Elderflower Champagne Recipe

When you have enough Elderflower Cordial (you can get to our favourite recipe here) you might like to think about Elderflower Champagne. By the way it is a good excuse to plant a few more Elder (Sambucus nigra) bushes - as you will find you have friends calling round in June and July almost daily and for the oddest reasons.....

This is a recipe that has been in our family for at least four generations and it is known as Gonga's Pop - after the great-grandmother of the present youngest generation. She used to make it to keep us quiet when we were kids - being mildly alcoholic (about the same as a light lager) it did that very nicely. It is also the best Elderflower Champagne recipe we know:

You will need (to make 10-12 litres):

  • a really clean container big enough for the mix (large bucker, bin, brewing tub etc)
  • a clean cloth (muslin is best) to cover said container
  • strong bottles which will need to be sterilised at bottling time (the ones with spring closures are best, but screw capped fizzy drinks bottles work well)
  • syphon tube (one with a clip or tap on the end is preferable)
  • 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

Instructions:

  • Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water then put in the large container and add cold water to make a total volume of between 7 and 8 litres.
  • Mix in the elderflowers, the white wine vinegar, the lemon and lime juice and their zests and stir the brew.
  • Cover the whole thing with the clean cloth (or use an airlock if you are a brewer) and put it in a cool place to ferment for two days. If, after a couple of days it has not started fermenting (easy to tell as there will be a foamy sort of scum on top) then add a pinch of dried yeast to get it going. Generally you will find that enough wild yeasts came in with the elderflowers for this not to be necessary.
  • Keep the container covered/airlocked and let the champagne carry on fermenting for another 4-5 days.
  • Using a winemakers sieve or the muslin you covered it with, strain the champagne into another container, let it settle for a couple of hours and siphon it into the sterilised bottles. Do make sure they can take a LOT of pressure - this is not known as Gonga's Pop for nothing. Seal the bottles tightly. N.B. If you are using plastic drinks bottles keep an eye out for ones that start bulging - if they do, loosen the cap to let some carbon dioxide out and then tighten again.
  • Leave it to ferment for at least another week after which it is delicious although it gets better with age. In nearly a hundred years the family has never found out how long it keeps - however much was made never lasted more than a year...

Enjoy ice cold


Creative Commons License

Elderflower Champagne Recipe by
Frances Bosdari is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

49 thoughts on “Elderflower Champagne Recipe”

  • Nancy

    Hi, Just a question about quantities ... the recipe initially says it makes 10-12 litres of EC ... but then further on it says to top up with cold water to make 7-8 lites. Could you clarify how much water to use for me please.
    Many thanks
    Nancy

    Reply
  • Julian

    When you have added all the ingredients except the COLD water, see what literage you have (most buckets have markings on the side). Then add cold water to top it up to about 10 litres.

    Reply
  • Nancy

    In response to Elderflower Champagne Recipe

    Thank you ... so far so good. No mould and no explosions! Letting gas out twice a day. The stuff is incredible - where does it come from?!

    Just wondered how long you have to babysit it for (the letting out of gas) as I'd like to keep a couple of bottles to experiment with how long they'll keep. Will I have to de-gas continually until they are drunk or does it calm down? When will I know it's safe to leave?

    Many thanks.

    Nancy

    Reply
  • Julian

    Great questions.... I wish I had all the answers. We keep our elderflower champagne in glass bottles with hard screw in stoppers & rubber washers (a bit like the old cider bottles) that we bought in a house auction. We release the gas once after about 2 weeks and then keep it. Most years, we have finished our champagne before we get any accidents (we usually make about 100 1 litre bottles which last until the end of December). So that is about 6 months. 2 years ago, using the same elderflower champagne recipe, we made a bumper load and had explosions in February (8 months). We let off some more Elderflower Champagne "steam" then and were still drinking in April. When we let off more pressure then, it did not regerate and ended up flat and rather sickly sweet.

    Hope this helps

    Reply
  • ronnie

    mmm i have been told this is the best elderflower recipe on the web & i cant wait until its ready,ty for the recipe julian,may the elderflower live on!

    Reply
  • [...] also have a recipe for Elderflower Champagne (we call it [...]

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  • Aphrodite's Chocolates
    Aphrodite's Chocolates 1st July 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the great Elderflower champagne recipe,it definitely makes an excellent brew. However, although you say it's only "mildly alcoholic", a hydrometer test gives an SG of 1111 which equates to an ABV of about 13.5%. Put another way, it's as strong as normal champagne, so I'm not surprised it knocked you out as kids and probably explains why it tastes so good.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  • [...] elderflower – next batch By shedsite Champagne batch no 3. recipewas based on a recipe we found here [...]

    Reply
  • Nightshade

    Hi
    Made a similar recipe last year, was fizzy but not alcoholic, nicer than a shop bought one though. Two questions:
    1)What can you use to clear the elderflower fizzy drink?
    2)Can you use other 'edible' flowers such as the common lime tree flowers?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Edward

      Hi Nightshade,
      Can't really help with the first, other than extra filtering with progressively finer sieves?

      People use Tilia flowers to make tea (called tilleul, I think) so I don't think there should be a problem (apart from collecting the flowers!), please let us know if the experiment works out.

      Best,
      Ed

      Reply
  • mother forager

    OOooohhhh I like the sound of this....Just started power walking with the dog to check out the hedgerows and ground where I live. It is filling with lush yellowy elder flowers with that distinct, evocative smell of fresh spring days!! My boys have said to plant a tree of our own so we don't have to troll the countryside! It's more fun to forage and it will be extra incentive now we have a family recipe to try. Our cordial is down to a fine art and we just cleared the freezer of the last 2010 bottles. We just can't wait to get the bucket out and start collecting the elderflower heads....I can hear those corks popping already!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you for the recipe my children are growing up on home grown, home made food and drinks and love a topple of champange when we have guests. CHEERS

    Reply
  • Pete

    Just mixed up my first batch... exciting!

    Reply
  • steve

    Hi, do you need to prime the bottles when bottling it to give it more fizz??

    Reply
    • Edward

      Yes, you can try that. A suggested amount of priming sugar (dextrose) for the 2nd fermentation is 1 level Table spoon (12 grams) per 750 ml bottle, but you may need to tweak that. We're lazy and use a CO2 fizz machine!

      Reply
  • chez

    hi PLEASE HELP QUICK started making the champagne on sunday on tuesday no foam so added dried yeast as you sugessted. i looked today (thursday)dont see any foam, all the flower heads are floating at the top,there is a real strong smell does that mean its formenting? hope it is..... i need this for my sons country wedding.... am i doing right or should i chuck it out and start again?

    Reply
    • julian

      I have to be honest and say I have no idea what is going on; there are too many variables. However, if the container is clean, if the sugar is in solution, if you have added yeast and if the whole is warm enough then it must ferment. So if it is not, one or more of these factors is wrong.

      Hope this helps

      Reply
  • Jonathan

    Hi, I made up a batch recently and there was only very gentle activity at first - probably not a lot of natural yeast in the air in Stoke Newington - so I added a bit of bread yeast (6g) and that got it going, i.e. the real strong smell you referred to. The hydrometer started to sink from 1060 to 1040 over the next few days. I added another 4g of yeast, a bit more sinking down to 1022 and then I bottled it assuming that the fermentation would carry on in the bottles and boy has it done. I have had to release pressure every night for the past three nights and no sign of slowing up:). So my advice is to get a hydrometer and just leave it in the bucket and note down what it does each day - that's the easiest way to tell what is going on.

    Reply
  • Ray Bray

    Hello, I have followed the recipe to the letter, even (belatedly) topping up on the cold water to take it to the 12 litres.

    My problem is, although it looks good, smells good and licking the spoon after a daily stir, there is now scummy type fermentation indication on the top.

    I added some dried yeast yesterday, but still nothing. Although on here you say keep it warm, but on the recipe you say put it somewhere cool to ferment?

    Should it be in a warm place or a cool place?

    Can you help please as I don't really want to have to start again.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Nightshade

    Hello,

    I have just made an elderflower wine, I let it ferment in a bucket for 4 days then put it in a demijohn. It has already stopped bubbling when I put it in the demijohn. Now I'm worried it won't be alcoholic (that's sounds bad I know!) I had sterilised the bottle with a cambden tablet - does anyone know if this killed off the yeast? And why it isn't bubbling?
    Thank you!!

    Reply
    • julian

      The camden tablet probably did it at a guess. Their main purpose is to kill wild yeasts to stop them ruining wine and they will kill any yeast.

      Sorry

      Reply
  • kenny

    Chez, how did your champagne turn out? was it a success? Sometimes it isn't obvious that the stuff is fermenting, 99 out of 100, it ends up fizzing like mad. Can't believe you were making it over 2 weeks ago! Flowers are just in season here in the North-east of Scotland. Whereabouts do you live?

    Reply
  • Susan

    Hi I am about to give the recipe a go - I was wondering what type of yeast should I use in the recipe? is it a special type for wine-making or would regular quick yeast used for bread making do as well?

    Reply
  • can i use demijohns instead of a bucket?

    Reply
  • Hi there, had great success with this last year, so have made about 40 litres this year. The problem with each batch seems to be the same, it is syrupy. I followed the recipe to the letter, any idea what has gone wrong. It is almost undrinkable, although I will probably persevere! The batches are between 3 and 4 weeks old.
    Thanks
    Lisa

    Reply
  • Jo

    Just read your comments Chez, mine is at the same stage now. I added a pinch dried yeast a few days ago and it has not foamed much. Just strained and bottled, being curious I poked my nose in the demijohn as I couldn't get a strong smell at a distance, and it burnt my nostrils!!!!Now, the last time anything did that I was at the Glenmorangie distillery near Inverness and the final product there blew your socks off so I have faith that all will be ok in a short while. I did have a little taste also before bottling and there is a very instense slight fizz and it already tastes good.
    Good luck with the wedding!

    Reply
  • Ashley

    Can anyone tell me why some Elderflowere Champagne recipes say to us 4-6 'heads' whereas others my say 30-40 for not much more litreage?!

    Cheers,
    Confused Ashley

    Reply
  • [...] a few weeks time. I’ll tell y’all about that tomorrow. Off to spend the evening making Elderflower champagne. Anyone tried that before? « Print Gocco [...]

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  • Thomas Schmidt

    I have made my 2 first batches. First one I have added some yeast. Not sure about the second one yet. I think I might have ruined the natural yeasts in the first batch, because I put in the elderflowers before adding the cold water, which means the brew was to hot.
    I was told by a brewer to let it ferment it self flat for an extra week or so, and then add 7 grams of sugar per. liter to start a new fermenting process, and by doing so, keeping the fizz under control to avoid bottles exploding.
    Anyone tried this?

    Reply
  • Ciaran

    Thank you Julian for the wonderful recipe. I've made 2 double batches but like Lisa, my first batch is syrupy/ almost drinkable. I think this is because the recipe is a little vague on how much water you need to add in. I was probably allowing for the bulk of the elderflower heads and should have added more water. Hopefully the second batch will be better.

    Two questions if I may. I'm releasing the gas from the bottles of the first batch every few days. Will it be less syrupy over time (ie continue to ferment)? Will there be a higher percentage of alcohol given the higher concentration of sugar?

    Thanks again for sharing the recipe.

    Ciaran

    Reply
  • [...] going to be using this elderflower champagne recipe from Ashridge Trees blog.  It seems tried and tested but take a look at the comments below for [...]

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  • elaine

    hi there - trying the elderflower champagne recipe - i had no white wine vinegar so used cider vinegar instead, now on day 4 added little yeast yesterday, can see minute bubbles popping on the surface now, stirred it and tasted what was on the spoon, absolutely delicious....... am going to get some more elderflowers these next 2 days to make a double batch.

    Reply
  • elaine

    can you tell me if using cider vinegar will damage it in any way??? it tastes absolutely gorgeous

    Reply
    • julian

      With the Elderflower Champagne recipe, to be honest, we have never tried with cider vinegar, but I cannot see why it should hurt. Love to hear how it works out though....

      Reply
  • Alex

    Just about to bottle my first ever brew - v excited but question? should I leave it to stop bubbling in the bucket before bottling?

    Reply
  • Sian

    I made my first elderflower champagne when I was a lot younger and maybe more careless (?) with a recipe my Mum gave me and since lost, it was fantastic! I used campden to sterilise the bottles then
    I found your recipe and havent had great success! Not saying it is your recipe, wonder if something to do with the quality of the elderflowers, as I live in the city , but chose the best flowers? Polution is a lot higher since the 1990s.

    Reply
    • julian

      Sorry it has not worked for you this year. The recipe is pretty reliable, but the quality of flower this year has been very poor because of all the rain.

      As for pollution, I think the statistics would argue with you and say the air is cleaner today than it was 20 years ago.

      Reply
  • frank Jones

    Tilleul was mentioned as an option for flavouring. The lime flowers used to make Tilleul are soporific. It is used as a bedtime drink in France to aid sleep.
    Champagne made with these flowers will send you to sleep faster than the elderflower!!
    I love the recipe and the results. Unfortunately I have only just seen the post about making the mix up to ten litres. No wonder we are relaxed after every bottle!

    Reply
  • Amanda Horton

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe, I made some last year - successfully and this week found an overinflated bottle that I had hidden and forgotten about. It was even better (and stronger) with keeping, I wish I'd hidden more than one! I am just about to go and pick more elderflowers to make this years batch. I can't believe that you can make something so delicious from something growing in a hedge,

    Reply
  • jexygirl

    Just had our first 42L batch tested and hydrometer says no alcohol! how is that possible? it is gorgeous, fizzy, we burped to stop explosions, but not over protective, once a day. It tastes delightful, but no idea why its showing no alcohol level on a manuel hydrometer - any thoughtS?

    Reply
  • Cecilia Baird

    Hi Jonothan,
    We have succesfully made your elderflower cordial and champagne fo the last 2 years. Last year we made double and eked it out so that the other day I found 8 'grolsh'type bottles still undrunk. All have a deposit which we would like to clear before we drink it. (Especially desirable now the nice weather has come). Although it looks flat, it is extremely lively as our kitchen ceiling, walls, floor, table can confirm. Professional wine makers freeze the neck of the bottle to remove this 'crud', how do I do it at home, please?
    Last year I used the soupmaker.co.uk to make elderflower marmalade with the citrus fruit plus some of the cordial ; it seemed too wasteful to throw it all away. It made gorgeous marmalade except the peel was a bit tough. It is best not kept too long although really delicious.
    Thank you for your lovely recipes.

    Reply
  • Cecilia Baird

    See previous email
    Our elderflower champagne was about 12 -13.5% proof and absolutely delicious. It took a while to start but eventually went like a steam train once champagne yeast added. This year we will make a starter bottle to get it going.
    When we came to bottle it, it seemed a little dry and flat so we put 1 tsp sugar in the bottle to get a secondary fermentation which the dregs were the product of. Perhaps we shouldn't have done that.

    Reply
    • Ashridge Nurseries
      Ashridge Nurseries 19th May 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Cecilia,
      It sounds as though the second lot of sugar you added to the mix has not finished it fermentation, which is why you now have the 'crud' at the top. We would suggest leaving it for a week or two to see if this starts to disappear, or perhaps try adding some wild yeast which will consume the sugar. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  • Cecilia Baird

    Sorry Jonothan,
    Slight misunderstanding. We made and bottled the champagne last year, putting a teaspoonful of sugar into each bottle which, as you rightly said, caused another fermentation. What we would like help with, if possible, is how to remove this deposit so the champagne is pleasant/fit to drink. Or, have we just cocked up and need to start afresh this year?

    Reply
  • Sam

    Cecilia, the deposit is just yeast sediment and is something you get with most homebrew when bottle conditioned. I would suggest opening very gently to avoid bringing it up with the fizz, then decanting carefully into a jug, clean the sediment from the bottle then refill! Or just serve straight from the bottle carefully into your glass. Even if some is slightly stirred up it won't effect the quality..

    I am bottling mine today and it went slightly too far as I was away for a few days, measuring around 16.5% abv and pretty dry! Going to try and dilute down to 10-12% / back sweeten when bottling.

    Hope that may help...

    Sam

    Reply
  • Lesley

    Hello, have just thrown out a 12 litres of bottled elderflower fizz as it had lots of thick gloopy stuff floating around like seaweed in the bottles ! I sterilised the bottles in the oven as I don't have Camden tablets. Am going to try your recipe and just off to pick elderflowers. I don't want any or much alcohol in it, does this mean that I just follow the basic recipe and don't add further sugar or yeast and drink it sooner rather than leaving it a long time ?

    Reply
  • Eibhlin

    When following your recipe I made the quantity up to 8 ltres and left for couple of days. Not much happened so added some champagne yeast. Fermenting nicely now & will be straining/bottling it in 2 days - my question is: is it too late to add more water at this stage in order to get the 10-12 litres of wine? Thanks

    Reply
    • Julian

      I am not a fermentation expert I am afraid - this is just a recipe we slavishly follow as it makes great elderflower champagne. Rather than give baseless advice I would suggest a little googling should uncover whether adding water this late will kill the fermentation or not.

      Reply
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