Monday, July 16, 2012
Ten Green Bottles
"What have you got there?" I asked.
"Elderflowers" she replied.
I sighed. She'd pilfered my stash.
Her husband who runs a restaurant makes elderflower jelly. This is what comes of living in a town with enterprising foragers; don't dally when it comes to harvesting your wild foods.
We were left with some really amazing big bunches of white flowers....right at the top of the trees. The next morning my husband and I and the loppers went out on a mission. Half an hour later I was balanced on his shoulders with loppers fully extended risking my life to reach the best blooms. I really don't like heights and in 20 years together I have never sat on my husband's shoulders so this just demonstrates the lengths I will go to to when I've put my mind to something.
Once you've nearly broken your neck getting hold of the flowers the actual making of the champagne is dead easy. I roughly followed a recipe, chucking the flowers, some cut up lemons, some sugar (and icing sugar because I didn't have enough granulated) and a little apple cider vinegar into a sterilised bucket then filling it up with water. I left it in a cool part of the house for a couple of days with a tea towel and piece of cardboard on top.
The next bit was a faff and a half. I had my plastic bottles lined up in the bath to sterilise them with sterilising fluid. I had a big jug of cooled boiled water to rinse them out afterwards. I scooped out all the lemons and flowers I could from the bucket. Then I filled a glass jug with the cloudy liquid and poured it through a tea towel (that had been rinsed in boiling water) into another bowl. This was to filter out any little bits that were left. I then poured this through a funnel into my bottles. When I had finished I left the bottles sitting out next to the washing machine with the tops just resting on them. I had read that it was a way of preventing the pressure from the gas building up and blasting them off. There was a whole thread of horror stories of broken glass and sticky liquid coating walls on the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall site. I was glad I decided to use plastic bottles. I told my husband about the loose-topped bottles. A couple of days later I came home to find him mopping up an inch of liquid from the floor next to the washing machine. There is something a little upside down about a wife being furious with her husband because he's spilled her home brew while putting a washing on. How times have changed. It's a wonder any of us can keep up.