Aspall Cyder - Cider and Vinegar

Aspall Cyder Hedgerow Recipes - Elderflower Champagne


Date
15th July 2015

Category
Cook & Eat


In this beautiful warm early summer the hedgerows around the orchards have been burgeoning with blossom - wild rose, elder and brambles. Here our local wild food expert Jon Tyler shares his ideas for capturing the wonderful scents of elderflower.

Nothing says summer has arrived in the countryside quite so emphatically as Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra). Throughout June and July hedgerows and woodlands are adorned with garlands of Elder's frothy creamy flower clusters. No other wild food has quite so many uses; but why does it always seem that the most desirable flowers are just out of reach or behind a vicious thorn-laden bramble bush?  

Why not bring out your inner alchemist and indulge in some wild food wizardry with Elderflower champagne. Relying on the natural yeast present on the flowers to produce the bubbles, you will be stepping back into history; this after all was how fruit beers were originally discovered. I never cease to be amazed by the magical process of yeast producing the fizz (well hopefully). However this recipe come with a warning as natural yeast brewing can be hit or miss, but with a bit of luck will reward your efforts with the ultimate wild food summer celebration tipple.

Jon Tyler - Wild for Woods

  • RECIPE: Elderflower Champagne

    WHAT YOU NEED 

    8 Elder flower heads (in full bloom)
    4 litres of water
    30ml Aspall White Wine Vinegar
    440g Fructose (Fruit sugar)
    1 unwaxed lemon thinly sliced  

    METHOD

    Gently warm ½ a litre of water and add the fructose, stir until all the sugar is dissolved then leave to cool.

    You can  use granulated sugar but will need more (600g) as fructose is proportionately sweeter.

    Place flower heads, sliced lemon, Aspall White Wine Vinegar into a clean bucket or large bowl, then pour in 3½ litres of cold water, finally add the dissolved fructose and give everything a good stir to mix together.  

    Cover the mixture with a clean tea towel or piece of muslin and place in a cool place to steep for 2 – 3 days. Strain the liquid through a muslin lined sieve and pour into warm sterilised bottles with screw on caps.

    Then leave for 2 more days, then test to see if its fizzy. Once the champagne starts to work it needs to be drunk with in a week or so.

    Storing in the fridge will slow down the fermentation and do check it doesn't become too fizzy – if left too long it can become explosive!  

    Serve over ice with lemon or mix with chilled gin for a decadent wild champagne cocktail treat.    

    Written recipes for Elderflower infused vinegar date back to at least to the 17th century and the pungent aroma of the flowers complements the delicate flavour of white wine vinegar beautifully. Use in salad dressings on summer fruits or maybe in next year’s Elder champagne.

  • RECIPE: Elderflower Vinegar

    WHAT YOU NEED

    8 heads of Elderflower
    500ml Aspall Organic White Wine Vinegar
    60 Green Peppercorns (1 teaspoon)  

    METHOD

    Strip the individual flowers from the elder heads, using a folk or a wooden comb and place in a wide necked jar then drop in the green peppercorns.

    In a saucepan warm the vinegar for a minute or so, then pour over the flowers seal and leave to infuse for a week.  

    Pour the mixture from the jar through a fine sieve into vinegar bottles of your choosing then add a sprig or two of fresh elder flowers and a dozen of the peppercorns form the jar to each bottle.

    If you like you can use the steeped flowers in a salad and not waste anything.