Elderflower beer; my first attempt!

About three years ago, soon after we bought the land, I also bought a chain saw; the brambles and brush were so thick that the strimmer just wasn’t up to the job. I also had big plans about clearing some of the trees to provide firewood in the future, but that’s another post in itself.

One thing we did have lots of was elderflower, most of it overgrown with wild vines, so out came the chainsaw and I did my best to clear an area round the old house to provide access to the orchard. One thing that I hadn’t anticipated was the elders survival instinct. Every one of the stumps has since coppiced and sent out multiple new trunks and now, three years on, we have more elderflower than we know what to do with.

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So what to do with all of this elder? Why not try some beer :)

Elderflower beer, a work in progress recipe based loosely on the words I found in a book at a garden centre many years ago; who knows how it will turn out!

First of all you need a hot sunny day as that’s the best time to pick the flowers, when they are fully open and dry; pick about one litre of flowers. I pick them on the stalk then use a fork to strip the flowers off.

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Six oranges, lemons or grapefruit; ideally a mix. I used two oranges and three lemons as that’s all we had.

A kilo of sugar.

Chop up your fruit and put in a pan with 4.5 litres of water, bring to the boil adding the sugar to dissolve, simmer for about half an hour and leave it to cool.

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Once cool add the flowers and leave to steep for a couple of hours then strain the mixture into your chosen receptacle to ferment. There should be enough natural yeast in the elder flowers, but you could add yeast if you wanted to be sure of fermentation. Leave to ferment at around 20c for three or four days

Once fermentation is over, bottle it up and leave in a cool dark place for three or four months.

What does it taste of? I have no idea, I’ll let you know when I crack open the first bottle :)

Or you could try this great recipe for cordial http://underthelindentree.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/time-for-elder-flowers-and-strawberries/

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14 thoughts on “Elderflower beer; my first attempt!

  1. Pingback: Loose ends | Winkos: a straw bale building adventure in Poland

  2. Elder is a good plant to have too much of! The flowers make a tasty hot tea and a good iced tea as well. They go really good in pancake batter – use lots! The berries make awesome jelly and you can make a really nice elderberry tonic with some honey and brandy. My family makes some every summer and we take it religiously through the winter to combat colds and other illnesses. It really works! I think I’ll try some beer or wine this year!

    • You are so right, it’s a very versatile plan to have around; I used to eat the fritters as a child and the cordial is popular in Poland, but have never tried the tonic; what is the recipe?

      • Step by Step Instructions
        • First, fill a quart jar almost to the top with fresh elderberries.
        • Now, pour the honey (1 cup) in slowly, stirring as necessary, until the berries are well coated.
        • Next, fill jar the rest of the way with brandy, stirring as you go, until all air bubbles are released.
        • Now cover the jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake carefully to finish the mixing process.
        • Let macerate in a cool, dark place for four to six weeks
        • Strain, reserving liquid. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

        Take a big spoonful twice a day when the cold weather hits! It’s delicious and really boosts the immune system!

  3. Never had elderflower beer but elderflower wine is lovely, retaining that lovely perfume of the flowers. I’ve made it a lot but also this, which is quick and easy, and great. Fill a champagne (or any bubbly) bottle with water. Stuff in a couple of ‘bunches’ (don’t know what to call them but the mushroom shaped head of flowers) of elder flowers. Add a tsp of sugar, tightly seal like a champagne bottle, wiring down the cork. After a few days you have a lovely bubbly; the natural yeast on the flowers does the job. But treat with care – they can go off like a bomb!

    • I’ll give that a go and store in a safe place, although looking at the flowers I only have a few days left before they are all gone. Wine next year I hope when we have more time, along with more beer if it comes out ok; this was a trail run :)

  4. We’ve just picked a fair bit of elderflower. Marta’s Mum is going to make cordial, I might ask that some is set aside for beer. I didn’t realise it was this easy. So yours should be ready around November? Something to get you through the winter!

  5. Never had it Eddy, and probably never will. Still, as long as it gets you merry, where’s the harm? At least you have enough of the main ingredient to keep you stocked up, if it does turn out to be drinkable!
    I have had Elderflower wine, many years ago. It was not unlike white wine, dry to the taste, and deceptively strong. You could always have a bash at that next! (I know, like you don’t have enough to do…)
    Regards to you and Gosia from an ‘unsettled’ Norfolk. Pete.

    • Cheers Pete, this is more of a plan for next year as it will be quite a while before I taste it. Hopefully it won’t be too bad and I’ll be one step closer to become self sufficient in alcohol, a promise I made to myself when we moved here. Last years cider is tasting good, especially the sparkling :)

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