It is that time of year again, yep, time to start foraging through the hedgerows for goodies to pick!
I've made elderflower fizz and cordial for the past few years and use tried and tested country recipes I was shown on a forum. They are good, there is no faffing about with yeast and demijohns or anything remotely terrifying like that. Just flower heads and a few basic ingredients, and Bob's your uncle! The good thing about elderflowers is the season is fairly long for a wild flower, usually four or five weeks. This gives you plenty of time to pick enough to make a decent amount of drink, even if, like this year, we appear to be in the middle of a monsoon! Wet flowers is not good, all the magic is in the pollen with elder, it acts as a yeast and causes the fizzing. Best to try and pick the flower heads in the morning too.
Elderflower fizz recipe
675g sugar, 4.5 litres water, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, finely pared rind and strained juice of a lemon, 4 large elderflower heads with flowers snipped from stems.
Pour the sugar into a large bowl or pan and add the water. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Stir in vinegar, lemon rind, juice and elderflowers. Cover and leave to stand for 48 hours. Strain through scalded muslin or a jelly bag and pour into clean screw top PLASTIC bottles (at this point the liquid is not fizzy) and leave to stand for three weeks, by which time it will have become wonderfully fizzy, Chill before serving.
Right, a few things I have learned over the years; don't snip each individual flower off it's stem, just cut them all off roughly in one go. You can use glass bottles if you use ones which have held a fizzy drink, as these will have been made to withstand the gasses, but be careful. You must unscrew the bottle tops each day to relieve the fizz, otherwise you end up with a fountain of froth and sticky walls! Use plastic bottles that have held fizzy pop, the lids are better. Don't pick elderflowers if they smell like cat pee, the drink will taste like it! And finally, the finished product does contain alcohol (typically 2%) so be careful who you offer it to and make sure no-one drinks and drives!
I use these lovely clear 5 litre buckets with lids to brew my elderflower fizz;