Elderberry is a great plant! Not only can you use the flowers to make elderberry soda and elderberry sparkling wine, you can also bake the flowers in batter. Or wait a little longer and cook elderberry soup from the fruit, also called lilac berry soup in northern Germany. My grandmother always used to make it in the summer, with lots of love and lots of semolina dumplings.Jump to recipe
This is what summer tastes like! Elderberry lemonade is a tangy, fermented midsummer drink.
At the latest around summer solstice, the elderberry blossoms. Even as you pass by, the large umbels entice you with their delicious smell. You can buy them rarely, it is best to pick them yourself. Far away from busy roads, the blossoms are certainly of better quality than on the highway. Many have elderberry bushes in their garden, just ask your neighbors. In return, you can give them a bottle of elderberry lemonade.
When picking wild flowers, please observe the traditional practices.
- Respect nature.
- Take only as much as you need.
- Always leave a few plants so they can reproduce.
- Animals also like blossoms, do not steal their feed in excess.
- Nature reserves are of course off limits.
- For collecting a basket is suitable, there the plants are not crushed.
Once you've collected the blossoms, you can set about making your own elderberry soda or elderberry champagne.
This recipe makes 1.5 liters of beverage. Whether it becomes elderberry lemonade or elderberry sparkling wine depends on the fermentation time. But it will have at least 0.5% alcohol. That is as much as would still be permitted by law in Germany for non-alcoholic beer.
How to control the alcohol content of elderberry lemonade?
The natural yeasts on the flowers combined with the sugars are very powerful nutrition for alcoholic fermentation. To calculate the alcohol content, the basic formula is
C6H12O6 ➩ 2(CH3CH2OH) + 2(CO2) + energy
sugar (glucose) ➩ alcohol (ethanol) + carbon dioxide + energy
The type of yeast also regulates the maximum alcohol content. It is lower for brewer's yeast than for wine yeast. The wild yeast strains on the flowers are of course not controllable, so that fermentation by-products or final alcohol content are rather difficult to predict. In addition, fermentable sugars sit on the blossoms, the amount of which cannot be determined. In general, less sugar and a shorter fetmentation time produce less alcohol. So if you give the first fermentation only 24h of time and then give the lemonade only one more day to carbonate, you will usually have no more than about 1% alcohol in your drink.
After a day, there is already plenty of carbonic acid, but only very little alcohol, so that the drink is now an elderberry soda. It is still quite sweet. Burp each bottle once, which means opening it slightly and releasing the pressure. Then store the bottles in a cool place, preferably away from light. I have a dedicated ferment refrigerator for this. If I didn't have that, I would put the bottles in the basement. Here, too, explosions can be made less dangerous by placing a cloth or cardboard box over the bottles.
Elderberry sparkling wine
While the sugar in the drink is slowly broken down, the alcohol content increases during fermentation. Unopened, the sparkling wine can be kept for at least one year if stored in a cool place and protected from light.