I had been planning to make elderflower Vodka for weeks, since I saw the first Elderflower umbels begin to flower. I bought Vodka and waited for a lovely summers day to go out and gather some elderflowers. In came the rain, and the gales, and cold weather, Brrr, not going out in this!
Yesterday I noticed that most of the elderflowers were already finished and decided today would have to be the day, or it was all over for another year, and no elderflower vodka. This morning it was sunny and still, a perfect day, and I only needed to walk a short way from my door to find a small elderflower bush with a shady side which was less advanced than I’d seen out and about yesterday. Ten or so Umbels picked and back to my suntrap back garden.
So what else do I need? a Lemon, and a bottle of Vodka, 100g of sugar, and a glass jar.
I gently removed the flower heads from the stems, Elderflowers aren’t toxic but the wood and stems are, I don’t think I would poison anyone if I’d left the stems on but you just never know. I de-stem the flowers over a plate so I can check for foreign bodies or small creatures, which can be encouraged away or squashed according to preference. I encouraged some small creatures to depart, the ones who wouldn’t go got squashed.
On top of the flowers went the zest of a lemon, and a 100 grams of sugar, and a 75cl bottle of Vodka, (it should have been a Ltr but I only had a 75cl bottle) So only 75 cls of Elderflower vodka this year.
On top of the flowers I put 3 layers of greaseproof paper and the lemon slices, this is to hold the flowers under the vodka to stop them going brown and colouring the vodka.
I found the recipe at wild at heart foods, thanks and credit where it’s due.
note to self… next time cut the paper to fit the jar, 3 or 4 layers slightly offset, each tucked down the side of the jar slightly will hold the flowers down better. Some of the lemon slices can go under the paper, all of them is too many. I have made elderflower liqueur before, see :- Elderflower liqueur
My Dearest has recently become a wine maker, needs must when the money runs out. I thought I’d join him, so we have set up a micro brewery in the kitchen. My first effort was to use a kit for Elderflower Wine, but I could not help feeling I was cheating; a can of Sancerre grape concentrate and a packet of dried Elder flowers doesn’t really leave me feeling the joy of the hunter gatherer filling her store cupboards with God’s Bounty plucked from the hedgerow.
I dug out an old book I had on country wine making, and found a recipe for elderflower wine that called for the gathering of real Elderflowers in the byways and field margins. We walked along a local cycle path well away from any road, and cut only two heads from each Elder tree (Sambucus Nigra) leaving plenty of flowers to produce berries for the birds (or maybe elderberry wine). There were so many Elder trees we only had to walk a few hundred yards to collect enough.
Back at the ranch, a pint of fresh Elderflowers, sugar, water, vinegar, lemons and yeast were put in a bucket to macerate for a few days before I strained the flowers off and putting the liquid in a demijohn.
Normally wine will take 10-14 days to brew depending on the ambient temperature and then stop. My wine has been has been bubbling away for more than 4 weeks and still going. I suspect it will be rocket fuel and will need to be served in thimbles.
I’ve been offered the flowers from an ornamental Elder, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea, flavour wise, we’ll see how this batch turns out. I’ve dried the excess flowers, in case I want to make some more before next summer.
In the meantime we have a very satisfactory “cellar” developing which hopefully will be ready to drink by Christmas, Happy Days!