Elderflower champagne tastes of British summer. Unusually this is something you will struggle to buy, you have to instead engage in the quest for the flower. You start by seeking them out, keeping an eye as you walk along the routes through your parks and neighbourhoods. Once you find a tree with those beautiful blossoms, pick them and thank the tree. Back at home, you can view your treasure more closely, shake any bugs off them and then put them with the rest of your ingredients in a large pan to start brewing.
I remember the smell of elderflowers from when I was a kid, although I didn’t know their name. All of the different flowers from the bushes and trees around our area were inspected and sniffed. In the spring and early summer we would use these flowers for decorating various dens that we made, or put them in bouquets as gifts for our toys, or offerings for faeries. In the autumn different berries and leaves would be mixed into potions that smelt so pungent we implicitly knew they shouldn’t be eaten.
As an adult, I don’t spend as much time making potions and floral offerings, which is part of the reason that making elderflower champagne (or fizz, we’re not supposed to call it champagne) appeals so much to me. I use this recipe from Spruce Eats. Unlike a lot of foraged alcoholic concoctions this one really does turn water into wine, rather than you just adding a flavouring to a drink you already have. There is something magical about the brewing process, and the fact that we can do it ourselves in our kitchens without expensive fancy equipment is brilliant. It’s also incredibly cheap to make. I never buy bottles to put it in, just save ones that were headed to the recycling bin and reuse them.