28 July 2009

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Elderflower Champagne Recipe

Please note we've amended the amount of sugar in this recipe from the original plus we've talked to Hugh about the various results it produces – he says this is down to the differences in elderflower crop and suggests using glass bottles with swing tops plus keep an eye on the brew.

Makes about 6 litres


  • 4 litres hot water
  • 700g sugar
  • Juice and zest of four lemons
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • About 15 elderflower heads, in full bloom
  • A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)

Method: How to make elderflower champagne

1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.

2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.

3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.

4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).

5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place.

**TOP TIP: Use plastic bottles - 750ml water bottles and let out a tiny bit of air every morning and night. Just a tiny amount to take the edge off but not to lose any fizz. Hopefully, this way, you'll avoid any explosions!!

Now off to find out what an elderflower is & then to try to figure out where I can get my hands on some in the middle of Pittsburgh...

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