When I was a child, during the summer we would often go to local farms and pick whatever fruits were in season. One for me, one for the basket, was the way my siblings and I passed the time. The visit would end with us, red-mouthed and feeling slightly sick. We would also forage, in the hedgerows of country lanes for: wild blackberries, sloes, elderflowers and later in the year, their berries.
From all this produce, my mother would conjure up jams and jellies, pies, crumbles, puddings and elderflower champagne. Whilst in the basement, my father would wizard up bottles of elderflower wine and sloe gin.
Elderflower champagne was a family tradition and made by my mother. It was exciting to us kids, because it was fizzy, contained a small amount of alcohol and we were allowed to drink it! That coupled with the fact that once made, it had to be stored in sturdy, brown glass bottles with a screw top—because it might explode. Sometimes it did and the mess was extraordinary.
Within a couple of weeks, the elderflower champagne was ready to drink and often accompanied lunch in the garden. Served in dimpled half-pint beer tankards or long drink glasses.
This summer, from the elderflower tree in my garden, I have conjured up five bottles of the wonderful elixir and am sipping on a glassful as I write.
Below another batch, this time of Elderflower cordial.