Elderflower Sherbet Lemon & Elderflower Syrup

Elderflower Sherbet lemon drink and elderflower syrup

elderflower

elderflower

This year thus far has been a year of travel and I can safely say that I have seen elderflower in bloom from Scotland to Brighton. Such a delightful sight from the train window as shocks of white flash across our hedgerows. A few years ago I remember walking around the alps and finding elderflower growing across the mountain paths, there was something about the smell of the elder perfume and the fresh mountain air that made picking an ethereal business. Far better than picking elder that smells of cat pee from a supermarket car park in the rain!

For years I’ve made elderflower cordial and elderflower champagne but this year I’ve been experimenting a little with many of my older drinks in the days before we could just inject drinks with Co2 people would use a reaction with bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda, sodium bicarbonate) and an acid to make fizz. This is exactly what this recipe does. I advise drinking it fairly quickly to keep the fizz!

First you need to make elderflower syrup.

Elderflower Syrup

200g sugar (double if making for coffee)
210ml water
1 tablespoon of dried elderflowers or 2 tablespoons of fresh
1 tablespoon of vodka

Pick your elderflowers first thing in the morning. Remove from the stem and ensure that you don’t have any green bits, just flowers.

Heat the water in a saucepan over a medium high heat and be careful not to boil. Stir in the sugar until you can’t feel a crunch on the bottom of the saucepan. Take off the heat, add your elderflowers and stir. Allow to cool, add your vodka and decant into a glass bottle.

Elderflower sherbet lemon

The lemons that I used for this recipe were hand picked by my 2 year old son from his Aunty Susan’s house in Portugal. There is a huge difference in flavour and the amount of juice that you get from her lemons than you would from a supermarket lemon. It isn’t always possible to get Aunty Susan’s lemons so I try to source some good organic ones, ones that are big, fat and full of flavour. Not the tiny waxed things that pass for lemons in most supermarkets. You’ll pay a lot more, but it is worth it. Here in Bristol good independent grocers like Earthbound, Gaines and Dig in are great places to get lemons.

There are a number of cocktails that go really well with this recipe, think gin! You’ll be able to find many of them in my crowd sourced book – Wild booze and hedgerow cocktails.

2 parts rich elderflower syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 part freshly squeezed Lemon juice (juice from half a big lemon)
4 parts water to top up, less to make a richer drink
Ice and lemon wedge

Add the elderflower syrup and lemon juice to a tall Collins glass or half pint glass. Top up with water and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. You may want to do this over a sink as it has a habit of fizzing right up and over the glass. Drop in the ice and add a slice of lemon and sip in the sun or if you live in Glasgow, sit looking at a picture of the sun.

 

Mid Summer in Glasgow

Mid Summer in Glasgow

Andy Hamiton’s delicious alcoholic elderflower champagne

The fizz that characterises elderflower champagne is a result of bottling before the fermentation process has finished, normally this process is started by capturing wild yeast. This can cause problems: namely, lack of alcohol, exploding bottles and disappointing results.

(for more hedgerow drinks don’t forget to help fund my 3rd book – Wild Booze and Hedgerow Cocktails)

elder champagne with elderflowers By using a bit of fermenting know-how you can make a sparking elderflower “champagne” every year that may rival any real champagne (though I am biased since it’s my own recipe).

The first problem to look at is using wild yeast. Some areas can be wild yeast deserts meaning your champagne will never ferment. If you do manage to capture a wild yeast you never know which yeast will get to work on your drinks. Each yeast works differently so you can be in for a lottery of flavours and alcohol strengths. The only way around that is to add your own yeast and champagne yeast is the best option; this has the added bonus of making your elderflower champagne alcoholic.

Elderflower champagne in a glass

Elderflower champagne in a glass courtesy of Roy Hunt

My recipe doesn’t resemble a normal elderflower champagne recipe and it is essentially a recipe for elderflower wine which is then re-fermented. This means more reliable results and if you change your mind halfway through at least you are left with some great white wine.

There was a pleasant country belief that if the flowers were put into ale, and a man and woman drank it together, they would be married within a year. – Lesley Gordon, 1985

ALCOHOLIC ELDERFLOWER CHAMPAGNE Grated rind of one lemon 1 litre/2 pints of elderflowers 3.5 litres/8 pints of boiling water 1.3kg/3 lbs sugar Juice of one lemon Champagne yeast, 1 tsp yeast nutrient.

Put flowers into fermentation bin and mix with lemon rind, lemon juice and sugar. Pour over boiling water and allow very gently stir until fully dissolved. Allow the water to cool to around 18°c – 20°c,  then filter through a muslin cloth and add the yeast and 1 tsp yeast nutrient. Leave in a place with a steady temperature of around 20°c for a 10-14 days or until the majority of fermentation has ceased.

When you are sure all the bubbling has ceased, strain in demijohn and allow to ferment fully. About three months should do the job, keep checking with a hydrometer. When you get consistent readings over 3-4 days your wine will have fully fermented.

Bring 200ml of water to the boil and add 70g of sugar. Allow to cool then strain the wine into a another demijohn leaving the sediment. Add the 200ml of sugar solution and leave in a warm place for 24 hours.

Siphon into champagne bottles seal with champagne corks and secure them in place with metal cages. The wine should be kept at room temp for the first 10 days. After this time it is moved to a cooler place, such as a cellar. They should initially be stored horizontally and over the next three months they should be gradually moved upside down. This can be done by placing the neck into sand. Chill for 24 hours before serving and do not disturb the bottle before opening.

Any problems making alcoholic elderflower champagne?

It’s funny how so many people have the same problems when making elderflower champagne. I’ve noted most of them and hopefully, you’ll find help on my article Elderflower champagne problems from mould, no fizz to exploding bottles.