Elderflower fizz

elderflowerWhile making this fizz isn’t particularly complicated, it can go wrong, mainly if the equipment isn’t totally sterile. Mildly alcoholic, it depends on the natural yeasts that appear on the flowers, so you have to a) collect the flowers early in the morning on a dry day when they have most pollen and b) collect perfect freshly opened heads and check for insects before you cut them…(the freshest heads often have a slightly concave shape). This is because you can’t wash the flowers – lay the flowerheads out on some paper when you get home, and any wee beasties will crawl away.

As I said in the post for Elderflower cordial, please forage responsibly 🙂

Ingredients

30 heads of elderflowers

1kg sugar, preferably castor

3 unwaxed lemons, zested and juiced

3 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar

8 litres of water

You need a very clean bucket, or a stainless steel or enamel pan of 10 litres capacity,

and very clean ex fizzy drinks bottles to take 8-9 litres.

Method

Pick over your flowers for bugs, remove as many flowers as you can from their stalks, then snip away as much stalk as possible. Add the sugar and 2-3 litres of water to your receptacle, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the rest of the water, then elderflowers along with the juice, zest and vinegar. Cover with a clean piece of damp muslin and leave in a cool place for 2-3 days, stirring once a day with a sterile utensil.

If, after the 2nd day, it is not starting to gently bubble/show some signs of (subtle) effervescence you can add a pinch of yeast and stir again, but you shouldn’t need to do this. If you do, cover again and leave for another 2-3 days, allowing it to ferment and brew.

Strain the liquid carefully through a sieve lined with double muslin and funnel into strong fizzy drinks plastic bottles. The potion can produce a lot of gas, so you need to check and release some gas out – don’t take the screwtops off completely, as this might let in unwanted bacteria in the air. This is known as ‘burping the bottles’!

If you forget, the bottles will fall over – which is the great advantage of using plastic over glass, which could just explode. I keep mine in the bathroom, just in case I end up with an overflowing bottle and a sticky mess.

It is ready to drink after 2-3 weeks. It is only mildly alcoholic, but it is very moreish.

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Elderflower Cordial

This is so easy to make. Because I haven’t got a reliable way to sterilize my bottles, I freeze mine – which also helps me stop myself from guzzling it all in a couple of months.
Pick the elderflowers on a sunny, dry day – you want perfect heads with flowers just opened, no brown blossoms. Before you pick a head, check it’s not too infested with greenfly, and don’t take all the heads off any one tree (please). Obviously, choose trees as far away from busy roads as possible.

Ingredients
25-30 elderflower heads
1.75 litres boiling water
1kg white sugar
4 unwaxed lemons
NB if you are bottling your cordial, you may want to add 20g of citric acid

Method
Wash your flowerheads, drain, shake dry(ish)and then place them in a plastic bag in the fridge overnight or for several hours – this helps the flowers come off the stalks. Peel one lemon very finely – you don’t want any of the white pith. Shake as many flowers free as you can, then snip away as much of the remaining stalks as possible, and place flowers and zest from the lemon in a bowl large enough for them and the water. Pour over boiling water, cover with a teatowel, and leave overnight or for at least 8 hours. Strain liquid through a fine sieve or piece of muslin. In a non reactive pan, add the infused water, sugar, the juice of the lemons and the citric acid if you’re using it and over a gentle heat, bring up to a simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
If you’re bottling it in glass, decant while still hot into your sterilized bottles, leaving 2cm at the top (to allow a mini vacuum to form as it cools), and seal straight away. If you’re freezing it, allow to cool and then transfer to your containers, again allowing some free space as it will expand a little as it freezes.
Dilute to taste with still or fizzy water, 1 part cordial to 4-5 parts water.