We have 5 recycled champagne bottles and a couple of heavy duty bottles with flip-top type tops that we are using for this batch, and maybe a couple of other bottles. These are all ones we know (hopefully) won't explode, although it will be popped out into the shed when bottled just in case.
35 elderflower heads – pick the ones with the strongest scent 2.5kg granulated sugar 2 proper tablespoons of white wine vinegar 5 litres boiling water & some cold water Juice and grated skin (zest) of 5 lemons – unwaxed if possible Juice and grated skin (zest) of 1 lime – also unwaxed
I have picked approximately 20-25 flower heads - all a good size and so fragrant. To start the champagne, the sugar is dissolved in boiling hot water (1kg to 1 litre of water) and then this is poured into the brewing container. We bought a large brewing container last year quite cheaply, any large container will do so long as you can cover it with muslin. Add more cold water to the sugar water up to the desired amount you want to make.
Add the Elderflowers, the juice of a few lemons and the zest of the lemons, and 1-2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Give it a gentle stir or swish. Cover with a clean muslin and leave somewhere cool and airy for a couple of days to ferment. After a couple of days it should start to ferment - it'll look foamy on the top - and if not you could add a little yeast (we never needed to before). Cover it again and leave for another 4-5 days.
It is absolutely delicious, easy to make and so much cheaper. Several bottles of champagne for the cost of a bag of sugar, a couple of tbsp of white wine vinegar and some lemons (unless you grow your own) - the elder flowers are free to pick, and well water is on tap. The only other cost was very little on the seals, but necessary. Compare that to bought bottles of champagne, and with that lovely summery taste of elder flowers it tastes so much better, and we know exactly what is in it.
The key for us this year is using the stronger bottles to avoid explosions, cleaning up the mess and losing precious and delicious champagne.
Time now to watch and wait ...