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Strawberry Elderflower Sparkling Mead

devon 5 Comments

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strawberry elderflower sparkling mead

Strawberry Elderflower Sparkling Mead

Devon 5 Comments

A drink fit for the fairy queen herself, strawberry elderflower sparkling mead is a divine treat to transport us mere humans to ethereal places.

The final weeks of spring and the first weeks of summer in the PNW are quite often interesting – meteorologically speaking. From blazing heat and tank tops and back to winter sweaters in the same week – Mother Nature keeps us on our toes (be those toes in flip flops or winter boats).

Perhaps I should make it clear – I am not the world’s most patient person.  From getting the garden planted to foraging adventures, I am at the mercy of sweet Mother Nature and her capricious whims.  As such, I have learned to wait and trust that the proper time will {{{eventually}}} present itself.  Meanwhile, I pace and plot.

strawberries

Such is the case with this year’s elderflowers and strawberries.  The strawberries took good advantage of the recent heat, but the elder is still lagging a bit in her blooming.  They seem unaware that I have been planning another strawberry and elderflower pairing since last year.  It is humbling to know how poorly regarded my plans are to Mother Nature and her botanical disciples.

elderflower illustration

Spending the last few weeks pouring over the Herbal Academy’s Craft of Herbal Fermentation course,  has really lit a spark under my inner fermenter.  I have been itching to utilize old and newfound knowledge to craft my own version of strawberry elderflower sparkling mead. This week, the elderflower finally offered a few blooms within reach of extended arms, whilst standing on tippy toes – so it is now strawberry elderflower sparkling mead GAME ON, folks!

elderflower

Can I just tell you what an amazingly beautiful aromatic ferment is happening right now in my kitchen?  Can I?  This drink that is a’ brewing is fit for the most royal of the “fae folk”.  The exquisite combination of wildflower honey, garden fresh strawberries, and ethereal elderflower makes for the sweetest perfume.  Just a few days into the primary ferment, the flavors are melding in a particularly divine way – making me particular grateful that this strawberry elderflower sparkling mead will require very little aging.

Home fermentation is a fairly easy and fun process.  If you are new to fermentation I highly recommend the Craft of Herbal Fermentation course offered by the Herbal Academy, as it full of detailed instructions and recipes for ales, meads, and other fermented foods and beverages.  This particular recipe borrows from several sources including the HA course and this post from Grow Forage Cook Ferment.  I use vigorous champagne yeast to achieve a fairly dry end result – although you can certainly rely on the native yeast in the honey and on the strawberries to spark your primary ferment.  Fresh blossoms are a wonderful addition, but high quality dried elderflowers from sources like Mountain Rose Herbs are a very acceptable substitute.  To ensure that these the resulting strawberry elderflower mead is bubbly and effervescent, I will add a small amount of a dilute honey dosage at bottling (promoting a secondary fermentation in the bottle).  A sparkling mead really only requires two to three weeks of bottle aging before ready to drink – making this strawberry elderflower sparkling mead a perfect summer treat for the fae folk and humans alike.

Take a sip and toast to summer!

strawberry elderflower sparkling mead

Strawberry Elderflower Sparkling Mead Recipe

Strawberry Elderflower Sparkling Mead

A drink fit for the fairy queen herself, strawberry elderflower sparkling mead is a divine treat to transport us mere humans to ethereal places.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon spring water
  • 1.5-2 pounds raw honey
  • 2 cups strawberries chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 packet champagne yeast optional
  • 1.5 cups fresh elderflowers or 3/4 cup dried elderflowers

Instructions

  • Properly sanitize all equipment involved in this process before use.  This can be done with commercial sanitizing solutions created for food safe preparation or even just wash, rinsed, and sanitized with boiling water.
  • In a large pot bring water up to a simmer, add elderflowers and remove from heat.  Allow elderflower infusion to cool to room temperature.
  • Once the elder infusion is cool, combine half a cup of warmish water, a scant teaspoon of honey, the half packet of champagne yeast in a small bowl.  Stir to combine and allow the yeast to rehydrate and "bloom" for 20 minutes.  
  • Add the honey, strawberries, and lemons to a fermentation jug like this.  Pour in the yeast water and the cooled elderflower infusion, allowing adequate head room in the vessel (no farther than the base of the neck for a narrow-mouthed vessel, or at least one inch for a wide mouth vessel like this. Add airlock and lid.
  • Within a few, to 24 hours you should observe signs that fermentation has begun.  If fermentation is especially vigorous or you have overfilled your vessel, you may experience bubble over.  It may be wise to place your fermentation vessel in a bowl or bin for easy clean up; if fermentation overflows into the airlock, rinse and replace airlock.  Replace any liquid lost in during overflow with spring water. Primary fermentation should take two to three weeks.
    I used a skewer or sanitized son handle to break up and moisten the "cap" that forms near the neck about once a day while fermentation is active.
  • When primary fermentation is almost complete the airlock and no longer shows signs of bubbling, it is time to dosage and bottle.  First, pour your strawberry elderflower mead through a fine mesh sieve into a large, sanitized pitcher or dispenser.  Allow to settle in the new container, then rack off any sediment into a new vessel before bottling to help ensure clarity before bottling. Prepare a honey dosage by combining two parts warm spring water to one part honey.  Place 1/2-1 teaspoon of the honey dosage in sanitized bottles (like these), then fill the bottles with the mead within one inch of the bottle opening.  Place in a box with a lid, in a cool spot to create carbonation within the bottle.   This secondary fermentation may take just a few days (in moderate conditions) or up to 2-3 weeks (in cooler conditions).  You may want to start checking on the bottles after a day or two to check on carbonation levels and for excessive pressure.  Always point bottle away from face when opening.   Store in the refrigerator and enjoy within six months!

Strawberry Elderflower Mead

Devon

Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, will be published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of NittyGrittyLife.com can be seen at LearningHerbs.com, GrowForageCookFerment.com, AttainableSustainable.net, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, as yet untitled will be published Fall 2019.

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5 Comments

  • Abigail June 12, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    This looks AMAZING. Both are ripening in our area so I’ll have to go on the hunt & try to make this!

    • Devon June 12, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      The strawberries and elderflowers are calling you, Abigail! Cheers!

  • Christine July 9, 2017 at 5:17 am

    HI there is there any other replacement for the champagne yeast at all? any other starter? I have kombucha and whey on hand.
    TIA

    • Devon July 10, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      I would not use kombucha as a starter as there won’t me the right nutrients in this recipe for that starter. The why might give you a more lactic acid producing ferment. You can also wait for the ferment to start on its own too! Thanks for dropping in!

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