Wild cuisine: Sauco champagne recipe

This fermented drink made from elderflowers is not technically champagne because it does not contain the varietals used to make authentic champagne. But it’s been popularly called elderflower champagne for generations.

It is served cold for a unique and refreshing drink on hot summer evenings.

Made from the cream-colored flowers of the elderberry bush (Sambucus nigra or S. canadensis), Elderflower Champagne is a naturally sparkling, all-natural, delicately flavored drink.

elderberry, champagne, natural drink, natural herbs, recipes



  • 7 to 8 large elderflowers (about 6 inches in diameter) (or twice as many small elderflower clusters)
  • 2 pints boiling hot water (filtered or dechlorinated) 6 pints cold water (filtered or dechlorinated)
  • 1 pound honey (or 1 1/2 pounds sugar)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or 2 large lemons -juice and rinse- plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar)

Step-by-step instructions for this elderflower champagne recipe

  • Gather the ingredients.
  • Do not wash the elderflowers.
  • It is its natural yeasts that will cause the fermentation.
  • Just shake off the insects and remove the thick stems.
  • Place the honey or sugar in a very large bowl and pour in the two liters of boiling water.
  • Stir until the honey or sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Add the 6 liters of cold water. Add the vinegar or lemon juice and the elderflowers.
  • Cover it with a clean tea towel and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 48 hours, stirring at least twice a day.
  • After these two days, you should see signs of fermentation: the top of the liquid will look frothy and bubbly, especially when you stir it.
  • If the liquid is still completely still after 48 hours, add a very small pinch (just a few grains) of baker’s yeast and wait another 48 hours, stirring occasionally, before proceeding to the next step.
  • Pour the fermenting elderflower champagne through a fine-mesh sieve and strain the flowers (and lemon zest, if using).
  • Use a funnel to help transfer the brew into clean plastic soda-type bottles with screw caps or thick ceramic bottles or beer bottles with flip-top caps.
  • Do not use glass bottles with corks, as elderflower champagne is very prone to popping corks or, even worse, popping bottles.
  • Leave at least one centimeter of free space between the surface of the liquid and the rim of the bottles.
  • Attach the sockets. Leave it at room temperature for a week, “burping” (briefly opening) the bottles at least once a day.
  • After the week at room temperature, transfer them to the refrigerator, but continue to “burp” the bottles occasionally for another week.



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