Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Brewing My Own: Elderflower Cordial....and Elderflower Champagne

There are probably only a couple of days left of elderflower picking.  Certainly here in South Devon, the creamy-white blooms are starting to fade and turn brown and a little musty smelling - upcountry folks might have better luck.


 My basket of blooms - far more than was needed:


I decided to make a batch of cordial, which really is one of the simplest recipes in the world.  I used the River Cottage Preserves cookbook recipe (a similar recipe has been reproduced here on Nipitinthebud's great blog) which just involves lots of sugar, lemon juice and elderflowers.  Leave the cordial to infuse overnight and the next day it was ready to strain and use.  


It’s a joy to drink this with sparkling water and plenty of ice on a summer’s afternoon, and even more fun spiked with vodka, a sprig of mint and a handful of raspberries during the evening.  The cordial was a doddle and here it is - four bottles for immediate drinking and a further one litre in the freezer.


 I’m a little more concerned about the Champagne....I’ve toyed with Pastymuncher’s ideas but decided to use Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe for this and there are MANY MANY worrying comments about Champagne explosions, glass being embedded in bookcases and C02 eruptions that have hit the ceiling.  Grazing Kate has been 'very brave' and made six litres of the stuff...Mix it all together, leave for about four days until it starts to ferment (very exciting – that happened today) - those white bloom areas that look like reflections are the signs either that it's working or that it's mouldy and it's all gone horribly wrong (I'm an optimist and bottled the stuff!):


 and then strain it into PLASTIC bottles.  Granted, the lovely swing top Grolsch style bottles look far more attractive than this (hmm, nice presentation in the Asda bottle)


But shards of exploded glass embedded in my furniture and skin? – Er, no way!  I’ve done a bit of research and plan to ‘burp’ the bottles every couple of days for a week or so (by gently loosening the screw cap and relieving the pressure) and then it should be ready to drink after a mere seven days.  Homemade brew – feels just a little bit naughty, but damn clever if it works.

10 comments:

nic@nipitinthebud said...

your a braver girl than me Kate tackling champagne (I didn't much fancy the idea of exploding bottles and traumatised cats!). I was hoping to pick some elderflower on Sunday but it just rained, rained, rained. Maybe this weekend ...

Christine said...

Is it alcoholic Kate?

Grazing Kate said...

Hi nic, thanks for visiting and letting me link to your recipe! Just a few days left to pick those blooms, someone reassured me that the brownish ones are still fine to use - give them a sniff to check.

Christine - the cordial is a soft drink, but the champagne will contain alcohol - of unknown potency - will be fun to see.

Pippa Jay said...

Thanks for the info, I've always wanted to make elderflower cordial - we have a tree at the bottom of the garden - but I never seem to get around to looking up a recipe before the flowers finish!

Grazing Kate said...

Get picking, Pippa Jay - you're lucky to have one so close at hand. It's great to feel like you're getting some food / drink virtually for free and using a seasonal flower too. Apparently you should leave some blooms on the tree so that some berries can form later in the year - but there are usually 100s.

Madame Fromage said...

Ooo, I have always wanted to make this. I tried a batch at a party once and never forgot its fizzy glory. Thanks for a great post!

tommy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Grazing Kate said...

Thanks, Mme Fromage! I haven't actually ever tried elderflower champagne, so you're one up on me - I was inspired by Hugh making it and thought that it sounded like the perfect (nearly free) summer drink as I love elderflower cordial cocktails.

Grazing Kate said...

Popped open the Elderflower Champagne at the weekend....and it was very good indeed. Nice bubbles, good flavour, very much like fizzy elderflower cordial but slightly dryer (although it is a sweet drink) and a very pleasant alcohol buzz. Initially assumed it was about the strength of cider, but it might have been a tad stronger. Drank 2 litres of the stuff between four of us pre-dinner on Fri eve. Worried that I only have 4 litres left!

I gently unscrewed the lid on the 3 bottles every day to relieve some of the build-up of carbon dioxide, but after 8 days, I have just left them alone and will drink them all very quickly so don't think I need to worry about explosions!

Grazing Kate said...

Popped open the Elderflower Champagne at the weekend....and it was very good indeed. Nice bubbles, good flavour, very much like fizzy elderflower cordial but slightly dryer (although it is a sweet drink) and a very pleasant alcohol buzz. Initially assumed it was about the strength of cider, but it might have been a tad stronger. Drank 2 litres of the stuff between four of us pre-dinner on Fri eve. Worried that I only have 4 litres left!

I gently unscrewed the lid on the 3 bottles every day to relieve some of the build-up of carbon dioxide, but after 8 days, I have just left them alone and will drink them all very quickly so don't think I need to worry about explosions!

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