I missed out on making this delicious fizz last year. Gutted? Just a bit! Seriously peops. If you haven’t tried this before then you’re missing out! This is the most delicious summer tipple you will have ever tasted. Scouts honour.
The flowers of the Elder tree can go from being white and creamy (ie perfect for making champagne) to brown within a few days. Last year it happened so early (due to a heatwave in April) and quickly, that it caught me on the hop and I totally missed my chance. So I was determined not to miss out again this year. The recent weather had nearly scuppered my chances again. The elderflower blooms in my neck of the woods are on the turn already and the persistent strong winds have blown alot of the delicate flowers from the trees already. So there were slim pickings today but I managed to get enough (I think) to make a good size batch of the stuff this afternoon.
So, if you live in an area where these blooms are still plentiful on the trees (depending on how far North you live in the UK you could still have some well into July but you may need to be quick if you’re down south), then here’s what you need (these quantities can obviously be downscaled or upscaled according to the amount you wish to make)…
- 8 Large Elderflower heads (freshly picked, preferably on a sunny morning when they are at their most fragrant)
- 4 Lemons (unwaxed is better)
- 1.5 kg White Granulated Sugar
- 4 tbsp White Wine or Cider Vinegar
- 5 litres of Boiling Water
The method couldn’t be much more straight forward…
- Put the sugar and boiling water in a sterilised plastic bucket (I use Milton or homebrew sterilising powder to sterilise). Stir to dissolve the sugar and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, shake the flower heads to dislodge any bugs. Remove flowers from the main stalk. (Doesn’t matter about the tiniest parts of stalk that the flowers are actually attached to. Just remove as much as poss)
- Slice the lemons (I grated some of the rind and squeezed some of the juice for good measure too)
- Once your sugar solution has cooled to hand hot, add the flowers, lemons and cider vinegar.
- Stir and cover with a clean tea towel then leave for a few days, stirring once a day.
- After a few days, strain the mixture through a sterile cloth (muslin is good), pour into sterile bottles (see below) and seal. Leave in a cool, dry place for at least a fortnight before drinking. The longer the better. We had a bottle a full 18 months later and it was even more beautiful for the wait.