Elderflower champagne recipe
* 4 litres hot water
* cold water to top up
* 700g sugar
* Juice and zest of four lemons
* 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* About 15 elderflower heads, in full bloom (if possible picked on a sunny day)
1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.
2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, it should be going a little bit foamy as it starts to ferment from the natural yeasts found in the flowers. If it isn't you may need to add a pinch of yeast.
4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential)
5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place.
Enjoy! - With thanks to our "Guest Chef" Catherine Mason our Community Conservation Officer at Lorton Meadows.
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