An aromatic sparkling drink with many medicinal values.
As I mentioned in my earlier post here, Elder flower is absolutely a wonderful aromatic and medicinal herb that has been used by ancient people, tracing back to Roman times to make healthy drinks. Elder flower was a perfect candidate to make "champagne" or cordial not only because it's healthy but it also contain natural yeast on the blossom that creates a tasty fermentation.
I have been making this "Champagne" since a while and this year I tried with a twist of spruce needle as an additional ingredient. The final drink was a sour sparkling drink. I didn't really like my "Champagne" to be sour so I will omit spruce in this recipe and will just follow the original or traditional style.
NOW LET'S JUMP INTO THE RECIPE:
30 g elder flowers (fresh)
1 liter of non chlorinated water
4 tablespoons brown or raw sugar
3 slices of lemon
Glass jar (1 Liter)
Pick some fresh elder flowers that grow away from busy streets. If you see some bugs on the flowers, shake it a few times so they can drop to the ground or escape by flying away. You shouldn't be washing the flowers because it will remove the naturally occurring yeast on the blossom. We need this yeast for the fermentation.
Using a fork, gently remove the elder flower petals from the stem. We want to use only the flower petals.
Place the elder flowers & lemon slices in a clean glass jar. Dissolve the sugar in the water (1L) and pour it into the jar. Cover the jar with a piece of clean cloth and tied it with a thread or rubber band. Leave it on this mixture to infuse for a about two weeks.
In two weeks time, you will notice bubbles starting to form on top and the liquid turning cloudy. Now its time to sieve the liquid. Using a strainer, remove all the flower petals and the lemon pieces. Pour the strained liquid into a flip cap bottle. Don't fill till the top of the bottle but leave some space (about 2 inches) to allow some space for the gas build up.
If the liquid is not sweet enough, you should be adding 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp sugar (healthy sugar please - brown or raw) into each bottle to start the secondary fermentation. But if your liquid is sweet enough, then you can omit this step. Secondary fermentation means, you let the liquid to ferment again in the bottle to produce more fuzzy effect.
After filling the bottles with the liquid, let it ferment for another 1 to 2 weeks. At this time it is advisable to release some pressure inside the bottle by opening the cap (burping) once or twice a week. After two weeks the "Champagne" is ready to go! Enjoying this "Champagne" in hot weather is ideal.
SOME QUESTIONS YOU MAY ASK AND THE ANSWERS FOR YOU:
Can I ferment the Elder flower Champagne more than two weeks in the bottle?
Yes you can ferment it more than two weeks when it's in the bottle. But the more you wait the more sourer it gets. I prefer to drink this Elder flower "Champagne" when it's still a little sweet.
How to stop the fermentation in order to enjoy the sweet taste?
You can drastically slow the fermentation by keeping the bottles in the refrigerator or in the cool basement.
What if mold formed on top of the fermentation?
In my experience I have never had a mold on fermenting Elder flowers. But suppose if that happens to you, you should throw the entire batch and start a new one.
Will this fermentation produce alcohol?
Yes in the secondary fermentation (in bottle), the liquid can produce certain amount of alcohol if left too long to ferment. This can happen when there is so much unused sugar present in the liquid before bottling. The yeast will convert the sugar to alcohol in the absence of oxygen.