Making homemade wine is alot easier than you think. Plus its a really great way to be more self sufficient especially after the recent global pandemic. Elderflower is probably one of my favourite homemade white wines and its extremely cheap to make.
The best time to pick elderflowers is in early to mid June on a dry day. Most hedgerows will be blossoming with yellow or white blooms from the elder tree. It’s best to avoid picking sprigs near roadsides (car pollution) or nearer to the ground (animals mark their scent). Try to choose elder trees located in fields and pick from mid waist upwards and remember if it smells funny, (it should smell floral) leave it and move on to the next bloom.
When picking the blooms, try to pick as less of the branch or stems as possible as these are actually poisonous. A filled plastic carrier bag should give you enough elderflower to use and remember to use the elderflower as soon as you can to keep the flowers fresh.
Remember to leave some blooms to turn into elderberries for another great wine making opportunity later on in the year.
This also allows bees to collect the nectar from the remaining flowers. The bees will pollinate the flowers to give you lots of elderberries in late summer, and then you can make some elderberry wine for a very rich full bodied red wine.
- Brewing Bucket with lid
- Demijohn & Air Lock
- Long Spoon (Plastic or Stainless Steel)
- Pint Jug
- Muslin bag
- 6 Bottles and 6 corks
- 1 pint of Elderflower petals, press slightly to fill
- 8 pints boiling water
- 1.3kg Sugar
- 200g Raisins
- Grated rind of 2 Lemons
- Juice of the 2 Lemons (Or 2 tsp Lemon Juice)
- 1 cup of Stewed English Tea
- 1tsp Yeast Extract
- 1tsp Yeast Nutrient
- Stabilising Tablet
- Wine Finings
Removing the flowers:
To remove the flowers from the green stalks you can use scissors to cut the tiny flowers off the stalks or pinch them all off.
Put the flowers into a pint jug and press down lightly until you have a full pint.
Compress elderflower petals into a pint jug.
Once your brewing bucket is sterilised, add the sugar, elderflowers, raisins and the grated lemon rind, lemon juice.
Then pour over 8 pints of boiling water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
Add the stewed tea, then stir.
Next, cover the bucket with its lid and leave it to cool for a couple of hours or till it reaches 20°c.
Once this temperature has reached, add the yeast extract and yeast nutrient. Stir, and put the lid of the bucket back on.
Leave the bucket for four days on heat between 20-20oC, then check back in 7 days.
For the first few days there will be a lot of bubbling of the wine in the bucket. This will start to settle down and fewer bubbles will be bubbling up by day 7.
After 7 days, using a muslin cloth, strain the wine into a sterilised Demi-John. You should fill the Demi-John to just below the neck and try to squeeze as much juice as you can.
Fit the air lock and bung and put back into the warm place to finish fermenting. The airlock should have a small amount of water in. You will notice that bubbles will start to bubble through the airlock. This may take an hour or so, so don’t be worried if you don’t see the airlock bubbling straight away.
The wine should keep fermenting for another 2 weeks and you will notice that the bubbles decrease in frequency until no more bubbles are coming through the airlock.
Once fermentation has completed (no more bubbles), its time to take a hydromonitor reading.
Now rack the wine into a clean demijohn.
Racking means taking the wine off the sediment in the bottom of the Demijohn and putting it into a clean, sterilised Demijohn . If you don’t have a second Demijohn , we can use the brewing bucket, and then clean out the Demi-John and then transfer the wine from the bucket back into the clean Demijohn
To rack the wine, put the Demijohn on a table or kitchen worktop. Put the second Demijohn (or bucket) on the floor below.
Using the siphon, put one end into the wine and the other into the end of the second Demi-John and let the wine drain through. Remember not to disturb the sediment and suck the wine from the syphon tube till it reaches your lips. Its okay to take a sneeky taste, to check your wine taste good!
Now its time to add the wine stabliser and stir every few hours for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, add the wine finings and leave the wine to clear over 10 days in a cool place.
Once the wine has cleared, then its time to bottle up into clean wine bottles.
If you have a hydrometer its time to take the next reading. It should be below 1.000. You can now use your hydrometer to work how much alcohol is in your finished wine.
Give it a month in the bottle and pop one open and enjoy. It’s best if you can leave it to condition for 6 months. But if your like me and can’t wait, elderflower wine tastes great to drink after 3 weeks too.
Remember to drink responsibly.