Elderflower Wine Recipe
Yesterday marked the first day of The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild Campaign. 30 Days Wild is the UK’s annual month-long nature challenge from The Wildlife Trusts. It invites everyone to do something wild every day in June, connecting us all with the beauty and wonder of our natural world. To start the month we walked up to The Long Man of Wilmington with our sandwiches for tea, and picked our first Elderflowers to make this Elderflower Wine Recipe.
Small Batch Wines
It's early June as I write this, and usually the hedgerows would be awash with elderflowers by now. However 2021 has been a strange year so far. The cold temperatures in April/early May and lack of rain in April seems to have combined to make everything about 3-4 weeks' behind where they would usually be.
There were only a few elderflower heads ready, so we picked what we could and decided to make a small batch. I really like making small batch wines, they are ideal for foraged flower wines when you can't quite find enough for a standard demijohn (which would make 6 bottles). We had our first half size, food grade buckets delivered a couple of weeks ago and it was a good opportunity to try them out.
The recipe below is for the standard demijohn/bucket volume to make 6 bottles of elderflower wine. If you want to make a small batch like I have, simply halve all the ingredients.
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Elderflower Wine Recipe
This recipe makes 4.5 litres (6 bottles) of Elderflower Wine. If you wish to make a small batch, simply halve the ingredients.
600ml/1 pint of elderflowers. This is the quantity you need once the stems are removed which I find, in practice, to be around 25-30 heads.
4.5 Litres/1 gallon of cold water (we usually used bottled water. If you know your water doesn't have lots of chlorine in it which could affect the yeast, you can use tap. Not sure? Boil your tap water and let it cool to room temperature).
1-2 Campden tablets
1.1kg/2.5lbs granulated sugar - the standard sugar in your kitchen is fine for this
Up to half a sachet of White Wine Yeast (a whole sachet typically treats 25 litres of wine, hence you don't need it all)
1 teaspoon Yeast Nutrient
5ml/1 tsp Wine Tannin
1. Ensure all your equipment is sterilised using your steriliser of choice (or that included in your starter kit), following the instructions on the label.
2. Having removed as many of the green stems as you can from the elderflowers, put the flowers in a 5 litre bucket.
2. Wash the lemons and peel off the rind from them into the bucket with the flowers (I find it easiest to use a potato peeler for this).
3. Boil the water and pour it over the flowers and lemon in the bucket.
4. Cover loosely with a lid or clean tea towel and leave to cool.
5. Crush a campden tablet and add it to the mix. Leave to infuse for 2-3 days, stirring daily.
6. Strain off the liquid through muslin or a straining bag into a second clean, sterilised, 5 litre bucket.
7. Add the juice of the lemons and the sugar. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
8. Add the yeast, yeast nutrient and tannin. Stir well.
9. Cover loosely with the lid or clean tea towel and leave to ferment initially for 4-5 days.
10. Strain the liquid again through muslin or a straining bag back into the first bucket which has been cleaned and sterilised, or a clean, sterile demijohn if you prefer.
11. Fit an airlock half filled with water and allow the wine to ferment out completely.
12. If the wine looks completely clear and fermentation has stopped, you can choose to add another crushed campden tablet at this stage to be certain no further fermentation happens. We choose to leave the wine for a few weeks after fermentation has stopped and the wine is clear rather than add the campden. It is down to personal choice, but make sure fermentation has totally stopped to avoid exploding bottles.
13. Syphon into sterile wine bottles, leaving any sediment behind. To do this, place your bucket/demijohn higher than the bottles. Use the Syphon to transfer the wine, taking care not to disturb the sediment and try to avoid transferring any debris. The less sediment you pick up, the clearer the end result will be.
13. Leave to mature for 6-9 months before drinking.
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Recommended Books about Making Wine at Home
First Steps in Winemaking - CJJ Berry (a classic!)
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