Ok so it’s not strictly related to perfume making but since moving to The New Forest I’ve been more interested in the various ways we can use the scented plants in our hedgerows. Each year I make a batch of sparkling elderflower champagne.
Elderflower is a bit of a weed and grows rampantly if left unchecked but like Dandelion its so good for you and can be used to make a multitude of medicinal (and not so medicinal) concoctions.
The scent of elderlower can be an aquired taste and a bit musty BUT the flavour is deliciously fragrant.
You Will Need
- 30 Elderflower Heads (green stalks removed)
- 1.5 kg sugar (white is better if you want to keep a light champagne colour)
- 6 unwaxed lemons
- 10 litres water
- 1 Sachet champagne yeast
- 10 litre brewing bucket with airlock
- Champagne Bottles with corks and cages
First you’ll need to sterilise your equipment – I used VWP Cleaner Steriliser Powder
After picking your elderflower leave on a paper sheet or towel to let the bugs crawl out but do not wash.
In the meantime set 4 litres water on the hob to heat up and zest and juice your lemons.
Add the sugar to your brew bucket and pour on the hot water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. top up with the remaining 6 litres cold water.
Add your elderflower heads, lemon juice and zest. give it a thorough stir.
Add the yeast following the instructions on the packet. (The one I bought said to sprinkle on the surface and leave for 15 minutes before stirring but some require activation first)
Make sure the lid of your brewing bucket fits tightly and fit the airlock (fill the airlock halfway with water). This will give you an indication of the fermentation taking place. As the yeast starts to work the airlock will bubble.
Leave to ferment for two weeks.
Strain out the elderlower and lemon and pour into a clean bucket. I pour through muslin into a spare brew bucket. Refit the airlock and leave to ferment for a further week. By the end of this time the fermentation should have ceased and its time to bottle.
Make sure you use proper champagne of prosecco bottles for your elderflower champagne and seal with corks and cages. If you don’t the pressure will build up inside the bottle and either pop or break the glass. You can buy corks and cages from any brew shop and we asked all our neighbouring pubs to save bottles for us. (these obviously need to be clean and sterilised.
Measure 1/2 tsp sugar into each bottle before siphoning in the champagne. Take care not to sipon from the bottom of the brew bucket or you’ll get sediment (I usually lose a few 100mls of sludge)
Adding sugar to the bottles will recharge the yeast and create a fizz.
Add the cork and twist a cage tightly onto each bottle. This will hold the cork in under pressure.
Leave to sit in a dark place for at lease 2 months (the longer you leave it the smoother it will be.
By New Year’s Eve it will be perfect (if you can wait that long!I’m by no means a homebrew expert and I got my original recipe from https://supperinthesuburbs.com/2016/07/24/elderflower-champagne/ but I do find that brewing and making perfume do go hand in hand.
To keep up to date with my countryside goings-on and for perfumery tips follow me on www.instagram.com/karengilbert