The Cottage Smallholder

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Angela’s recipe for elderflower champagne

photo of elderflowers and leaves

elderflowers and leaves

Elderflower champagne is easy to make. There are thousands of recipes for this summer drink so how were we going to find a really good one?

I had a sniff about on the Internet and chose High Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe which you can see here. I wanted another recipe to compare it with so I decided to try Angela’s recipe which she posted in the comments on my recent roundup of elderflower recipes.

Although the bottles of champagne have only been standing for a few days I couldn’t resist sampling the two batches. Angela’s recipe won hands down, sorry Hugh! With immense anticipation, I took a couple of glasses up to The Rat Room for Danny to undertake a blind tasting.
“This is the winner for me. It has a wonderful bouquet and rounder flavour.”
It was Angela’s champagne that he was sampling. I can’t wait to taste it in ten days time, when it will be even better.

Angela has generously allowed me to share her wonderful recipe with you. Elderflowers are still blooming well around here so you might have the chance to make some yourself this summer. Bob Quail, another reader, mentioned that you can freeze elderflowers to make cordial or champagne later in the year.

The longer that you leave the champagne the drier and more alcoholic it will become. Weh hey!

Remember to only pick flowers with snowy white petals – brown petals can ruin elderflower recipes.

Angela’s recipe for elderflower champagne
Prep time: 20 mins
Total time: 20 mins

1. Pick the Elderflowers before 11 am, very important !!!!! After 11 am the scent is faintly….. eau de cat pee

2. Use plastic bottles, when you decant, preferably ones that have contained fizzy drinks, as they are well used to ‘gas’ inside them, and will not explode.

3.Stir the mixture 3 times a day, at least

4. After 3 or 4 days, or even 5 or 6, depending on the weather, you will see and hear fizz on top of the mixture !! Now bottle. Do not bottle before this, or your efforts will all have been futile!

5. LEAVE A SPACE at the top, of the bottle, for air. Good Luck……… and don’t forget to ‘Ask’ your Elder Flower Tree permission to take her flowers !!!!

  • 10 Elderflower heads ( side plate size)-I didn’t bother to remove the stalks
  • 5 litres Spring or Well Water
  • Juice of half Lemon
  • 125 mls Cider Vinegar
  • 600 g Sugar – I used white granulated sugar
  • you may need a tiny pinch of dried bread yeast
  1. This is what I did
  2. Fill a giant nonreactive saucepan with 5 litres of cold tap water and leave it for 24 hrs get rid of the chlorine. Or boil the water to get rid of the chlorine.
  3. Heat two litres of the water and add the sugar – stir until it’s dissolved
  4. Add the rest of the water and leave to cool until barely warm
  5. Add the elderflower heads, lemon juice, cider vinegar and cover the saucepan with a clean tea towel to keep out the flies
  6. Stir several times a day.
  7. On day six there didn’t seem to be much fermentation going on so I added a small pinch of dry bread yeast. Thinks were bubbling on day 7 so I bottled the champagne in plastic PET fizzy water bottles leaving a 3 inches (6 cm) space at the top.
  8. Every morning and evening release the build up of gas from the bottles.
  9. Leave for at least two weeks. Then chill and serve.


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  1. The Pickled Ormer

    Thanks for this recipe. I’d never made Elderflower Champagne before but found this really easy and with excellent results (I added bread yeast after day 4 on first batch and Sparkling Wine yeast on day 2 for 2nd batch). Maybe next time I’ll have the patience to wait a week for the natural yeasts to wake up, as Angela suggests in the comments. I’ve shared the link to this page on my blog:, I hope you don’t mind.

  2. Angela Connolly

    Hello Elaine,
    Leave your vessels open to ‘the air’ not covered with a tea-towel ( I learned this myself, trail & error) I used to cover, thinking I was doing good, keeping out dust ! Not good for fermentation?

    STIR 3 times a day, with great gusto, so the flowers swirl round & round very fast, even when you have stopped stirring !

    My first batch this year, has taken 7 days to start fizzing, and telling me it is ready…dont give up hope, it WILL fizz eventually.
    Hope this helps,

  3. Elaine

    i was unable to get any fermentation going last year despite previous successes before. A friend had the same problem and suggested a tip from Mary Berry and use 2 Campden tablets per 25 flower heads. However I make less than half that quantity she is referring to and wonder if just one tablet would be a good safeguard . Also I am unsure at what stage would be best to add it. Any ideas ?

  4. Angela Connolly

    Hello Elderflower people,
    Just for the record, i DONT add yeast to mine!
    The flowers stamens provide their own…hope this helps!

  5. Thank you both 🙂 I have just made this amazing recipe 🙂
    Is it best to leave for as long as possible… For 3 months or so… If your able 😉

  6. Angela Connolly

    Hi Fiona, I,ts Elderflower Champagne time again ! Just to let you know, that the flower heads are very abundant this year, and the heads are really large, its wonderful.
    When you printed out my recipe, I was delighted, Thankyou.
    Its slightly different to how I make it, for instance I dont add any yeast at all, the flowers have their own pollen when picked on a sunny dry day, and this is the ‘yeast’
    Also, I really do not bother , at all, to ‘let out gas’ from the bottles. I dont go near them until I want to drink,! Then I pop the bottle into the fridge for 2 hours before opening (carefully) as this drink needs to be really chilled for max taste. I have had no problem with storing and opening the bottles, only just open gently letting out a little of the ‘fizzz’ at a time,.
    Happy Elderflower picking, to you….hope this has been helpful
    Kind Regards Angela

    • Kathryn

      Much later comment. Angela, I think you’ve been a bit lucky. One bottle of elderflower CAN coat every surface, horizontal and vertical, in a kitchen. And bottle stoppers CAN penetrate a pantry ceiling. PET bottles are being made weaker and weaker so I’ve stopped using them since the every surface incident. And glass leaves shards. So personally I burp until I’m sure (from experience) it is slowing enough that the remaining gas won’t blow the bottles up. Methode champagnois I suppose. I use the freezer rather than the fridge to chill before opening for the same reason. It makes me sad when it flows all over the place instead of into my glass. I’ve maybe been making it longer than you – best part of 70 years – so I’ve had more time to have accidents. I think the pinch of yeast must have come from River Cottage – maybe they keep a restaurant kitchen so clean they kill the wild yeasts. Like you, I’ve never had a failure to ferment just letting the flowers do their own thing. I thinly slice two unwaxed lemons and throw those in rather than using juice. Maybe I’ve been lucky because mine has always been fermenting nicely at the end of two days. I’m glad to see you don’t use too much sugar – I wonder if that’s why some need to add yeast? Some recipes have so much sugar it must kill the wild yeast and need a commercial one. Maybe they want a more alcoholic end product. We like to drink lots of it so it’s good not to have it too alcoholic. We drink it from ten days on and try to make enough to keep us going until the next crop. Just drank the last of a crate of 2018 that got lost at the back of the barn, it was pretty good. Had enough flowers for the first batch of 2020 three days ago and bottled it yesterday so we’ll be drinking it this day week. We use French swing top lemonade bottles – stronger than a lot of the ones you buy as bottles and often cheaper if you watch for special offers in the supermarkets

  7. Lya Haveman

    You say: “Every morning and evening release the build up of gas from the bottles; leave for at least 2 weeks”
    Do you release the gas for the whole 2 weeks?
    I am keen to try this one! 🙂

  8. Raenbow

    Great recipe and te same as mine ( again without the vinegar, will try that too)Take care with the yeast and don’t be too quick to add, last years batch ( which I was impatient to get fizzing and therefore tasting!) Was a little TOO gassy!! I still have to release the gas once a week as the bottles get rock hard, but I only have 3 left!!(:

  9. thinking of the days

    well this is one recipe I shall definitely try….thank you ANgela and Fiona!

  10. Eric Robinson

    This is just how I make mine, except for the cider vinegar (good idea) and the added yeast. Watch the bottles swelling over the coming days. Elderflowers come earlier here in Andalucia (3000ft up in the mountains) so I’m now (droolingly) anticipating the berries for elderberry pies. One of my favourite trees is the elder. (I have to wonder how long your 5 litres will last??? Be firm).

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