Elderflower Champagne

by Emma Young

This recipe will work with many different herbs; simply do your research on safe proportions and preparation for each specific plant, and substitute for the elderflower. If this is your first experiment in brewing, you can start smaller with a 1 gallon carboy, and adjust the ingredients as follows: 1 pint elderflower, 1 gallon water, 1 pound light brown sugar, juice of 1 lemon, 1⁄2 teaspoon champagne yeast, and 2 tablespoons corn sugar for priming.

Ingredients

  • 4 pints dried elderflower
  • 5 gallons water
  • 2 pounds white sugar
  • 3 pounds light brown sugar
  • 4 lemons, juiced and strained
  • 1 packet champagne yeast
  • 1 cup corn sugar
Elderflower Champagne

Maeve Broome

Brewing Equipment: 5 gallon carboy, airlock, siphon, clean bottles, bottle caps (unused), bottle capper.

Boil water in a pot, remove from heat, and add in the elderflower, sugars, and lemon juice. Stir until sugars are dissolved, and cover. Make sure whatever lid you are using fits snugly to prevent airflow and wild yeasts from entering your brew. Infuse for 24 hours.

Decant brew into a five-gallon carboy, using a siphon or funnel and a sieve or cheesecloth, being careful not to let any plant matter in. Add in the contents of the yeast packet, and fit the airlock into the carboy.

In a day or two you will see the airlock releasing bubbles from the brew. Watch over the course of the next week or two, until the brew stops releasing bubbles. It is now ready to bottle.

Sanitize your bottles and caps. (Your 5 gallons will give you 48-54 12-ounce bottles, but I recommend using some larger bottles as well, in case you have company). Dissolve the corn sugar in fresh water, just a cup or two. When this has cooled to just above room temperature, add it into the carboy, being careful not to disturb the sediment at the bottom from the first fermentation. The brew is now primed so your bottles will be carbonated. Siphon the primed brew into each bottle, again being careful not to disturb the sediment. Cap each bottle immediately, and set them all into a dark, warm corner. Be prepared for a few explosions, and open a bottle after one month. If it’s very bubbly, drink away! If it still seems sweet and a little flat, let it ferment longer, tasting a new bottle every week or so.

Yield: 5 gallons


Suggested Readings

For the beginning brewer through to professional, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian is the authoritative text.

For the more archaic recipes, but also valuable medicinal and historical information on herbs, Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation, by Stephen Harrod Buhner is fascinating.

For the modern brewer and homesteader type, The River Cottage Booze Handbook by John Wright will walk you through the growing and foraging season with accompanying recipes.