If you live in the southern hemisphere and are fortunate enough to have Elder growing in your garden then it's time to get cracking and make Elderflower 'Champagne' so it will be ready in time for Christmas. It's a sparkling drink that's deliciously refreshing and mildly alcoholic. It can be consumed in just two weeks after bottling, but leaving it to mature for six months or more will allow the flavour to fully develop.
10 litres cold water
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 large elderflower heads
1 kg sugar
Add the sugar and white wine vinegar to a fifteen litre, sterilised container (stainless steel or plastic).
Wash the lemons well and peel as thinly as possible. Squeeze them and add the rind and lemon juice to the container.
Discard any insects, dead flowers or leaves from the elderflower heads.
Add the flower heads to the container.
Slowly pour on the water being careful not to bruise the flowers and very gently stir the mixture.
Cover the container with a lid and leave stand for 24 hours, stirring gently every 4 to six hours. If you don't have a lid you can use a large cutting board or something that is flat and will seal the top well enough to keep the light out.
Sterilise enough bottles for ten litres; if you're using plastic bottles you can sterilise them with a solution that can be bought from a Home Brew shop, but make sure you rinse the bottles thoroughly before filling them with the mixture.
Remove the flower heads and lemon rind and, using a small jug as a dipper, pour the mixture through a sieve into a large jug until full.
Strain the mixture from the large jug through a muslin lined funnel into the bottles. When the bottles are full, cap them and place them in an area that is not too cold or too hot. I put mine in the garage as I have had a couple burst and it's a terrible mess to clean up.
Leave them for at least two weeks and chill before drinking.
Proprietor, author, and tutor of The Home Herbalist Online Course.