How to Make the Best Elderflower Champagne: A Simple Recipe

Updated on June 9, 2019
chef-de-jour profile image

Andrew has many years experience cooking and enjoys creating unusual meals in the kitchen.

Fresh elderflower champagne.
Fresh elderflower champagne.

Elderflower Makes Unique and Delicious Drinks

Everything you need to know about making elderflower drinks is in this article. You'll find:

  • Recipes for an alcoholic elderflower champagne and an alcohol-free cordial
  • Safety instructions and useful tips
  • Information and must-know facts about fermentation
  • A video on how to make elderberry wine

All of these drinks have that unique and delicious elderflower flavour. Enjoy!

About the Recipe

Making a delicious champagne or nonalcoholic cordial from elderflowers is very easy. The creamy, lemony-sweet-smelling flower heads can be easily identified and it doesn't take much time to pick a few, plop them in water, add a few basic ingredients and bottle their essence!

  • Timeline: You should be able to produce a vintage product within 7 to 10 days.
  • Yield: This recipe makes roughly eight one-litre bottles. If you don't fancy the bubbly stuff, you can also make a smooth cordial, just as flavoursome but nonalcoholic.


  • 10 large elderflower heads, stalk-free and clean
  • 8 litres warm water, to dissolve the sugar
  • 5 lemons
  • 1 kilogram white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • pinch yeast
Picking clean elder flowers.
Picking clean elder flowers.

How to Pick Elderflowers

People out under a blue sky in the English countryside picking elder blossoms. What could be a more idyllic scene?

It sounds charming and it's a fun thing to do, but there are common-sense things to think about so once you've managed to find a dry, sunny day (yes we do have them in the UK, about eight times a year), you'll need a basket or bag to collect the flowers.

If you don't know what an elder tree looks like, check out the Sambucas nigra box below, and the photos should help you identify the right tree.

You'll need about ten heads for this recipe, that's all. Remember:

  • Choose a mature tree away from the road so that the flowers are pollution-free
  • Pick flower heads that look fresh and are not discoloured or half-eaten
  • Shake them to get rid of insects and bugs
  • Try not to decimate the tree by picking too many flower heads
  • Don't disturb nesting birds
  • Watch out for bees and wasps!

Elderflower blossoms.
Elderflower blossoms.


  1. Pour 8 litres of warm water into an exceptionally clean large pot or container.
  2. Add 1 kilogram of white sugar and stir in until dissolved.
  3. Add zest of 5 lemons then cut in half, squeeze and juice. Add the juice and lemon halves.
  4. Add 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.
  5. Add the 10 flower heads then gently stir the whole pot for a couple of minutes until mixed.
  6. Cover with clean muslin or towel and leave to ferment in a safe, cool space. After 24 hours, check for telltale signs of fermentation: bubbles and foam activity. Stir each day to encourage activity. Add a pinch of yeast if necessary. Don't forget to remove the flowers after 1 to 2 days!
  7. Leave safe to ferment further for 4 to 5 days then sieve and decant into strong sterilized glass bottles. As the fermentation continues, release excess pressure in the bottles by turning the screw top every so often.
  8. After one week, you should have your champagne. Serve chilled from an ice bucket.
  9. Please read through the useful tips below for more advice and information.
Gently stir the champagne mixture: lemons, flowers, sugar, white wine vinegar.
Gently stir the champagne mixture: lemons, flowers, sugar, white wine vinegar.
Cover with clean towel or muslin cloth and leave to ferment.
Cover with clean towel or muslin cloth and leave to ferment.

Tips For The Best Elderflower Champagne

  • Use special brewer's tablets (I used Campden's) to clear murky champagne: You'll have to follow instructions for tablet use.
  • Chilling the bottles well before serving and opening slowly keeps the fizz active.
  • If you use a hydrometer to check the specific gravity, make sure it reaches 1010 before bottling.
  • Sterilize bottles at 75 degrees. Clean thoroughly then pop in oven.
  • Move your champagne mix to a warmer space if there is no fermentation. Add a pinch of yeast.
  • To slow fermentation down, put bottles in fridge.
  • If fermentation stops add extra yeast (champagne yeast is best).
  • Use one or two more flower heads for extra flavour. But be prepared for more fizz during fermentation.
  • Use 6 -7 litres of water for stronger flavour.
  • Use dextrose sugar instead of white sugar and a brewer's barrel instead of a pot.
  • The longer you leave the bottles, the less sweet the brew will be, as sugar turns to alcohol and the champagne becomes 'dry'.
  • Pick the flowers in full sun for best results.
  • Alcohol content should be around 3-5% for your champagne.
  • Should your ferment turn vinegary (which means the alcohol has oxidised), you have made a type of wine vinegar! It could be used for dressings if the taste is good. If your bottles weren't sterilised properly this could also turn it vinegary.
  • Use a fork to remove the elderflowers from your container, or strain through mesh.

All bottled up using a filter funnel and a variety of bottle.
All bottled up using a filter funnel and a variety of bottle.

Safety Tips

Fermentation produces a build-up of bubbles as the yeasts break down the sugars. By following these safety tips you should be able to produce a great drink and stay safe!

  • Leave an expansion gap at top of bottle when decanting your brew.
  • Keep the bottles safely stored in a well-aired, locked shed or space.
  • Put the bottles in bags and then in cardboard or wooden boxes.
  • Check daily or twice daily for pressure: release screw top slightly if pressure is high and the bottles 'tight,' aka 'burping the bottles'.
  • Do not let children or pets near the bottles.

Elderflower Cordial

Cordial is made in much the same way except there is no yeast involved and therefore, in theory, no alcohol present in the end result!


  • 8 litres boiling water
  • 10 elderflower heads
  • 5 lemons or oranges
  • white wine vinegar
  • 1 kilogram white sugar


  1. Clean the flower heads in water, and place in the pot with the sugar and lemons/oranges and vinegar.
  2. Pour boiling water into pot, stir until mixed, then cover securely and place in a cool safe space. Give the mixture 1 day for fusion.
  3. Strain and pour into sterilized bottles then chill.
  4. Enjoy with sparkling water, ice, lemon and fruits!

About Elder Trees

Sambuca nigra: Elder trees are common all over Europe and will grow happily by the roadside, in a hedgerow, on wasteland, or on the edge of a wood. You can test to make sure you've got the right tree by taking a leaf, crushing it and smelling the strong savoury/smoky odour. The flowers have a sweet honey-like scent bordering on the fruity. In September and October, you'll see the large bunches of dark elderberries weighing the tree down as the season progresses. From these comes the rich juice, said to be medicinal.

Make Elderberry Wine

© 2012 Andrew Spacey


Submit a Comment
  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    5 days ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    OK good luck. Please comment on your final results... and the pros and cons of production in the comments section. Although a simple process each little operation has to be carried out just right! There are ways of rescuing the champagne should you run into difficulties.

  • profile image

    Tim dillinger 

    5 days ago

    Mine is pink

    I think I might have added a little too much yeast, as it smells and tastes a little yeasty

    Just bottling now, I’ll let you know

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    6 days ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    If the seals can be removed boil in water for 2-3 minutes. Bottles washed in soapy water, rinsed and put in oven 275F/130C for 15m.

    You can also boil them. Place in tepid water in a big pan and bring to boil. Boil for 10m. Take care removing and place in warm oven to dry off.

    Also, if you don't fancy boiling you can buy sterilising Milton tablets from chemists. Best of luck.

  • profile image

    Veronica Bayley Davis 

    6 days ago

    I have ordered wire topped bottles with rubber seals. Best way to sterilise please as I don't think they would do well in the oven.

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    9 days ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    For stronger flavour you can put 1 or 2 extra large flowerheads into the mix or lower the amount of water to 7 litres. You should get a good flavour with the cordial which is a lot quicker to make. Follow the Tips for extra guidance. Good luck. Please let me know how you get on - always good to get extra bits of advice and knowledge.

  • profile image


    9 days ago

    Hi, love this recipe and am just attempting it now. There seems to be a lot of water compared to other recipes, does the cordial still have the same elderflower flavour? Thanks

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    4 weeks ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Yes Paola, we've been making either elderflower champagne or cordial and juice for many years. There's nothing quite like sipping/slurping a home-made chilled (alcoholic) drink with friends and family outdoors - that elderflower flavour is hard to beat. The wild yeasts can work well.



  • paolaenergya profile image

    Paola Bassanese 

    4 weeks ago from London

    Hi Andrew,

    I am making elderflower champagne for the second time (the first time was a few years ago) and am not using champagne yeast - the flowers seem to have enough wild yeast to produce plenty of carbonation. One day I'll try your recipe with added yeast to see how it goes! It is a very satisfying process, isn't it?


  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    12 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    It may do, depends on ingredients. You could experiment with one bottle? Wish you well.

  • profile image


    12 months ago

    Have a batch of this started today from elderflowers picked from outside my son's school. Plan on gifting some to the teacher at the end of the school year.

    And with the left over heads and lemons I've make a litre of cordial. Instead of sugar in the cordial I've used a sweetener (erythritol/Stevia mix) and so far it tastes wonderful.

    Just wondering if the sweetener would work in the champagne or even part sugar and part sweetener? (I'm generally low carb so look for alternatives).

    Thanks in advance

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    12 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Hope it goes to plan. Follow the tips if you need them - sterile bottles a must. Chilled, with lemon on a hot day - so nice.

  • profile image


    12 months ago

    It’s high time I made this .... I love the simplicity of this recipe so I’ve tried it as I have an elder on the piece of no-man’s land outside of my house the tree is quite a few years old and today the sun is shining and it’s laden with frothy creamy flower heads.... all the family have been saying we will make it this year so I’ve passed your link/recipe on. We will see how it goes! Thank you

  • profile image


    14 months ago

    Thank you so much Andrew. I'll try pouring it through a filter.

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    14 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Sediment is natural and best left to settle or you could try using a filter when pouring.

  • profile image


    14 months ago

    How do I stop the sediment from rising up when I open the bottle? It spoils my champagne, or maybe I'm Doing something wrong?

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Yes Imogen, there's nothing like the taste of your own home made elderflower champagne! I love the whole process - from collecting the flowers to pouring the final drop. Thank you for the visit and comment, much appreciated.

  • Imogen French profile image

    Imogen French 

    5 years ago from Southwest England

    I love elderflower champagne, and have made it myself a couple of times. The elderflowers are just starting to come out here now so think it might be time to get another batch going soon. Thanks for the clear instructions and tips.

  • lemonkerdz profile image


    6 years ago from LIMA, PERU

    When i go back to England, my mum has bottles of this in store. It is a real childhood memory from when we used to make it. At the moment in the UK elderflower has become really popular, flavoring cakes etc.

    Nice hub

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    6 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks for the visit and comment. I hope one day you might be able to have a go at making this wonderful drink!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Very informative hub. What a wonderful skill to have; making champagne.! Thank you for this information

  • Mike Robbers profile image

    Mike Robbers 

    6 years ago from London

    I have often wondered about the secrets of making champagne, as I really love drinking it.. probably I will experiment one day even if it looks quite difficult to make ..

    thanks for sharing, voted up and shared :)

  • Daisy Mariposa profile image

    Daisy Mariposa 

    6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


    I don't know if I'll be able to follow your recipe here in Southern California, but I did find your article to be very interesting. Well done!

  • nmdonders profile image

    Nira Perkins 

    6 years ago

    That's really unique. Cool recipe. I'd like to try some but I'm not sure I'd trust myself to make my own. I'll pass this along and maybe someone will make me some!

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    7 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you Peggy W. Elder trees are very common around where we live and are considered a nuisance by some - they invade gardens and hedgerows and the like. Not sure if they reached the USA! You could check the latin name out to see if it's been introduced.

    Apreciate your visit.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    I don't know that I have ever seen an elder tree but found this hub fascinating in any case. This should be a contender for certain in the current HP contest for the drink section. Good luck! Voted up, useful and interesting.

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    7 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Yep that's right they do resemble mountain ash (or rowan as the scots call them) blossom - both with a special scent and both bearing berries that are used for juice and jelly! The birds love rowan berries and gobble them up like nobody's business when they ripen to a beautiful matt orange colour.. I'd love to see a moose at 'em!

    The recipe is almost idiot proof, you just have to be a bit careful with sterilizing and bottling. The quaffing is easiest!

    Appreciate your visit.

  • TToombs08 profile image

    Terrye Toombs 

    7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

    Wow, you make this look so easy! The elder look a lot like the mountain ash that grew in my parent's front yard (and the moose used to devestate every spring). Nicely presented and well done. Voted up and more.

  • anglnwu profile image


    7 years ago

    This is so fascinating. I've yet to see real elderflowers but by the pictures, they're beautiful. I can only imagine how nice it would taste. Very well organized and I totally enjoyed reading it. Rated up.

  • vespawoolf profile image


    7 years ago from Peru, South America

    This is a very well-organized hub and the subject is fascinting. It should be a good condidate for the recipe contest, too! We don't have elder trees here, but I remember seeing them in the countryside where I grew up. Thank you for sharing your photos and recipe.


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