Elderflower Champagne Recipe

Elderflower champagne

This recipe is adapted from Roger Phillips’ excellent book, “Wild Food”. If there is a tastier, more refreshing, easier to make summer drink than this, please let me know! All my guided walks kick off with a glass of this “efferv-essence of summer”!

Linked articles: Elderflowers, Recipes.

Ingredients

4 Elderflower heads in full bloom – if you can pick them on a sunny morning, so much the better. Shake them free of insects or other bits but don’t wash them.

  • 4.5 litres (1 gallon) cold water
  • 1 Lemon – it’s juice plus it’s skin quartered. A really nice variation is to add 5 tablespoons of sea buckthorn juice instead. It gives a slightly tropical tang to the whole affair.
  • 650g (1.5lb) white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Dissolve the sugar in a little of the water – it will help if you warm it then allow it to cool. Then simply mix it with all the other ingredients in a large jug or basin. Leave covered for 4 days (preferably somewhere cool or you run the risk of the lemon going mouldy). Strain and pour into clean screw-top bottles – plastic fizzy drink bottles are ideal. Leave at an ambient temperature for 4-10 days, testing after 6 to make sure it doesn’t get too fizzy. Its quite important to check the bottles regularly as they will explode if you you forget about them. Gently unscrew the lid every few days to decompress. In cooler places it may need another week or so to get going, so be patient – the natural yeast in the flowers is doing the work and can take a wee while to get going. he longer you leave it fermenting, the stronger it will be in alcohol. Once you are happy with it, keep it in the fridge to slow down fermentation.

Drink with ice and lemon on a sunny day with sunny friends.

Browse more wild food and drink recipes…

40 Comments

  • Looks yummy, does it get naturally alcoholic? Must buy some jars, looks a little like moonshine in them jars! This has caught my attention, must make some!

  • celia burney says:

    I originally made this from F.Marian McNeill’s Recipes from Scotland but lost the recipe when my son appropriated the book when he left home.
    after trawling through loads of footery over-complicated recipes on the net I finally found yours…exactly as my original recipe.

    Thank you so much.

  • Laura says:

    I so can’t wait to try this! I’m just waiting in the blooms to appear!

  • Jo Baybut (William's mum!) says:

    That’s my 1st ever batch if elderflower champagne on the go, now to make some cordial too! Hope to see you when you are next up in this neck of the woods!

    • mark says:

      Excellent! I’m sure it will be delicious. Still looking at summer dates for Aberdeenshire, but definitely coming up for fungi forays in the autumn (see events calendar if you haven’t already booked!) Cheers, Mark

  • Mr Fitz says:

    Do you really only need four heads? Does more increase the flavour? Thanks!

    • mark says:

      Hi, Yes, these proportions work. You can add more, but you’ll have to keep a close eye out for exploding bottles when the ferments starts to happen. Mark

  • Mr Fitz says:

    ok cool! so no glass bottles then!

  • Christine says:

    Hi Mark, I made some about 3 weeks ago, for the first time. Had a taste this week and unfortunately had to throw the whole lot out as it had a really strong vinegar flavour. Recipe same as above, only difference was I used 2 tablespoons of white wine viegar, it was really fizzy so don’t doubt that it fermented and smelt good. Any ideas on why it tasted so nasty? Cheers, Christine

    • mark says:

      Hi Christine, This can happen. Sometimes its to do with the time of picking, sometimes the individual plant (some have “odd” character – it is the witches tree remember!). Most often, its because its been left too long at warmer temperatures while fermenting. Sometimes the lemon can go off too when the weather is warm. Citric acid (from any homebrew suppliers) instead of lemon can help with this issue. Generally, when the weather is warm, I try to drink mine asap after it gets fizzy – or put in the fridge to slow fermentation.

    • Nick Barber says:

      Christine…I had this problem once…the only time a whole batch (rather than the odd bottle) weren’t top-notch in about ten years of making.
      It came down to he fact that I didn’t take enough care sterilising the (glass) bottles I was using.
      I use VWP now,but if you don’t like chemicals,a thorough wash then heating in an oven hen leaving to slowly cool will do the trick.

  • Joe says:

    Hi this recipe sound great. How do you stop it from getting too fizzy? Once it is fizzy enough do you drink it or treat it somehow?
    Thanks
    Joe

  • Mary O'Callaghan says:

    How should this be stored once its fermented? Have made some, not tasted it yet, only on day 3!

  • Rita Williams says:

    Could you stand the jugs or bowls for the 4 days in cold water and keep adding ice? I am going to have a go at making this, first time ever making home brew.

    • mark says:

      Hi Rita,
      No need – keep it simple. Warm (ambient) temperature helps the infusion/fermentation. If the flowers/lemon start to go mouldy, just skim them off asap, strain through a fine mesh and bottle. Still tastes/keeps fine. Alcohol production inhibits bacteria.
      Cheers
      Mark

  • Linda says:

    Hi,

    It says test after 6 days once it’s been bottled to make sure it doesn’t get too fizzy. What if it is too fizzy – do you put it in the fridge to stop it fermenting?

    • mark says:

      Hi Linda,

      Its never “too fizzy” for drinking, its just the danger of the bottles exploding. Once the plastic bottles feel really taut (usually after about 1 week ambient in bottles), I unscrew to let the fizz off, tighten up again, and store in the fridge. Not only does this slow fermentation, it means you’ll see them every time you open the fridge and be reminded to check the pressure and let some off if necessary. Also, should one happen to “blow”, at least it is contained in your fridge!
      Mark.

  • Mary Ellen says:

    I was looking for information on the health properties of the elderflower and I found your website. …and since my family loves to make home-brews we’ll definitely be making an attempt at this elderflower champagne! Looks easy enough, which is partially what makes it so appealing. Also, if you say it’s the best summer drink, I’ll take your word for it.

    (By the way, I love all the different words and ways of speech you folks use over there in Scotland!)

    Mary, from Wisconsin

    • mark says:

      Thanks Mary, hope you enjoy it. I’m not aware of many health benefits of elderflowers, but the berries are full of vit C and antioxidants I believe. The foliage and twigs of elder are toxic, so nothing will be very good for you if you don’t remove a good proportion of them – though i’m not super-fastidious and have come to no harm!

  • Jodie says:

    Great recipe!! I substituted for cherry blossoms! And it worked a treat!! Thanks for the recipe mark and the amazing foraging trip in roseland!
    Jodie

  • Vanese Gordon says:

    Have just strained and bottled my first batch. Taste is magnificent already! Can’t wait for unveiling in a few days once fizz has happened. I’m a bit of an anti-plastics person, so have opted for used screw top carbonated water and wine bottles. I’ll let you know how that works out.
    I’d like to try other flowers as well. Any suggestions? Do all flowers naturally contain yeasts? Where can I read up yeast content in flowers? Thanking you in advance.

    • mark says:

      Most flowers will work, but with different results according to when and where you pick them. Sweet cicely makes a nice anise-based fizz.

      • Vanese Gordon says:

        Thank you very much for getting back to me. I will look for it as I’m not sure it grows where I live.

  • Vanese Gordon says:

    And, just in case it isn’t obvious — I’m brimming over with gratitude.
    Thank you so much for the wonderful site full of inspiration!
    Cheers.

  • Sarah Howells says:

    Hi there, fab recipe! How long can you keep this? Would it keep for several months? Thank you, Sarah

  • Linda says:

    Have made a batch about a week ago but not there’s little white cloudy clumps in the bottles. There’s still no fizz in the drinks. Is this batch ok?

    Thanks
    Linda

  • Alex Hall says:

    Hi Mark,

    Do you need to sterilise the plastic bottles?
    If so,how do you go about doing this?

    Thanks,Alex

  • Lynne Reynolds says:

    Hello there
    Can you tell me, how long this keeps for. Thank you

  • Steve says:

    Hi,
    When first bottling if i use plastic bottles can i later put into propper Champagne bottles? or should I go with the Champagne bottles from the start.

    • mark says:

      You can go with champagne bottles, but be very aware of the ongoing fermentation. The plastic bottles can be “burped”, but champagne bottles not so easily – and if they explode consequences can be serious!

  • Des says:

    Hello, Can you dry the elderflowers by just hanging them, to use later? Thanks Des

    • mark says:

      Hi Des, Yes – in a warm, airy place. I’d recommend doing it in paper bags, or over a container in order to catch the pollen.

  • Linda Jones says:

    Just bottled my very first batch using the pink Elderflower… I just upped the number of heads and used 6 instead of 4.. (The pink flowering type seems to be less dense than the white, so I thought I should add a couple more…) So far – so good!! Even at this early stage it tastes gorgeous…

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