Sunday, 10 June 2012

Elderflower Champagne

I booked the last week off work in the hope that we might get some good weather and that I could catch up on jobs in the garden... no such luck though. Luckily I found plenty of jobs to keep me busy (and dry) indoors. Sam and I are getting married next year and as with everything here at BB&B we are doing it on a VERY tight budget. For those of you about to close this window thinking you're in for an avalanche of wedding related bridezilla posts, don't worry, I will be keeping them to a minimum!
We have decided to make and do as much as possible to keep costs down and one of the things we are doing is making some of our own food and drink. We got really into foraging last year and we wanted to include something we could make from foraging (ie free) for the wedding. So this week I collected some elderflowers and had a go at making elderflower champagne. It was actually pretty easy, or at least the recipe I used was.
First I collected six heads of elderflowers, I put these in 4.5 litres of cold water with 2 sliced up lemons. I left this to steep for around 2 days although you could leave it for as little as 24 hours. I then strained the liquid through a muslin cloth, added 2 tablespoons of vinegar - the recipe I used said that cider vinegar would be best but I didn't have any and neither did Asda so I used white wine vinegar instead. I also added 750 grams of sugar and stirred until it dissolved. It smells delicious and although very sweet at the moment, it tastes pretty good too. I bottled the champagne in plastic bottles (apparently this is better than glass because it can't explode!). The lids are only gently screwed on to stop fruit flies and other beasties getting in. According to the recipe, I now need to leave the champagne for about 2 weeks, tiny bubbles are already starting to form which is a good sign apparently because it means the natural yeast in the elderflowers is working on the sugar. When bubbles have stopped forming I will need to screw the lids on tight and leave them to carbonate for a couple more days. Then all that will remain will be to chill and drink! According to the recipe the champagne will become drier the longer it is left and will most likely be too dry after about three months (not that booze ever lasts that long around here!). This means that to make it in time for the wedding which is in August next year, I will need to make up enough for all our guests around the end of June/beginning of July. We will do several taste tests with this batch to see exactly when it is perfect for our tastes. I can't wait to try it now!

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