Elderflower Champagne Recipe

elderflower champagne

Recipe for Elderflower Champagne sent in by: Granny Dumplin

Ingredients for Elderflower Champagne:

  • 50 elderflower heads  – (if you pick flowers in the morning they should smell slightly of  bananas, if picked in the afternoon/evening there will be an aroma of cats piddle! Both work, but bananas are best)
  • 6 lb bags of caster sugar
  • 11 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 50 pints of cold water
  • 11 large lemons zested and juiced

Method for Elderflower Champagne:

  1. Pick the elderflowers when fully out and shake to remove insects.
  2. Place the flowers in a cloth bag,
  3. Seal it and put it into the water with the sugar, vinegar, juice and zest from the lemons. (use plastic buckets)
  4. Mix well, cover and stand for 72 hours.
  5. Remove bag of flowers & strain into bottles (use screw top bottles) and leave in cool larder for 2 weeks, releasing the fizz every couple of days or the bottles will burst.
  6. Serve very chilled.


Note 1: You can halve all ingredients to make less.

Note 2: To make cordial use some or all of the mixture before bottling and add an equal amount of sugar, boil till reduced by half.

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99 comments on “Elderflower Champagne Recipe
  1. Neil says:

    Hi, I live in London and am keen on making some Elderflower Champagne.

    I went over to my local park today and collected quite a few flower heads.

    I have read on other websites that you shouldn’t pick flowers from the roadside as they will be polluted, but everywhere in London is by a road side!!!

    Does anyone know if I could rinse them and still use them? Or if they would be ok to use anyway?

    Thanks for your help,

  2. John says:

    The concern used to be the lead in petrol but nowadays that’s hardly a problem compared with 30 years ago. Now we have diesel particulates which are larger and you should be OK washing them off.
    Of course, to some degree it depends what you mean by busy. If you’re next to the North Circular then I’d give it a miss.
    To be safe you’d need a lab analysis, but I’d just use my common sense. Do they smell of elder or traffic, being the clincher.

  3. Neil says:

    Thanks for your reply.

    They smell of elder, no fuel smell. I’m out in East London/Essex(Dagenham), and the majority were picked quite far into the park (at least 100yds from a road) although a couple of them were close to the road. It is a residential road but has a pretty constant run of cars.

  4. mhairi says:

    I have just seen Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall making elderflower champagne and noticed he used boiling water. would this make any difference to the brew?

  5. John says:

    mhairi – Can’t say really, not having tried it that way but I doubt our Hugh would give bad advice. There’s often more than one way to do things.

  6. Neil says:

    The reason for using hot water is that it is steralised of most bacteria. The more tap water that you use (Some tap water is worse than others), the more bacteria goes into your wine/beer etc. It won’t harm but can leave a nasty taste.

    I have read recently that elderflower stems and leaves are poisonous. I have a batch of Elderflower Champagne that is near completion, but when I put my elderflowers into the brew they had an inch or so of stem on them. Do you know if that is going to make my brew poisonous?


  7. Val says:

    Elder leaves and bark, especially in some varieties, contain a cocktail of chemicals including cyanides that can make you pretty sick. It would have been better if you’d completely removed the flowers from the stems.

  8. Billy says:

    My week old elderflower champagne has began to mould and the smell is quite intense and over powering at times. I think the problem could be that some of the elderflower bits were left in and some still remain. The champagne is fizzing which I heard is a good sign but i’m concerned that my champagne will need to be chucked away due to the mould, there was not a great deal but it is off putting and I have removed while I search for a solution. The champagne is being kept in a 20 litre bucket and covered by an old t-shirt and secured with some rope to preven insects getting in. Is my champagne a write off?

  9. Val says:

    I don’t know that I would trust it. How long has it been in the bucket? After three days it’s better to strain it and pour into sterile bottles – releasing the top every couple of days to stop them bursting.

  10. Ewan says:


    I made Elderflower Champagne according to River Cottage Bloke’s Recipe only I added a few handfulls of wild rose petals as well.

    I only left it to ferment in a bucket for 2 days and there was only a little foam when I bottled it a month ago. Now its all cloudy and full of pale yellow gunk sitting at the bottom and floating around in clumps and tiny cob-web strands.

    I opened a bottle and it was really fizzy.
    I sniffed it and it smelled wonderful.
    I dipped my finger into it and it seamed OK.
    I took a sip and it tastes great.

    The yellow stuff could be yeast, is it yeast and is it safe to drink?


  11. John says:

    Ewan – I don’t think I’d fancy it with yellow gunk floating around.

  12. Paul says:

    Hi I am making some champagne at the moment but did not put the elderflowers in a bag and left them floating like hugh. There is a bit of wispy white mould starting to grow over the top of the floating elderflowers after 3 days, is this normal?

  13. Val says:

    I don’t know – try asking Hugh

  14. Doyle bee says:

    Made 14 bottles of elderberry wine add some grape juice to the batch and Iron Bark honey (Mead)in march o7. Made 8 bottles into Champagne by adding 24grm of sugar per lit, fitted crown seals and place them in a rack at a 45degree angle. One bottle leak out of the crown seal after 6 months,so I drank it 2 nights ago I was blowm away with it blooming wonderful colour clear nose was sweet as the morning dew.The next day I went to my bee site and took off some honey.Thank the Lord they were in flower so I picked 2 big of flower heads and have them soaking in boiling sugar water,I am gowing to make 60liters of wine with half sugar Iron Bark honey.I enter the Royal Sydney easter show and won 1st in sweet mead and 1st and 2nd in dry mead.

  15. laura says:

    Wan t to make cordial but not sure what you mean by add equal amounts of sugar. equal to what? the volume?


  16. sam says:

    no probs with the yellow bits, thats just ley’s (old yeast and stuff) left over from the brewing process. if you really want get rid of it.

    up turn the bottles and freeze the necks (in a bucket of ice water or with co2) then open and remove the sediment which has collected in the upturned neck (the ice plug) as for real champagne.

    i’d just drink it though, cos thats a real faf!

  17. sam says:

    has any one any experience of keeping there elderflower champ’s for a while like 8 weeks?

  18. pauline says:

    i have been making elderflower champagne for years, and am still alive and healthy having drunk it when cloudy, lumpy and or wispy, if it looks suspect i stain the bits out, i always use cooled boiled water and never add yeast. i have been led to believe that if the flowers are picked after a sunny day they have enough natural yeast, but that adding the flowers to boiling water would kill the yeast.

  19. Val says:

    Yes, that’s right. Equal amount of sugar to the volume.

  20. Mart says:

    In response to Sam.

    My parents made elderflower champagne when I was a kid (20+ years ago) Im unsure of the exact method/recipe they followed but they were quite proficient home brewers… anyway, my point. After the initial fermentation we tasted the brew and to be honest.. it was ghastly (maybe inexperienced taste buds) but after many exploded bottles and further tasting, we found it improved massively with age. The last bottle was drunk about 18 months after bottling, so I wouldnt worry about 8 weeks… infact, I’d be tempted to lay a bottle or two down for a year. =) …..Im off picking tomorrow!!!!

  21. vicky says:

    I kept mine in the bucket for 5 weeks last year, skimmed the mould of the top and syphoned off into champagne bottles, drank the last bottle two weeks ago(1 year old) it was lovely, and quite alcoholic. I made with the water still quite warm. Have done the same this year, its brewing!

  22. Dave says:

    Hi, firstly thanks for posting the recipe!

    I followed the process and got it brewing on Friday last week. By Sunday there was no sign of fermentation so I popped to my local brew shop, explained what I was doing and he advised me to use a sachet of champagne yeast. Having done a little research now i’m wondering if I maybe should have gone for a lower strength yeast as I understand the champers is going to give a higher alohol content, oh well!

    Also, i’m wondering if its possible to use coffee filter paper to strain the brew when I bottle it? Does anyone know if this will be detrimental at all?

  23. GARY says:

    Can Anyone help ive made some elderflower champaine as per instructions left it 24 hrs and bottled and left for 2 weeks and has come out thick and will a small amount of fizz very pleaseant taste but heavy why is this does it get lighter more fizz after a long time bottled?

  24. Rosco says:

    Hi Gary
    I had a very sililar prob.. followed river cottage recepie (its now been ammended to use less sugar) and mine is quite thick (almost jelly like in consistency) but mines very fizzy.. did you get any good advise

  25. Richard says:


    I have made elderflower champagne for the first time! We have followed the recipe as above (using approx a quarter of the ingredients), however, very little seems to be happening after 2 days in a bucket, is this supposed to be the process or is it supposed to be showing some signs of life? Richard

  26. Mel says:

    Hi i have made some elderflower champagne about 2 weeks ago & after many spillages last year & corks blowing i have decided to put the champagne into 2 demi johns with air lock corked tops on them.
    I am new to this & i thought this might be a way to get around the spillages & corks blowing off etc.The thing is does anyone know if i will have enough fizz in the champagne by using the air lock filter thing?I am struggling to find normal demi john corks or any grolsh type bottles & tops as i didnt really want to order bottles from the internet.Any advice please?

  27. GARY says:

    hi yes leave it longer i had my 1st bottle this year at the weekend and it was ok chilled but still could do with a few more months

  28. Sam says:

    With regard to bottles…tap up local pub/restuarants for their empty champagne bottles (I just scored 20 in ine hit after a wedding!!) then just but corks and wire cages from brewing supplier…classy bottles for classy drink and free!!

  29. Don Campbell says:

    When the bubbles have nearly stopped coming through the trap just bottle and add half a teaspoonful of sugar to each,and cork, shake the bottles and leave.It takes about ten days for the bottles to finish and with this amount of sugar , or just a little less, there is no danger of explosions.
    I make beer this way and use Guinness bottles and Crown Corks–Easy

  30. jamie davies says:

    hi just made my first batch 2 days ago, i want a fairly good alcohol base in my champers so im leaving it in the bucket for at least a week, im gonna bottle in newcastle brown bottles anyone had experience with these? and do they explode? an what about bulmers cider bottles?

  31. Mark says:

    I find some of the comments above a little disturbing. Please don’t listen to the river cottage man, what he is making is not elderflower champagne, it’s home made explosives using glass bottles!! I’d be very worried about using this method, also the result won’t be as good as it could be.
    The idea behind elderflower champagne is that you use elderflowers and lemons to flavour a sugar wine. When you mix sugar and yeast in water the yeast will “eat” the sugar, reproduce and make more of itself (this is the mould/cloudyness/sediment in your brew) and turn it into two things 1) alcohol and 2) carbon dioxide. This will happen in the bucket AND in the bottles when you transfer the liquid, that’s why they tell u to let the gas out every day… But what if u forget for a few days? the gas will have built up and you have a cupboard full of exploding glass for your 5 year old to play with!!! Thanks Hugh!!!

    As an experienced brewer let me ammend the recipe a little…

    I’d rather not rely on wild yeast, you don’t know what you’re gonna get on if flowers, I would add a sachet of brewing yeast (or even fast acting dried bread yeast)
    Instead of transfering the wine to bottles after a few days leave It for about 10 days and let most of the sugar turn to alcohol and co2. The foam will go away and the wine will start to clear slightly.
    Then when you bottle it add a teaspoon of sugar, this way, you know that there is enough sugar in the wine to make it really fizzy but not so much that you need to worry about shards of glass in young children faces.

    If you do it this way your brew will also be clearer and with only a very small amount of gross sediment in the bottle.

  32. Mark says:

    Oh and one other thing to clear things up.

    The amount of alcohol in the win. Depends on how much sugar you put in.
    The yeast will turn ALL of the sugar to alcohol over time no matter where you keep it (bucket or bottles)
    2.5kg of sugar in 25 liters will produce a final alcohol of about 6% (similar to a strong beer) you want it stronger? Add more sugar! Weaker? Then leave some sugar out.
    I warn u tho, the more alcohol you make the more harsh the taste will be, if u go much above 10% it will need to be stored for a while to mellow (maybe a year)

  33. Kate says:

    ok….so i have done a half recipe for this and left it for 72 hours…..and it is now covered with a white fuzz…..it dosent smell anything like yeast or looks remotely pleasing…..

    where did i go wrong??????

  34. manna says:

    hi, mark – your replies seem really clear. can I ask you for a definitive recipe for elderflower champagne, based on your advice re: yeast / adding sugar at the end. I have laboriously cleaned and sterilised 24 magners cider bottles and invested in a crown capper and 100 caps, so really want to cap it if possible, but obviously not if you think there’s a chance it will explode? thanks

  35. Gemma says:

    HI, My Dad reckons its rope bacteria, its harmless but a bit yucky!! It often is in the cider we make. You can get tablets to get rid of it in the chemist, can’t remember the name, will find out. G

  36. michael rennie says:

    If you can leave for 10 days or so, as I only left it 5 day and I just had a glass bottle explode and dont forget to release the fizz every few days for the 1st two weeks. Mine has gone really well tho.

  37. Janine says:

    Hi – have never brewed before and having read forums am now very concerned about trying elderflower champagne. Was going to try HFW receipe but doesn’t sound as if it’s very good so will use one above. I have purchased brown glass swing top bottles. Any advice?

  38. les says:

    Hey guys, have made some champagne following the recipe above, which is now in the fermenting bin waiting to be bottled. There are lots of conflicting views on how long to leave the champagne in the bin for, is 72 hrs too long, many others I’ve read suggest 24 hrs, any ideas which is best?
    I will be using screw top fizzy drinks bottles to contain the champagne but am fairly worried about explosions!! How long do you have to “babysit” the champagne before it can be left on its own without risking a loud, sticky mess? I am planning to release the fizz at least once a day and will probably check the bottle two or three times a day for the first two weeks. Should this prevent explosions? Any other tips on how to avoid explosions would be much appreciated!!!

    cheers les

  39. Sarah says:

    I made some elderflower champagne years ago, we bottled it in wine bottles and had a contraption to force used corks back in to the bottles….they went in half way maybe. Don’t remember any details about recipe, I know we didn’t let any fizz out but the great thing was that although there were a few explosions, there was no broken glass because the corks were able to shoot back out.

  40. michael says:

    Mel I find the best bottles to use are the clear 0.75 ltr bottles with the wire tops just like grolch bottle tops, you will find them in most good home brew shops and only cost about £1 somthing each and always reuseable and never had any probs with exploding. Also I tried in one batch some clearing gel it comes in 2 packets use the 1st one and stir and leave for an hour then add 2nd one and stir and leave for an hour till it settles and becomes clear then bottle… result clear champagne. This method is mainly used on wines but thought I’d give it a try on the last few bottles left and I must say it worked.

  41. bobbie john stringer says:

    I bottled my first batch of elderflower champagne yesterday and I have my second batch in now. everything went ok so far. The bottles are fizzing and I am letting the gas out gently and the sediment is clearing up each time I do. The only thing I have amended on my second batch is putting in the pith of the lemon and only putting in the zest and juice of the lemons, hopefully this will make it sweeter than bitter (thou I quite like the taste of bitter lemon) . My only real concern is that the gas smells a bit eggy? Is this just the yeast, is this normal?? It all tastes good but I am thinking the smell could put off my friends when it is ready. Please can anyone help me on this matter, advice will be much appreciated as I want to make as much as possible before the season ends and want it to be right.

  42. Elaine says:

    I have the Collins ‘Food for Free’ book which has a recipe for Elderflower cordial and it says that you should “never wash the flower heads as this will remove much of the fragrence”. I’m assuming this is the same for champagne. I’ve made about 40 litres of cordial from this recipe and it’s always been really great:
    1 lemon – grate rind and slice fruit
    25g citric acid
    1kg sugar
    10 elderflower heads
    750ml boiling water

  43. Si says:

    Well!!! a little confused now!!
    All sunny yesterday afternoon, so off we went into the wheat fields to gather 250 elder flower heads. We came back and put 9.5 kg of sugar into a brand new 80 litre cleaned dustbin. Then in went 27 tablespoons of w/w vinegar and 54 litres of hot water. 13 little pinches of yeast and 52 washed lemons, zested then painfully squeezed.
    The flowers went in at some point too! We looked for a stirring tool and found that a washed arm worked quite well, and after all the sugar was dissolved we discovered that it was quite therapeutic to swirl the flower heads around in a whirlpool. The scent was awesome and we sieved half a glass full to try…….. ooo mmmmm absolutely lovely. So we now have an 80 litre bin full of preparation and it’s been going for 12 hours or so.

    I just took the lid off… all brown on top. I washed the old arm and in we went, stirred it all up and it now looks ok again, smells great, now off to work. Will return tonight to assess and hopefully have more info by some caring poster……….(worried about bottling)

  44. Jane says:

    Hi all, Have read through all of your comments and not seen one mention of my problem. I made elderflower fizz last year to Hugh’s recipe and was successful in so much as it had bubbles. Unfortunately though when I tried it, although the initial taste was of elderflower, there was the tart aftertaste of what felt like the white wine vinegar which ruined it for me. Is this the way it should taste and is there a way I can make it without the vinegar? Thanks!

  45. I just opened a bottle of elderflower ” cordial ” of last year , it is ” cloudy” at the bottom but I strain it again when I use it & I am still here ??
    Sometimes if you are really not sure then ” don’t” but if it smells wonderfull then it’s O K .
    It seems yonks ago I didn’t use enough sugar & it didn’t ” keep”!!

  46. Hi Elaine, Your recipe is ( I think ) exactly right! RE other comments I tried white wine vinager & much prefer citric acid or Tartaric acid ( from the Chemist or Stores who sell wine making kit. ) I also slice an orange or two
    along with a couple of lemons
    Oh how I love the smell & taste of Elderflower Cordial!!

  47. marcia says:

    Hi Mel, That sounds like a great idea putting them into demijohns first, I will be doing that and my advice is to use the same process you would use for sparkling wine. You can get plastic champagne corks and wire cages from brew shops or internet and you can get champagne bottles from there also or raid the recycling bins lol. Ferment until sugar content is 1010 or below no higher or the bottles may burst. Then syphon into champagne bottles and leave for at least 3 months and bingo you have wonderful elderflower champagne.

  48. Bernie says:

    Why no Champagne yeast? what alcohol content should I expect?

  49. lucia says:

    how do you make elderflower champagne more alcoholic?

  50. Annabel says:

    I have used golden caster sugar in my champagne as opposed to the white variety. Is this going to effect the process or the taste?

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