Last Saturday the weather was boiling, my son and I had an hour or two to spare, so we decided to get busy with the fizzy. We set about making Elderflower Champagne - Yum! Oh, and some sweet cordial for the kids too.
Folklore states, that if you stand beneath the Elder tree during midsummer, you might see fairies; this is much more likely if you have already been at the Elderflower champagne! With this in mind, we equipped ourselves with a large carrier bag and walked off down the road to pick a bag-full of blooms from these ubiquitous guardians of the hedgerows.
The citrusy Elderflowers are one of the quintessential aromas of Summer, along with freshly mowed lawns and thundery rain on hot tarmac. A good friend of mine says that you should always pick your Elderflowers in the morning because they can smell more like cat’s wee in the evening (nice!) – so take heed.
It only took us about half an hour to pick 50 or so heads, then we headed back, buying the other ingredients on the way home. We saw bushes with at least 200 flowers on, so there's plenty left for Elderberry Port later in the year.
While I cleaned all the buckets, pans, sieves and recycled bottles my son was counting and stripping the flowerheads from the stalks and leaves, which should not be included.
In a fairly short time, everything was done, then we just had to wait two days, although my helpers always get a glassful before it’s properly ready. Needless to say, both buckets needed testing and both got the thumbs up from the kids. We made several pints of Cordial and about two gallons of Champagne (it was a big hit last year and we ran out too soon).
The champagne takes two weeks to ferment, till then the kids are making do, on a diet of delicious Wild Strawberries and the Elderflower cordial, which was ready in two days.