June 21, 2013

Elderflower wine

This is my recipe for Elderflower wine, I have made wine this way for the last 15 years and it always works well.  There are loads of flowers this year, it’s a bumper year!

Elder.  Sambucus nigra Be sure of your identification!!
Elder. Sambucus nigra
Be sure of your identification!!

I have explained the process in detail for any of you that have not made wine before, you can also scale it up and it still works perfectly. Find elder growing in hedgerows, on disused railway lines, on waste ground – it is a tree that can be found in the countryside and in urban places, so is great for everyone.

You will need 2 wine making buckets with a 1 gallon mark on and a lid, 2 x clear gallon demijohns, a large funnel, a jelly bag or sheet of muslin, bungs and airlocks to fit the demijohns, siphon tubing and 6 wine bottles – either with good lids or buy corks and a corking device. You will also need chemical sterilizer available at wine making supplier.

Makes 6 Bottles

  • 1 pint of elderflowers
  • 3 lemons – grated rind and juice (keep the juice in the fridge until day 5)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2.5lb sugar
  • 2 campden tablets
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 1tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1tsp tannin
  • 1tsp potassium sorbate (or stabilising tablet)
  • Finings (as per packet instructions)

foraging walk

Day 1. Pick Elderflowers that are fragrant and at their peak, not either in bud or dropping petals. Put them into the wine bucket with the grated rind of the lemons. Boil the water and pour it over the flowers and lemon rind. Cover loosely and leave to cool. When cool add a crushed campden tablet and stir.

Days 2, 3 & 4. Stir twice a day, each day with a sterile spoon (I pour boiling water from the kettle over my plastic spoon and it is fine)

Day 5. Sterilise the mesh bag, plastic spoon and 2nd bucket, then rinse. Strain the liquid through the fine mesh bag into the bucket. Add the lemon juice and sugar and stir until dissolved with the sterile spoon. Then add the yeast, yeast nutrient and tannin, and stir. Cover loosely.

Days 6, 7, 8 & 9, Leave to ferment. Try to keep the wine at about 20 degrees C.

Day 10. Sterilise your demijohn, mesh bag, funnel, bung and airlock and spoon if using. Strain the wine through the mesh bag into the demijohn using the funnel. Fit the bung and airlock. (put boiled water in the airlock) Again keep the temperature as close to 20oC as poss. Leave for approx 15 days until the wine stops fermenting.

Day 25. Sterilise your other demijohn, airlock and bung, and the siphon tubing. Siphon the wine into the clean demijohn leaving the sediment behind. Add 1 crushed campden tablet and 1 tsp Potassium Sorbate to the wine, and swish it around to remove gas. Then add the finings as per the packet instructions (probably 2 tsps) Put a clean airlock and bung on the demijohn and leave it to clear. Put the wine in a place now where it can settle out and won’t get knocked or moved  – you will need to be able to get to it later to siphon it out.

Day 50 – approx. Your wine should be clear as a bell. Now sterilize your bottles and siphon tubing and carefully fill the bottles without disturbing the sediment in the bottom of the demijohn. This is best done by 2 people one filling bottles and one making sure the tube doesn’t pick up sediment. Cork or cap your bottles I sterilise mine by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes

…You can drink it straight away but it improves with keeping.

elderflower med size

4 responses to “Elderflower wine

  1. My wine stopped bubbling after 1 week in demijohn. I syphoned into another demijohn yesterday to leave sediment and it bubbled slowly for an hour & stopped again. Is there something wrong with my wine?

  2. Sounds fantastic – but could you clarify what you mean by ‘a pint of elderflowers’ please? Do I take the stalks off or leave them on, do I crush them down to measure them? Sorry, if I sound a bit dim but I really want to try this but don’t want to get it wrong! Many thanks, Vanessa

    1. Hi Vanessa
      No problem, it is a good question. I guess when you have been making stuff for a long you take what you are doing for granted. When we reread the post it is not very clear so thanks for pointing it out.
      We harvest the whole flower head and then remove the individual flowers, making sure there is as little green stem as possible attached to then (a few green bits are fine). We then loosely pack the flowers into the measuring jug, not compressing them but making sure there are no big gaps. This is how we measure the pint of flowers. Hope this helps.

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