment in which you enquire as to the safety of your elderflower champagne – try chiilling it which will stabilised the yeasty sediment and decant into a glass of jug in one go to limit the disturbance of the yellow gunk.

Finally if the colour only is off putting use those picnic coloured plastic tumblers.

Did the rose petals add any discernable flavour?

Drink on!

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48.
On August 14th, 2008 at 11:49 am, Ewan said:
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Thank you Pasty Muncher.

I did as you suggested and all the murkyness and foost set into a mass at the bottom. I then poured it into another bottle and I’m drinking it now.

It is fantastic and I can definitely smell/taste the wild roses, especially when I breathe out, my whole head fills with the aroma. I put in a fair amount of petals.

I shall return to the same clump of roses shortly as I notice that the hips are now approaching ripeness (early?). When they are ready I will have a bash at rose hip cordial. If you can put me on to a recipe I’ll let you know how it goes.

One last thing, How much alcohol do you think is in the champagne I made, % wise?

I almost never drink and after a large tumbler I’m beginning to feel a little woozy.

Cheers.

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On August 14th, 2008 at 11:59 am, Ewan said:
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Just thought I should mention, for all the lumps and whispy bits have sunk to the bottom and are now thrown down the sink, the champagne is still far from clear. Its still sort of pale yellow and murkey, though you can just aboyt see through a glass of it. I guess that the rose petals will have affected the colour a bit…

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On October 28th, 2008 at 10:50 pm, merlin said:
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I first tasted this way back in the early seventies when my grandfather made it for me. Since then on good summers it’s been made by my mam and now me.
Everyone who has tasted it have fallen in love with it.

have a go and enjoy

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On November 12th, 2008 at 9:50 am, DIY Blog said:
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elderflower champagne eh? Sounds very interesting. I love making drinks for myself at home – I’ve had a lot of experience in making home made beer but this is certainly new to me. Think I may have to give it a try though.

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On January 9th, 2009 at 4:15 am, dino delellis said:
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Wow , that’s so cool , I never knew you can make champagne that way.

The problem is I don’t thinks elderflowers grow in this part of the world, bummer

Dino Delellis

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On January 9th, 2009 at 2:38 pm, Dave Draper said:
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My two cents’ worth….
Shred/shake/snip the petals from the stems of your elderflowers.
For one gallon (five litres), half a pint of flowers, two pounds of gran. sugar, boiled up in three or four pints of water & poured over the flowers. Make up to a little less than a gallon with boiled water. When cool, add juice of two lemons & your champagne yeast (or at least a wine yeast), & a little yeast nutrient. Stir two or three times a day until fizzing. Strain into a clean demijohn, fit airlock & be patient!
When it starts to clear (around 3-4 weeks) but is still a little cloudy, siphon off the yeast, & add an ounce or two of sugar. (It’s good to test if it is dry first, using a ‘clinitest’ kit, so’s you don’t add too much sugar & have exploding bottles!). Bottle in clean champagne bottles, stopper with plastic champagne ‘corks’ & wire them down. Should be ready to drink in a month or so, & will be fantastic!
Very important to sterilise all equipment (but rinse out any sterilising solution with boiled water) – otherwise slimy mould deposits or elderflower vinegar may result. Add a litre of grape juice per gallon (allow for this at the bucket stage, add at the demijohn stage) for more body if you like.
Just hope there’s a home-brew shop near you all (rare things these days) else it’s an on-line order.
I’ve never bought a demijohn or a champagne bottle in thirty-odd years of winemaking, – (skips and wine bars provide plenty of empties), though demijohns are probably getting harder to find. Check out charity shops, car boots & jumble sales.
For more recipes check out http://www.geocities.com/lumeisenman/
Roll on April……
Dave

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On January 26th, 2009 at 12:24 am, paul said:
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can’t wait to see some elderflowers bring on the champers

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On April 10th, 2009 at 5:45 pm, Den said:
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For true elderflower champers don’t add yeast. It should ferment using the natural yeasts in the flowers. This is a delicate yeast and will only give you 3 or 4 % alcohol. To give the yeast a better chance don’t use boiling water on the flower heads and allow your bulk water to stand for a few hours or better still days to allow the chlorine to evaporate off. If after a few days there is still no obvious fermentation going on add a further flower head.

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On April 22nd, 2009 at 1:45 pm, micmacmoc said:
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use only cane sugar, best use unrefined, it gives a better taste

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On April 25th, 2009 at 11:32 pm, Helen Pike said:
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I made this a few years ago; it’s a lovely drink and goes very well with gin! I didn’t realise there was any alcohol created. I agree that glass bottles and plastic stoppers don’t work – mine kept popping too. The only advantage with glass is that you can sterilise them in a dishwasher so the champagne doesn’t get mouldy. The elderflower cordial was too sweet; I wasn’t too keen on it as a drink, but nice over ice-cream.
I’m from the Belvoir Vale where elderflower cordial is made as a business – check out their cordial, it’s delicious and English Elderflower Presse, too.

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On April 29th, 2009 at 1:24 pm, tom said:
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So much great advice here. I’ve made my own cordial quite a few times with great results – and no concerns over explosions, fermenting, use of goggles and hard hats. If making the champagne variety is too much work for anyone, make the cordial! It’s concentrated, and when mixed with sparkling water is heaven in a glass! Although the cordial isn’t alcoholic, as Hugh F-W says, the champagne is never particularly strong anyway.

My two top tips:

>Never add hot water to grated zest like I once did (results in a marmalade taste)

>Use elderflower champagne/fizzy cordial with Pimms. It’s THE ultimate summer drink.

Can’t wait to give elderflower champagne a go this summer, time to go out and buy recommended hard hat, goggles and a high-vis jacket.

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On May 22nd, 2009 at 5:46 am, Roger Coasby said:
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A variation that I tried a few times was to combine elderflower blossom with gooseberries, fermented on a mixture of honey and sugar. I truly delicious summer wine, but do not use too much elderflower or it wll overpower the wine.

I called it Gooseberry Melomel as it is loosely based on an old Elizabethan recipe

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On May 25th, 2009 at 7:22 pm, Denise, irish.trouble said:
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Having read all of the comments, and seen the Hugh guy on river cottage, The greatest difficulty I foresee with regard to elderflower champagne is …..getting the other half off of the sofa! I bet he won’t mind drinking it tho!

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On June 1st, 2009 at 10:51 am, mike melia said:
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When you add your sugar to any home brew it is important not to add all the sugar at once. Start the brew off with a small amount of sugar and after a while test for sweetness by tasting. If the brew is sweet there is still sugar left so dont add any more. If the brew is dry then the yeast has “eaten ” all the sugar and its time to add some more. Towards the end add the sugar in tiny ammounts to see if the yeast will still take more – if it will it starts working again when you add a little sugar – if the yeast has taken all the sugar it can nothing happens when you add more sugar. By controlling the sugar like this you can control the sweetness or dryness of your finished brew. Cheers!

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On June 3rd, 2009 at 4:31 am, sam banbury said:
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there is so much info on this site, its fantastic, going to give it a good bash this year, can anyone tell me,…is it better to use no stalks at all?, and all the Quantities are a bit random would it be better to weigh the flowers? , is the half a pint recomendation half a pint loose or compressed?, or is it all trial and error?, very good info though, sorry if i sound a tad aynul (editor edit) happy fermenting!!

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On June 3rd, 2009 at 10:48 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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Hi Sam thanks for the comments.

Re Elderflower – yes loose quantities are the ticket – elderflowers imaprt a strong flavour so only half a doxen or so are needed.

For the champagne trim off the big thicker stalk bits but dont waste ages on this.

I cant see the half a pint reference you ask about?

I was interested to see you say on another post about looking after flowers that you are in the flower industy and take on board your tip – I’ll slip that in the main body somewhere.

Would you like to write a guest article about flowers? – Anything you like!

please let me know and good luck with the champers – use PLASTIC bottles

Cheers
PM

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On June 5th, 2009 at 9:18 am, Rose said:
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Hi,
Can I just check that its definitely COLD water that you add the sugar to? I can’t see how sugar will disolve into cold water? other recipies I’ve seen you add the sugar to hot water then top up with cold water.
I’m no expert at all on this, and really want to use your recipe as I like the simplicity of it compared to others (sugar quantities/glass bottles/number of days fermenting etc etc) but i’m left slightly confused after looking at so many different methods!
If you could clarify, I can then crack on with making it this weekend. Thanks in advance.

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On June 6th, 2009 at 12:01 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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Yes cold water – dont scald the flowers! – the sugar will disolve during the process – just follow the instructions and have faith – you’ll make a great elderflower champagne – NB USE PLASTIC BOTTLES

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On June 6th, 2009 at 3:48 pm, sharon said:
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I’ve made elderflower champagne for several years, and I am baffled by recipes that say you can or should let the champagne age for 2 months to a year before drinking.

My experience is that elderflower champagne begins to taste like finger-nail polish remover after one month–and should therefore be drunk within two to four weeks after bottling.

I understand that what’s going on is the alcohol and vinegar are reacting to form ethyl acetate. I understand this can be stopped/prevented by adding Campden–though, obviously, not at bottling time, since Campden would prevent fermentation.

So this year I’m going to add Campden about three weeks after bottling–just at the point where the drink is fizzy and tasty, and hasn’t started rolling downhill.

Any thoughts on this idea?

Am I having problems because summers are a bit hot here in the US?

Why is no one else having the ethyl acetate problem?

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On June 6th, 2009 at 6:48 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Sharon

Wouldn’t adding campden mean opening the bottles – letting all the fizz out and exposing the elderflower champagne to airbourn nasties that will spoil the drink? First rule of brewing – once bottled only open to quaff.

In my experience (and as I say in my method) its ready to drink after a week or so and because its so wonderful it is unlikey there’s any left two months down the line.

Why not try this elderflower cordial recipe. This makes a concentrated elderflower cordial that stores well – you can freeze it – and mixes with fizzy water to make a very simialr drink to elderflower champagne. Cheers!

Hope it all works out.

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On June 7th, 2009 at 5:47 pm, Gill Clements said:
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So many helpful comments about Elderflower Chapagne! I am about to make this year’s batch (as soon as the sun comes out). Last year I added yeast and spent hours clearing up broken glass from 9 exploding glass bottles (also one had one very scared cat) – so no yeast this year. I’ll be using plastic bottles and adding a another flower if it doesn’t ferment.

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On June 10th, 2009 at 1:19 pm, Passion said:
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this is my first year of making champagne and i have no idea what is going to happen. I have been asked to make it for a friends wedding mid August, if I do it in the next week or 2 will it be ok at that point? Shall I keep it chilled?
Also bottles I have bought a load from ikea which have the stopper tops. for £1.99 each
http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/50108908

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On June 10th, 2009 at 5:21 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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@Passion – Comment 69!

Crikey £1.99 for an empty bottle!
I suppose should they survive they will add a nice touch to the occassion. I just fear they too risk exploding. Please reconsider – get a refund and use plastic bottles.

Elderflower champagne is best drunk fairly quickly after making it – it might be ok for August – store in the coolest place you can and have a contingency plan. Test a bottle a couple of days before the wedding to make sure it’s palatable.

You could make a batch of elderflower cordial and add this to normal champagne or fizzy wine – hmm might try this tonight actually.

I hope all goes well. Send in photos of the happy couple and their elderflower champagne toast.

cheers!

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On June 11th, 2009 at 6:48 pm, Andrew said:
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Hi – i made a high alcohol content elderflower champagne (12%) by making wine first then adding sugar and yeast when racking into champagne bottles (i used plastic corks and wire cages). the result was very good, a dry wine with a balanced nose. only problem was when opening the first bottle (outside!) the cork flew out with such velocity that it went right over the house!…and covered me head to toe in fizzing wine.

got another batch on the go at the moment, been picking flowers today. making 12 bottles of the wine described above plus 5 litres of cordial.

goodluck to everyone – it’s a grand drink on a summer’s day!

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On June 11th, 2009 at 9:56 pm, paul said:
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We got married 16 may and used a traditional french sparkling white and added elderflower cordial (like a kiaroyale?) we made the eldercordial last year and froze it for this year. worked really well. Ive just bottled 10 lts of elderchamps, when in France I got 20 flip top glass traditional french lemonade bottles, the glass looks really thick but reading this I think I will still cover them in an old duvet…..

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On June 13th, 2009 at 7:53 am, sharon said:
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Pastymuncher–I have found that elderflower champagne will keep if refrigerated. I guess I could make room in the fridge for a few bottles….

The thing that baffles me is, so many recipes say NOT to drink it for two months.

I will be trying the rose petals in my next batch–and I also want to try Roger Coasby’s gooseberry melomel, and Dave Draper’s version of elderflower champagne.

The elderflowers are just beginning to bloom here.

I made elderflower cordial last year. A wonderful summer beverage!

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On June 17th, 2009 at 10:13 am, Dave said:
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Hi, firstly thanks for posting the recipe!

I got it brewing on Friday last week, but after advice from an uncle left it to ferment in a fermentation tub. By Sunday there was no sign of fermentation so I popped to my local brew shop, explained what I was doing and he advised me to use a sachet of champagne yeast. Having done a little research now i’m wondering if I maybe should have gone for a lower strength yeast as I understand the champers is going to give a higher alcohol content, oh well!

Also, i’m wondering if its possible to use coffee filter paper to strain the brew when I bottle it? Does anyone know if this will be detrimental at all?

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On June 18th, 2009 at 5:27 pm, Caro said:
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I made a batch last year, first attempt and it turned out really well – very tasty and quite alcoholic! I had added a pinch of bread yeast after a few days as nothing much was happening.
This year, not so good. Attempted a double batch and it went mouldy. Made a second batch, last chance as the elderflowers were nearly gone. This time I only left it a couple of days before bottling and I don’t think there is enough ‘fizz’. Do you think I could mix a pinch of yeast in water and add a drop to the bottles? They are out in the shed for safety!
PS I found glass bottles with metal lids (a green bottle cordial) work well as the lids don’t seal too tightly and release the gas a little.

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On June 19th, 2009 at 4:30 pm, Jen said:
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Hi, I made a large batch of champers using your recipe 5 days ago. I left it for 24 hrs as you advise then decanted into plastic bottles. There doesn’t seem to be anything happening except growing some mould. Is there any hope for it or should I start again?

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On June 19th, 2009 at 5:38 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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@ Jen 76 –
Hi – its probably not mould – just natural ‘scum’ leave for another week or so the bottles will become turgid which means the fizz has begun.

But why not make another batch or try making the cordial – see links above – in the meantime?

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On June 19th, 2009 at 9:01 pm, Jen said:
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Thanks pasty muncher, will make another batch. Have made some elderflower cordial which is gorgeous, difinately be making that again. Cheers

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On June 19th, 2009 at 9:52 pm, Ask A Docker said:
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Maybe you elderflower drinkers should sup up – cheers!

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On June 21st, 2009 at 12:00 pm, Jen said:
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wow I have fizz I’m so chuffed, tasted it and am really pleased. Just need the sun to shine next sunday for a family bbq then I’ll crack it open for all to enjoy. Thanks pasty muncher x

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On June 21st, 2009 at 3:09 pm, rog said:
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made elderflower champagne last saturday & no fermenting happened so added yeast, bubbled a bit & started looking a bit mouldy on top so strained it & bottled it on friday, was quite thick when we bottled it & now looks a bit yucky on top & cloudy, smells lovely still but also not very fizzy. Should we throw it away ?? Would like to try again but dont know where we went wrong, any help would be good as we have not made it before.

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On June 21st, 2009 at 9:50 pm, diane said:
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great site :)
I made champagne 2 weeks ago and in dread of bottles bursting only filled 4/5ths full and have released gas build up once or twice. My batch seems to have thunder flies in it which have now sunk to bottom of bottles. I have tasted the clearest looking and it certainly tastes lush, however when pouring it is not like water but is a like watery mucous – is this how it should be? Is there any risk of legionella?

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On June 23rd, 2009 at 3:18 pm, sewstermum said:
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I’m very confused as to whether to bottle and drink, sooner or later. All the web recipes have differing advice on timing, and almost all conflict with the advice given in wine making books.
I have steeped the flowers for a week and racked off into a demijohn with cotton wool in the top for two days now. It is very yellow and cloudy and fizzy. The web recipes say bottle and drink, in which case I would be drinking a still fermenting brew. Wouldn’t that give you a tummyache? BUT the wine books say ferment till it has finished bubbling, then rack off twice leaving three weeks between, in order to clear the brew, then they say bottle it with a measured sugar amount to let it ferment again in the bottle but preventing burst bottles because it is a measured dose.
Which is right? I’ve never done it before.

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On June 27th, 2009 at 10:12 pm, TomHomebrewer said:
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How should the mixture look after a few days?

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On June 28th, 2009 at 9:41 am, bobby said:
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I made it last year – here are my top tips

– pick elderflowers on a sunny day in the morning when they are most fragrant
– use organic vinegar if possible as others contain perservatives that may inhibit fermentation, i found some cider vinegar in morrisons that i use.
– use boiling water to disolve the suger but then let the mixture cool before adding the elderflowers as you don’t want to kill the wild yeast in the flowers.
– steep for 24 hours then bottle
– use 2ltr or 1ltr plastic bottles that previously contained fizzy drinks – these can withstand a lot of pressure and you can tell by looking at them if they are at risk of blowing up. None of mine did and I didn’t release the pressure at all.
– it’s best to leave for 4-6 weeks after bottling before drinking
– don’t worry about strange floating sediment in the bottles, you are brewing with a wild yeast so this is to be expected, you can strain this out when pouring using a tea strainer
– I left a bottle for about 10 months and it was fine in fact tasted a bit drier and less sweet.

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On June 29th, 2009 at 8:29 pm, Vixx said:
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Quite a few people have mentioned mould on the top when fermenting in the bucket. Is it ok to drink or do I have to throw it away and start again?

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On June 30th, 2009 at 11:53 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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Vixx – it is unlikely to be mould in the bad sense – just a residue from the natural fermentation process – pour carefully and skim off and I’m sure the champers will be tip top

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On June 30th, 2009 at 4:27 pm, Liz said:
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How do I know it has fermented properly?? Is it supposed to be fizzy when you bottle it up?!

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On June 30th, 2009 at 10:14 pm, Ollie said:
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Re: number of heads used, you say 6 for 10 litres, HFW says 15 for 6 litres. This is a big difference and personally I would be tempted to put even more in than HFW recommends. Has anyone tried both and say how the two compared?

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On July 1st, 2009 at 7:47 pm, rog said:
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Have just bottled my second attemp at the elderflower. sampled a bit of it & tastes vinegary….will that go after has been bottled or was my white wine vinegar a bit off?????
thanks for help

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On July 25th, 2009 at 11:16 am, Struan said:
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Just got home from hols to check on my first batch of elderflower champagne only to find the remains of an exploded plastic tango bottle in the garage . I am so glad that I moved it out of the kitchen – utter carnage! Found this site while trying to find some bottles online that would be up to the challenge!

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2654/3753977261_7d1716c976_b_d.jpg

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On August 9th, 2009 at 2:53 pm, Pauline said:
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Tuesday of this week removed bottle full of Elderflower champagne from my kitchen cupboard . Attempted to let some of the gas escape ….bottle exploded in my hand causing great pain extensive cuts to my hand and arm possible broken finger days on still cant use it
I for one will not be making any more Elderflower champagne

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On May 6th, 2010 at 11:26 am, Sarah PJ White said:
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I absolutely love Elderflower Cordial and always find a long line of family and friends who are waiting to pinch a bottle or two – as soon as I’ve made a batch!

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On May 31st, 2010 at 4:24 pm, Andy said:
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I have always used the old glass beer bottles with the internal screw threads – they seem to take the pressure. Most of mine came from hedgerows / old sheds etc where they have been left by farm workers in days gone by! The worst thing is getting the soil from ants nests out of them!

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On June 2nd, 2010 at 2:00 pm, annieab said:
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we have been trying to make some elderflower wine. we started a couple of days ago on the first bit (before we add the yeast) and it has turned black like tea. is this normal? if not what went wrong?

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On June 3rd, 2010 at 11:56 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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Sorry Annie – Wine isn’t my tipple however it sounds dubious – you could try calling an old chum of mine – Richard at Cheers – he is very knowledgeable and a thoroughly good chap

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On June 8th, 2010 at 2:31 pm, Rebecca said:
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can you tell me how to sterilise plastic bottles? I take it that you can’t boil them, do you have to do it with sterilising tablets? I’ve only done glass bottles for jam and bung them in the oven.

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On June 8th, 2010 at 2:36 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Hi Rebecca

If you want to be super safe buy sterilising solution (in powder form) from places that sell home brewing beer and wine kits.

You only need a wee bit so its not too expensive – just a bit of a chore rindsing them out thoroughly.

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On June 9th, 2010 at 9:07 pm, jill said:
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Hi, after watching a program a few weeks ago called, The edible garden, featuring a recepie for Elderberry champers, I have decided to give it a go!

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On June 9th, 2010 at 9:13 pm, jill said:
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But after reading everybodies comments on this subject just hope it works. It seem’s a bit of a gamble. I have put all components into my plastic bucket approx 20lts and I used cider vinager as I had no white wine vinager. It smell really lovely a bit like lychees, I really hope it works. Plastic bottles at the ready!!!

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On June 10th, 2010 at 4:52 pm, Marian said:
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Hi i made elderflower champagne according to the recipe in the book – A Greener Life. But i didn’t get any fermentation and lots of mould so trying this recipe now! But just have a query does move flower heads mean more yeast so therefore a higher alcohol content! Cheers!

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On June 11th, 2010 at 12:05 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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I think that as long as the heads are in full bloom they have enough natural yeast for the recipe to work with the suggested number. NB you must not pour boiling water on the heads as this would kill the yeast.

Try again and very best of luck!

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On June 14th, 2010 at 9:39 am, Nicola said:
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Hi all – thanks so much for tips and (painful!) experiences. I’m really excited about making elderflower champagne for the first time, dreaming already of giving up the day job and going into business… HOWEVER, I have a couple of questions. I live in a flat, and so don’t have a garage/shed/outdoors/other place where exploding bubbly isn’t going to ruin my life. But I really want to put the champagne in glass bottles (with screw top lids) to give as gifts. What do you recommend? I guess I can’t ferment it in plastic and then decant? I also don’t have any spare duvets… help please!

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On June 14th, 2010 at 3:28 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Unless you know how to use champagne style bottles with appropriate corks and metal twists DONT USE GLASS BOTTLES FOR ELDERFLOWER CHAMPAGNE.

Sure a plastic bottle doesn’t look the part for a gift but it is the thought (and taste) that counts

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On June 14th, 2010 at 8:37 pm, Erine said:
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Hi – thanks great site and brilliant tips. I am about to attempt my own batches of elderflower cordial and champange as an adult. I helped out making batches as a child and to reiterate what another person said – it really does evoke wonderful summer memories as a child from the elderflowers heady aromas.
A tip about picking the the flower heads tho’ – discard any which smell faintly of cats wee wee which they tend to do as they start to get old and go over. Only go for the ones with the beautiful aroma. Sniff and go and make champers!!!

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On June 14th, 2010 at 11:50 pm, David Winkley said:
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Hi All,
Lots of replies before mine and I have not seen the blog before but am a seasoned home brewer so just a few comments.
Glass bottles are good to about 50 psi but plastic (mineral water type) bottles are OK to 100 psi so will withstand more pressure.
The gas produced is a reaction from the sugar content so adding yeast only speeds up the reaction, just as putting in a warm place would do. The ideal temperature for firmentation of this kind is about 25c.
The longer you leave before bottling the less likely the bottles are to explode as the first gas is expelled.
Once the bottles are sealed they will go off if opened as the reation becomes anaerobic at bottling and the oxygen is consumed by the yeast. The introduction of air and oxygen will cause the mould and cause the wine (which is what has been produced) to go off.
The alcohol content is a direct result of the sugar added. Can’t remember the formulae but if I can find it I wil post it for info.
I have never made elderflower champagne before and have just started 15 gallons so will let you know how I get on. I intend to bottle after a few days when the bulk of the firmenatation has completed and am using beer buckets as the lids offer a better seal than the cloth approach. It may be the cloth lid which is causing so many problems with the mould growing and failed firmentation.
Will also be trying a small batch using Turbo Yeast which allows you to make 25% alcohol. Have tried this sucessfully with beer and red current champagne. I also only fill the plastic bottles about 80% so the gas has somewhere to compress.
Happy brewing one and all.

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On June 15th, 2010 at 8:10 pm, jill said:
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Hi Nicola, answer to your question, I am currently fermenting in a big plastic fermenting bucket purchased from wilkinsons (young brewing equipment). It seems to be going great, the recipie I am following from the BBC Edible garden fermented in plastic then decanted after to weeks. Mine will be ready next week. I plan to decant in swing top glass bottles to give as gifts, and for my own use I will be decanting into kilner top jars and putting in the fridge. As an experiment I decanted a kilner jar 90% full at the begining of fermentation, it is very fizzy looks great tastes beautiful and not a threat of any exploding jar fingers crossed. If you don’t have a spare duvet, pop to a charity shop or use a spare bath towel.
cheers jill

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On June 15th, 2010 at 8:13 pm, jill said:
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P.S Also made some cordial, it is lovely well worth a go

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On June 16th, 2010 at 11:07 am, carol said:
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I put all ingredients together on Sunday (today is Weds) No sign of fermentation so far. I added a pinch of dry yeast yesterday as suggested in recipe still nothing. Have I failed ????

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On June 17th, 2010 at 10:56 pm, carol said:
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All is well we have fermentation!!! Now to strain and bottle following all the tips .

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On June 21st, 2010 at 11:02 pm, lolo said:
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I made elderflower champagne last year. i tried old screw top wine bottles and beer bottle with the clasp. the wine bottles exploded, so i realised that i should release the pressure every week. no more explosions! so if you use screw top wine bottles or the bottles with the clasp at least you can put your hand over the lid and carefully release the pressure every now and then. going to make this years batch this week. got the perfect bottles from ikea. they are 1 litre, thick glass bottles with the metal clasp. cost acouple of quid each. should do the trick and i have them for years now.

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On June 23rd, 2010 at 12:16 pm, Mandy said:
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I have read all 111 comments and as far as I can see only one person mentions the flowerheads smelling of cat pee! I had to pick ours in the evening as my daughter wanted to help me and it was the only time she was around. Within 5 minutes they stank of cat pee. I had checked other sites and they said that whether they smell like bananas or cat pee, you will end up with the same result. Can anyone confirm this please? I’ve just added some yeast to mine (now on 3rd day in the bucket) because there was no action. Think I might bottle it up tomorrow or Friday and see what happens after that….but have to say, at the moment I would not fancy drinking the stuff at all. I’m not sure it even smells OK! From what everyone else seems to be saying, it should turn out OK in the end! Fingers crossed :-)

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On June 23rd, 2010 at 9:06 pm, cress said:
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About to go collect flower heads on the ‘lotty after an hours research. Its been a hot day so..

Tomorrow will buy Wilko buckets and sterilising solution and scope the market for lemons. Have plastic bottles and might attempt a couple of Grolsche swing tops and an Ikea jobby too.

First attempt, quite nervous! Wish me luck!

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On June 24th, 2010 at 9:24 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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Hey – I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised – neigh delighted – all the very best!

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On June 25th, 2010 at 12:17 am, Sue Chapman said:
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Re Mould. We always seem to get mould at the top of the bottles of our Elderflower Cordial when they’ve been stored for a while. We just strain it through a tea strainer and drink it! We’re still here and haven’t suffered any stomach upsets.

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On June 25th, 2010 at 9:02 am, Portia said:
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Hi there

My friend and I had a wonderful day picking the floweres and making the champers, with our kids dipping in and out of the paddling pool and the sun shining.

But having read all the comments on your site (which I discovered after I’d bottled our champers into screw top glass bottles!) I’m now worried we’ve done everything wrong.

Firstly, the glass/plastic bottles issue is a worry. Secondly, although the water wasn’t boiling when we put in the flowers, it was at least hand hot. (It seemed to be taking forever to cool and we were so impatient!!) Would this have killed the yeast off? If so is there anything I can do to salvage the batch now it’s bottled?

We also used cider vinegar and not white wine vinegar. Is that a problem?

I left it about 48 hrs (no sign of any bubbling in the bucket at this stage) before bottling into bottles that I had sterilised, first in the dishwasher, and then by filling with boiling water. I’ve left about a 2″ gap at the top of each bottle to allow for co2, but if we killed off all the yeast to begin with, it doesn’t sound as if this will now be a problem,sadly.

I strained the mixture twice through a muslin type fabric, squeezing as I went to get as much flavour out as poss.

The bottles are all together in a plastic tub in my summer house, but this can get quite warm on hot days; is this a bad place to leave it? I do have 2 plastic bottles of mixture that I have 3/4 filled,but only after I’d run out of gllass ones. I just assumed glass was what you were supposed to use.

It’ll be so disappointing if it doesn’t work after we had such a lovely time making it! As a plus the mixture is a lovely pale nectar colour and really tasty, just don’t know if we’ll get the fizz. What do you reckon?

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On June 25th, 2010 at 10:33 am, Kay said:
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Have made my first batch and bottled it Thursday after 4 days in the bucket. I am new to brewing so followed instructions to the letter putting it in a cool place. Due to it not fermenting after the expected two I went to the brewing shop,(was not sure if you could use bread yeast) and the very helpfull lady said pop it in the sun. Once warmed up started working without need for yeast addition. It is bubbling in the bottles, I don’t want it to go flat if I keep letting air out so when do I stop realesing the air? Off to get some more to have another go just in case.

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On June 25th, 2010 at 10:37 am, Kay said:
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Just read 109 , try putting it in the sun to let it warm up. (See 115).

Oh and thanks for tips on the glass bottles to everyone, I am using plastic and can see when they are bulging.

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On June 27th, 2010 at 8:40 am, G said:
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Hi – my nana always loved telling me about her home brew exploits and getting aunt ada sloshed on a weeknight….she used to love eldferflower champagne and I have been meaning to do some for many years.

For the last couple of years I have missed the flowers so made great use of the berries later in the year to make some luscious elderberry vino.

I had a couple of scary moments with my homebrew exploding – I had taken advice previously and filled lots of tiny glass wine bottles, and many 2 litre plastic screw tops…..

….not long after bottling – fermentation must have started again….the 2litre plastic bottles felt like rocks – I held it in the fermentation bucket in case it exploded – BOOM! in a milisecond my hands were empty – the bucket was no where to be seen, my friend was stood on one leg with one eye closed dripping all down one side with sticky purple – I looked down at myself – i was covered from head to foot in purple and stood in a lake of it – we were both frozen to the spot with our mouths hanging open in absolute disbelief of what we were seeing – i looked around the previously cream kitchen…..purple was dripping off the ceiling, off the cupboards, downs the walls, looked like a massacre!

After stripping off where I stood and leaving my friend to start mopping up the insane mess using all of my best bath towels – I took the other bottles outside into the yard at arms length like unexploded bombs….took a towel and opened them all under the towel back into the bucket….half exploded in my hands again, covering me top to toe in streaks of blood coloured elderberry wine..the doorbell went, aargh! and the poor gas man nearly fell over where he stood – he took one look at me, went white as a sheet ‘holy moses are you alright pet?’ thinking I had suffered some terrible injury with elderberries dripping down my face/arms/legs.

Once the colour had returned to his face he recounted tales of his own homebrew exploding under the stairs.

anyway – it took a week to clean the kitchen – i then had to re-paint it, and we were still finding purple oozing out from skirting boards and light fittings in the kitchen for two years afterwards.

(the rebottled result of this debaucle is lush though!)

So – I am about to embark on elderflower champagne. I bought those ikea bottles someone earlier was talking about thinking, well – glass screw tops didnt work, plastic bottles nearly blinded my friend, maybe those glass swing tops might work.

Now I am seriously worried! I would rather have a VERY VERY slightly sparkling (rather than fizzy) champagne than have any more dramatic explosions.

So – can I ask you lovely people if you think that:

1 – I leave it to ferment in the bucket for a week or so, will it be less fizzy?

2 – If I put it in these glass swing tops and store them in the cellar (cool and dark) will it be less fizzy when I come to open them?

3 – If I open them when the bottles are really cold will that help prevent the bottle exploding in my hands!?? I am assuming that gases expand with heat, so if I keep them chilled the gases should be smaller by volume?

4 – I will make sure the bottles are all covered in something so if they do explode they wont be flying through the floor of my living room!

5 – OR – is there something else I can make out of this bucket of elderflowers/sugar/water/lemons…..(smells really nice!)

I am an absolute chicken.

6 – what if, after having bottled the volatile liquid into the swing tops – if I left the swing tops off and put a balloon over the necks of them? I have heard people do this with demi johns if they dont have an air lock – maybe with a pin hole in it (but then the gas would escape wouldnt it?)

hmm, i am worried about my 20 litres currently steeping in my (recently painted) kitchen!

By the way – the berries this year will be made into marmalade. I am not brewing anything with a colour ever again.

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On June 27th, 2010 at 12:02 pm, GG said:
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I too have the Ikea glass bottles and they have so far stood up to the pressure fine – they do have a slightly concave bottom which probably helps. I do keep them in a cool shed though so if we do have any problems they wont do too much damage! This year I have used a mixture of Black elder from the flower bed (sambucus nigra) and hedgerow elder and so far we have a lovely pink tinge to the brewing champagne. Have also made cordial and this looks lovely topped up with sparkly water – if a little girly! Any tips for getting the champagne clear or without the sludge in the bottom? I have always just strained it as I pour!

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On June 27th, 2010 at 12:39 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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To avoid the sludge – put the upright bottles in fridge and allow to stand and chill for a day. Caefully open the top bottle at a slight angle and pour very slowley – ideally decant the whold bottle into a cold jug – thereby avoiding backslosh.

The sediment is harmeless in small quantities suspended in the champers.

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On June 27th, 2010 at 12:41 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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sambucus nigra – Black Elder – for tinted drinks – that sounds wonderful

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On June 27th, 2010 at 12:42 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Make another batch while the flowers are still in full bloom

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On June 27th, 2010 at 2:13 pm, G said:
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GG – how long do you let your flowers steep/ferment for before bottling them??

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On June 27th, 2010 at 2:16 pm, nova cura said:
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I have followed this recipe and just tasted the results – they are great. I used a mix of plastic screw top bottles and glass and no explosions. It was not fermenting after 24 hours before I bottled but started to ferment once bottled with no extra yeast, and this has worked out very well after about two weeks in the bottles. Yum!
I am making more now!

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On June 30th, 2010 at 12:51 am, Celine said:
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I’m using 1/2 filled 5 litre expandable water carriers from the pound shop. They have an inbuilt tap.

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On June 30th, 2010 at 11:24 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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That sounds like an accident waiting to happen – nothing against the Pound Shop mind but the vessels really need to be designed to withstand pressure.

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On July 1st, 2010 at 1:03 am, Celine said:
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The expandable water carriers expand as the gas is produced. They’re designed to carry 2 litres of water. Excess gas can be released by opening the tap.

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On July 1st, 2010 at 1:52 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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And if you forget to open the tap…..?

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On July 5th, 2010 at 1:32 pm, Nicky said:
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I followed a recipe for elderflower champagne using citric acid last week. I bottled it 36 hours after making it and five of the six glass bottles have mould growing on the top – with lots of bubbles floating up too. I made it last year and it was great – with no mould. I used more or less the same recipe this year and washed the bottles in the dishwasher and left them to dry.
Do you think it Is safe to drink if you remove the mould from the top or should I start again, and sterilise with a chemical cleaner??

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On July 5th, 2010 at 2:06 pm, Sharpey said:
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Well, I’m a returning ‘hedgerow liquor maker’……..and although I did not see the HFW programme (which many refer to) I did catch the ‘Edible Garden’ program with Alys Fowley which Jill referred to. (I’d like your recipe please Jill…..I didn’t buy the book to the series). However, I did trawl Google to fine The Pasty Muncher recipe and on Saturday I began my first ever batch of the stuff – using 40 pints of water and the Wilko’s fermenting bins which Jill mentioned. No bubbles as yet…..but I’m the consmate optimist, so here’s hoping. I will, however, be storing my brew in the lean-to in order to avoid the perils of the explosions I keep reading about; I’d also not like to deafen my dog and car in the middle of the night if the bottles went boom! Will let you know how it all turns out. :)

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On July 5th, 2010 at 2:07 pm, Dug said:
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I only managed elderflower cordial this year, but it is heavenly in a Gin & Tonic.
.-= Dug´s last blog ..Special offer on gin- =-.

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On July 21st, 2010 at 10:52 pm, Rob said:
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I’ll tell yoo what, that sounds very refreshing. I don’t think I have ever tried an elderflower drink before.

As soon as you mentioned alcohol I thought “that’s me” lol
.-= Rob´s last blog ..Strange Nature – 3 Animals that Eat Themselves =-.

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On July 26th, 2010 at 4:34 pm, G said:
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Hi – thought I would leave a follow up on how the elderflower pop turned out….

I had been dubious about lovely smelling liquid in my fermentation bucket, would it go mouldy? go off? EVER start to ferment? and if it did start to ferment – would it explode??

I scooped out the flowery heads with a slotted spoon, sieved out the bits, bobs and copious bugs with some net curtain and bottled it.

12 Ikea swing top bottles sat on my kitchen bench with multi coloured balloons over their necks for a good week. A 5 gallon demi john sat beside them (I couldnt afford any more swing tops….I think I was over zealous with the amount of water).

Shortly after a week, my balloons were stood upright and the bubbles were coursing through the liquid! Amazing, and rather hypnotic. After another few days worth of pondering, I closed one of the lids as a tester. Realist that I am I fully expected it to explode inside my fridge, so I managed to stuff the bottle into a thick oven glove and stood it in the fridge door, warning my other half not to open the door too violently.

After a few more days and some strange looks from guests seeking milk for their cuppas….I popped the lid, it didnt explode so I felt quite reassured.

I put the lids down on the rest of the bottles – fit 4 in the fridge (without oven glove hats on) put the rest into my fermenting bucket, covered it with a towel and stuck it in the cellar with the lid on.

I opened one of my refridgerated bottles the other night to give it a go – held it in a thick towel whilst I popped the lid – massive pop, but no explosion, and not even an overspill. RESULT! and it tastes divine if I do say so myself. The amount of fizz in it is spectacular. Credit due to the initial recipe rather than my technique I believe.

Drank most of it, thought I would leave the inch that was left on the bench rather than clog up the fridge. BIG mistake. warm kitchen + space for gas to build up + time = problem.

When I went to open this bottle the lid shot off so violently I nearly lost grip (I am now pretty worried about what is in the cellar – has it been cold enough? have those strange noises really been the pipes or were they exploding bottles? – I am yet to find out).

So – the pop tastes lush, but it is still quite volatile. I thought I would donate a bottle to a neighbour who likes interesting things. It took me a full 8 and a half minutes to explain how to treat it….keep refrigerated, cover with towel, do NOT leave outside the fridge, do NOT shake it up, keep upright at all times, hold away from face etc etc etc.

She walked off down the street holding the parcelled up bottle at arms length with her face turned away as though carrying a bomb about to go off.

When I have enough courage I will dare to go into the cellar and check on the rest.

(I wouldnt recommend using it as an interesting addtion to home made strawberry jam though – the amount of fizz in it is so great that it managed to double the volume of my jammy liquid and nearly flooded my cooker).

What do I do with my 5 gallons that is bubbling away quite nicely in my demi john? It definitely tastes more alcholic than my elderflower fizz.

Has anyone made elderflower wine? I could bottle it once it has stopped fermenting?

Or should I just get a long straw and start drinking?

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On August 2nd, 2010 at 11:49 am, raquel said:
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Hi there I tried using lorina flip top lemonade bottles they sell in waitrose only £1.49 and you get to drink the contents first. I have had one exploding bottle in the middle of the night, elderflower drippin off the ceiling, walls, quite scary moving the other ones outside but also very funny. We just got them cold and drunk the lot in one go!!!The amount of pressure building inside is imense. I def think plastic ones and every week let a bit of air out. If your wanting the nice glass ones just decant on the day you want to drink it.(if you do it the night before it goes a bit flat) The stress of will they wont they explode is not worth it! Will def make again free booze is a reall winner!!!!

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On September 18th, 2010 at 6:46 pm, Joanna said:
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A neighbour has made Elderflower Champagne earlier this year and blagged empty actual champagne bottles from a hotel that does lots of weddings, and bought plastic screw top stoppers to fit. No explosions but he did say he used far too much champagne yeast in the first batch with the resulting egg-cup full of liquid left when opened.

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On May 12th, 2011 at 1:03 pm, Linda Hull said:
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Great tips – feeling rather wary but i am going to risk it!

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On May 17th, 2011 at 4:35 pm, Paolo said:
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I just wanted to comment to a lot of readers who want to use grolsh style bottles for their elderflower champagne. We used bigger ones (1 liter in size) however found that they did not work very well. What was happening was the pressure inside got so high trying to push the “cork” our that it distorted the metal holding the lid resulting in random squirts of champagne across our kitchen to relieve the pressure. (The cats were not amused when they got a squirt). Over time the amount of liquid in the bottles gradually decreased and the amount of sticky mess on the floor (and cats) increased.

Its also harder to open a grolsh style bottle full of fizzy champagne without losing a lot, with a screw-top plastic lemonade bottle you have better control

cheers Paolo

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On May 21st, 2011 at 8:39 pm, colin said:
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i got grolch topper type bottles and plaggy corks and wire cages for old fizzy wine bottles i saved on line all together from home brew on line in york.hope this helps

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On May 24th, 2011 at 12:28 am, Margaret said:
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Well this has certainly made interesting reading. I have laughed so much at some of the stories but think it may be nervous laughter as I have two buckets of the stuff sitting in my garage! I have never attempted to make my own wine, beer or indeed anything like this before so don’t quite know what to expect. I will be bottling it tomorrow into plastic screw top bottles which previously had fizzy water in them, compliments of Tesco. I am wondering what to expect from the bottles having read some of the hilarious comments on here. Should I prepare for the worst? dress in combat gear, goggles, hard hat and wear asbestos gloves? Perhaps I could hire a suit of armour from somewhere, better to be safe than sorry! I will keep it in the garage I think, safely covered in a duvet and a tarpaulin. Only hope I like the stuff after all of this!
Do the plastic bottles need to be sterilised and if so what do you recommend?

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141.
On May 31st, 2011 at 11:20 pm, Isabel said:
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Well, so far so good… i am onto my 2nd batch for this year. But PLEASE somebody tell me.. is this right… i have used plastic bottles and they are sitting in my garage, the ‘champagne’ was the colour of a well hydrated person’s pee ( sorry!) but has turned cloudy after 2 weeks. I tasted it tonight, and it has a lovely pleasing taste and a little fizz but what worries me is that it has a viscosity.. slightly syrupy. It does not taste too sweet, I was wondering if I had made a cordial by mistake! Whats happening? It this going to change in the next few weeks? Is this thick liquid safe? Its seems strange…..
I used 10 litres of water,
1 kg sugar,
skin and juice of 2 lemons,
4 tbsp of white wine vinegar,
at least 10 flower heads, picked on a sunny midday.
I kept it for 24 hours in a lidded bucket and stirred it every 8 hours ( about) then strained and bottled.

Thank you to all who can help.

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142.
On June 8th, 2011 at 10:01 am, Grazing Kate said:
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Just linked to your recipe on our SW food page on Facebook – feel free to come and visit and join the discussion!
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_151672788219720&ap=1
Grazing Kate´s last [type] ..Bagel and Beans – Great Budget Food in Central Amsterdam

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143.
On June 8th, 2011 at 3:52 pm, Lionel said:
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We have just made a 4 litre version which is in a 10 litre plastic camping water bottle with tap closed. We were hoping for a stronger version of the champagne but unsure what will happen – it is currently sitting in front of the the fireplace in my living room – wish me luck!

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On June 10th, 2011 at 6:55 pm, Heather said:
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I am about to make my very first batch of elderflower champagne and as I have some black elder in my garden, wonder if this can be used too? It might make a nice pink champagne???

happy bottling one and all…

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On June 10th, 2011 at 11:23 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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@Heather – woo – do let us know how it turns out. I’ve been eyeing up the sambucus negro and wondering the same.

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On June 10th, 2011 at 11:24 pm, Pasty Muncher said:
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Fingers crossed Lionel

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147.
On June 18th, 2011 at 9:59 pm, carol said:
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I Have made 19lts of Elderflower champers……only when I tried it, it has gone ‘gloopy’ kind of a slimey texture…It has been fermentng for 14days…plenty of fizz…. it tasted ok, but any ideas of where I have gone wrong… or how to remedy it?? I thought possibly emptying half the bottle and addnd extra water??

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On June 21st, 2011 at 1:34 pm, Alex said:
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I’m making my first batch of Ederflower champagne ever at the moment. I used about 30 heads of elderflower and 3 large lemons in about 27 litres of water, but I only added 1.8kg of sugar. It gives a reading of approx 5.5-6% abv on my hydrometer and is bubbling away as we speak after 16 hours. Not got any foam yet but it smells great! I’m wondering if I used enough sugar though, should 1.8kg be enough for 27 litres or should I add a bit more? I’ll be letting it ferment for 6 days then bottling with a teaspoon of sugar in each champagne bottle, so hopefully that’ll avoid breakages! Any tips would be welcome!

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On June 21st, 2011 at 4:49 pm, Jane said:
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Have been persuaded to re-try the champagne after years of only making the cordial , because of said explosions. Had not heard in the old days(15 yrs ago) that plastic bottles were the best, and have just this afternoon bottled it into glass. Should I re-bottle? Also my recipe didn’t say I had to wait until it was fermenting in the ucket, so had bottled it according to time recipe only, ie 3 days. So what should I do?

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On July 5th, 2011 at 2:03 am, Swan Creator said:
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This receipe should be fairly safe – only had one glass bottle explode yet out of 60!!
10L water
1.7 Kg Sugar
12 flowerheads
2 lemons (sliced, but not juiced – just add as slices)
2 Tbsp vinegar (cider or white wine)

Mix sugar into the cold water (this will only take 1-2 minutes vigurous stirring) – then add the flower heads, vingar and lemon slices. This is best done in a sterilised plastic bucket – sterilise with boiling water and allow to cool.

Cover loosely (tea towel, etc) and leave stand for 1 week, stirring twice daily. Do not add extra yeast, and bottle whether show signs of fizzing or not. You can leave for up to 10 days before bottling, but you must stir twice daily. Bottles must be sterilised.

Elderfolwer champagne will naturally have a cloudy appearance, and there will be some sediment – it’s a natural drink, not ‘cleaned’ by chemicals or preseratives.

As the elderflower is now nearly finished blossoming, the same receipe applies for Meadowsweet – though I’m not sure what it’s tast will be like – just did my first brew tonight!!

This receipe tasted best when I drank it after 10 months, but was good from day 1!

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On June 15th, 2012 at 6:46 pm, Maureen said:
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I made this last year everyone said how lovely it was someone else I work with made some. Different receipe and everyone said that the one I made using your receipe was far superior I am now making it again I’ve had people asking me to make them some I’ve just given them your receipe it’s great!!!

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On June 18th, 2012 at 9:57 am, Pasty Muncher said:
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Cheers – Finally the weather has improved so hopefully we can all still pick some perfect blossoms

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On June 27th, 2012 at 11:32 am, Emily said:
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I have made my first ever batch of elderflower champagne having been a avid elderflower cordial maker for years. It was all looking lovely bubbling away in grandma’s mixing bowl covered with a cloth. I have just decanted it in to plastic bottles and decided to have a little sip. It starts of with that lovely floral taste but after that it is bitter as a witches ***. Is there anything I can do to help get rid of this other than throw it away and try again?

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On July 1st, 2012 at 6:45 pm, Joanna said:
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!!! My elderflower keeps going mouldy a few days after I’ve bottled it. Can anyone help sort this problem.
Also I use glass bottles with screw lids, plastic ones always explode.

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