Half of the two people living in this house are British.
Also because it was a waste of good tea.
But if we did want to, perhaps, acknowledge the actions of dangerous and ill designing men - and women - these diverse wicked and desperate persons arraying themselves in a hostile manner, and the disorderly acts comitted in disturbance of the public peace, we woud do so with this: Elderflower Champagne.
Because really, who doesn't love a little magic making bubbles in your drinkies?
Especially if said drinkies are essentially free?
What could possibly be better than a free drink?
(Except lots of free drinks, of course.)
My starting point was Darina Allen's Elderflower Fizz recipe, which is quite similar to this River Cottage recipe, which is quite a bit less complicated than this version. Also, the complicated version mentions that bottles may explode (or 'detonate messily', as they delicately put it), whereas River Cottage merely says to perhaps think of opening them in the sink, so that's a small comfort.
This drink relies on natural fermentation to make bubbles (bubbles, I say!), and all the necessary yeast comes from the elderflowers themselves. It's a beautifully sweet, floral sparkling beverage, and easily the most magical thing I have ever made.
Water, sugar, lemon, elderflower, vinegar.
These common substances, some mundane, even, all go into the bottle and somehow miraculously transform into a delicious sparkling drink.
So, bubbles, people. Lots of them.
Wait... did I mention the bubbles?
Clearly there's some fermentation going on here. We just watched the River Cottage episode that features Hugh making Elderflower Champagne, and John the Forager thought Hugh's version was about 4 % alcohol after about a month of waiting. Mine really doesn't taste very alcoholic at all, and if forced to guess, I would have ventured maybe 1 to 2 %, at most, but I have no way of measuring. Also, mine is quite young - only 2 weeks. The longer it ages, the more alcoholic it will be, I think.
Makes about 8 pints, or 4.6 liters.
You will need enough large, strong bottles to hold all the elderflower champagne. Those pretty ones up top? They don't really work. Well-cleaned screw-top wine bottles work a treat, as do quart-sized mason jars with canning lids screwed on tight. Or plastic soda bottles, which conveniently come in larger sizes. You'll also need a large, non-reactive plastic container, a funnel and a strainer.
1/2 cup well-packed elderflower blossoms from about 10 flowers, forked off
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 1/4 pound (600 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
Forking off elderflowers: the green stems and branches are mildly toxic, so remove as many as possible. Hold the base of a flower bunch with one hand, and run a fork through it to quickly and efficiently pop off most of the flowers - forking off accomplished.
Mix all of the above ingredients with 8 pints (4.6 liters) of cool water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Cover loosely and let sit for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, the liquid should be bubbling ever so gently - you can hear the tiny popping noises if you put your ear close. If not, leave for another 24 hours.
When effervescing lightly, strain the liquid and transfer to sterilized bottles. Cap tightly and store in a cool place to age for 2 weeks.
Serve chilled and garnish with berries for a colorful glass of fizz.
Use within 3 months, earlier for less alcoholic brews.
Note: I did not have any 'detonations', but I did have some leakage from the swing-top bottles stored on their side. Wine bottles stored on their sides, and mason jars stored upright were both fine. Some websites suggest opening the bottles carefully every once in a while to release the pressure, if necessary.