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”!
- 8 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. This recipe also works for meadowsweet, japanese rose, honeysuckle, mugwort, sweet cicely and any other aromatic blossom and/or leaf you care to try. For subtler tasting plants, just scale up the quantity of plant material.
- 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.