Friday, 20 April 2012

Elderflower Champagne - Surette

Elder trees Sambucus nigra grow everywhere here, and where we lived in the UK, but somehow I have never got round to making elderflower champagne in late May or early June when the flowers are at their best. It looks straightforward enough, and I have found a recipe that seems simple and sensible (and doesn't require specialist brewing equipment). Perhaps this year will be the year.

The robust and thriving elder tree in our backyard when we
bought the house - a gift from a passing bird's bottom no doubt.
It does have a reputation for exploding in the bottle, so in order to prevent a shards of glass imbedded in the laundry door episode (childhood gingerbeer making memory) I think I'll put it in plastic bottles. It also has a reputation for being different every time you make it, with different trees and different years producing quite different flavours. I have been warned never to make a batch using the flowers from a single tree, as some trees produce a most unpleasant flavour.

A refreshing and delicate brew.
Meanwhile, here is one I bought earlier (above). This organic one was made by Marjolaine Munier at the Jardin de Sorciere in Brittany. Surette is the French name for elderflower champagne (sureau being the name of the tree) and the label goes on to say "Elderflower champagne, or 'fairy champagne', is a traditional fizzy drink with a sweet floral taste." She also makes frenette, from ash tree shoots, but I find it insipid.

Susan

6 comments:

chm said...

In the States they make elderberry wine. I’m wondering if the flower wine and the berry wine taste somewhat different.

I googled elderberry wine and found this link with all the supplies for wine making.
www.eckraus.com/Elderberry-Wine
You feel you’re in some kind of sophisticated laboratory. Your recipe is simple and easy enough. Good luck with it.

Wikipedia call the elderflower wine, elder blow wine.

Pollygarter said...

Susan, if you treat it like a beer and let it brew right out, then prime on bottling, you shouldn't have any explosive troubles. It also has the advantage that you can taste the brew before bottling and pour it on the veg if it is terrible.

chm, lederflower wine is a light, bubbly white and elderberry wine is a dark, rich red. Susan's rule that she follows about collecting from a variety of trees applies to the collection of both berry and flower.

Pollygarter said...

sorry chm, that should read elderflower wine [not lederflower!]

Susan said...

Thanks Tim. Is your place going to be a likely source of flowers now that our garden is cleared? I'm thinking of making some kvas too (bread beer).

Pearl said...

mm, elderflower.

Dave G @ThePastyMuncher said...

Good luck with your brew - I recommend using plastic bottles for safety. See my article here http://www.pastymuncher.co.uk/make-elderflower-champagne-a-taste-of-spring-elderflower-fizz/