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Member recipe

Elderflower champagne

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(5 ratings)

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Serves 1 - 6 Litres

Make your own bubbly with this elderflower champagne recipe from River Cottage Spring

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  • * 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)


    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.

Comments, questions and tips

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22nd Jun, 2019
I make the elderflower champagne and it is day 3 in pot. However today I noticed small dots of green mould on the lemon bits. I took them all out including the elderflowers but I am wondering should I chuck it all out and start again? The pot has been sitting in our kitchen with clean cloth on top. Why do you think the mould formed? Should I throw out or do you think it will be okay?
27th Jun, 2018
I made this following the recipe but for some reason the fermentation process didn't start even after I added some wine yeast. I sterilised the container, tried again but used champagne yeast and heyho, it worked . . . . . I'm please I persisted.
23rd Jun, 2016
Is it ok to out the stems in with the flowers of do I have to take the flower heads of individually please
11th Jul, 2015
This works best if your water is not chlorinated; perhaps the chlorine kills the yeast.
AdeleTheSmell's picture
29th Jun, 2016
I know that using tap water that has sat overnight is recommended for sourdough starters etc, to ensure the chlorine evaporates off, but that is because the chlorine will kill the bacteria rather than the yeast. This recipe calls for hot water, so the chlorine will be evaporated already.
23rd Jun, 2016
Call me daft but is it ok to put the stalks in also with the flowers not massive stalks thanks
AdeleTheSmell's picture
29th Jun, 2016
Yes, adding the stalks is fine.
6th May, 2015
I would suggest releasing some of the gas every so often once bottled to prevent bottles exploding, as happened to me! Even using strong glass bottles! The second time I made this, I also weighed down the flowers using a clean bowl to prevent them moulding as they did the previous year. Meant the finished product tasted much nicer! Nice, easy and inexpensive way to have some booze.
Nicole Wallace's picture
Nicole Wallace
12th Jun, 2018
I weighed down my flowers as this seemed like a good idea but now how do you know whether the flowers are fermenting without the yeast? I don't know if I need to add yeast?
AdeleTheSmell's picture
29th Jun, 2016
I use plastic bottles that previously contained fizzy water, I released the gas ever so often, but not sure it was necessary, just seemed like a sensible precaution as I could see the bottle was bulging and it was reassuring to see and hear that the yeast was still working it's magic.
7th Jun, 2020
Seeking guidance. Had prepped the brew as directed, but was called away unexpectedly for a week to help a friend after a fall and broken bones. Upon return, flowers were mouldy and there was an accompanying ‘special fragrance’. Discarded the flowers and filtered the liquid through double thickness cotton into a carbon and put a gas- release top on. Unpleasant smell has gone. Liquid is cloudy and doesn’t seem to be settling/clearing. Any suggestions as to what I might do to rescue the “brew?”. Many thanks in advance.
Jacs Cart's picture
Jacs Cart
7th May, 2019
Hi, is this alcoholic & if so does anyone know the % please? TIA.
Junk Bunce's picture
Junk Bunce
13th Jun, 2018
FYI - it is totally NOT ok to include the stems in this recipe as Elderflower stems contain glycosides, which effectively break down into sugar and cyanide. It is highly advisable to remove as much of the large green stems as possible, leaving only small stems, while using Elderflowers or Elderberries (a clean tight comb works wonders). Using the elder stems or leaves is not dissimilar to consuming green potatoes (which are incidentally also poisonous).