This should have been a post about elderflower champagne but the UK weather got the better of me. Luckily I have, over the years, adopted the simple fermenting method for elderflower champagne to create a fruity champagne using the softs fruits from my garden. Impress your friends and family with an elegant summer drink, similar to lemonade but with a beautiful fruity taste and around 1.5-3% alcohol.
Fruity Champagne is so easy to make. You don’t need any special equipment: a fermentation bucket, couple of kitchen utensils, cheesecloth and plastic fizzy drinks bottles (the ones shaped like torpedoes). Three simple ingredients: soft fruits, unrefined caster sugar and water. The fizz comes from the natural yeast on the fruit skins. A little dissolving, squishing, mixing, infusing, waiting and straining is all that’s needed to create your own fruity fizz.
This recipe uses redcurrant, but it works just as well with most summer fruit (red currents, gooseberries, loganberries, blackberries, etc.) or mix of fruits. You adjust the amount of water according to the amounts of fruit you’ve picked as its never a perfect match.
Basic recipe is 750g to 1kg soft fruits, 1 kg sugar, 7 to 10 litres of water.
- 750g red currants
- 7 litres cold water
- 1 kg unrefined caster sugar
Here’s what you do
De-stalk the red currants, only give them a light rinse and only if you have to. We are using the natural yeast on the fruit skins to create the fizz so less is definitely more. Personally I don’t rinse or wash the fruit. Add the berries to your clean and sterilised fermentation bin.
Add 6 litres of the cold water to the fermentation bin and give it a quick stir with a sterilised spoon.
Dissolve the sugar in the remaining 1 litre of the water – warming it gently to help dissolve the sugar fully. You only want to melt the sugar it doesn’t need to boil.
Carefully pour the sugar syrup into the fermenting bucket and stir to combine with the fruits and water mixture.
Leave covered for 5-7 days somewhere warm but out of direct sunlight. Its ready for the next stage when most of the fruit mash is floating on the top of the liquid. It floats because the yeast is working and already turning the sugar into alcohol.
Using a sterilised long handled skimmer / strainer gently remove most of the floating fruit mash – this makes it easier to strain the liquid into plastic bottles.
Strain the liquid using your sterilised funnel and cheese cloth into very clean sterilised screw-top bottles leaving about 5cm gap at top – plastic fizzy drink bottles are best as glass bottles can and will explode! Use first bottle as a filling guide for the rest and screw lids on as you go … just in case any get knocked over. Better safe than sorry!!!
Leave the bottles for 6-10 days out of direct sunlight in a warm but not too hot spot. The warmth helps the yeast to continue to work it’s magic turning sugar into alcohol.
On day 6 test to make sure it isn’t get too fizzy by unscrewing the tops a little. It may need another week or so to get going, so be patient.
And that’s it fruit champagne or red currant fizz! Serve chilled with ice on a sunny day and impress yourself, your family and friends.
A word or two on sterilisation, or at least how I do it:
Spoons, cheesecloth, funnel sterilised in rapid boiling water for 5 minutes.
Carefully sloshing a kettles worth of boiling water around very clean fermentation bin and drain, should do the trick.
Plastic bottles can be sterilised with white vinegar. Add small amount to bottle, cap on give it a good shake, empty, then repeat with little cold water.