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  • Writer's pictureKate

Recipe: Elderflower fizz

As promised, we've been doing a bit of experimenting with fizz making.

We couldn't work out why every single recipe for naturally brewed fizz contained vinegar AND lemon juice- we figured that if it was just for acidity balancing, that didn't make any sense- especially as the quantities of the acids in various recipes were wildly different. So we've been trying using either vinegar or lemon juice rather than both.

Also, if you don't leave it to ferment for long (because children want to drink it), the drink is really rather sweet (not that the children in question have been complaining about that)- so we're also investigating whether using a lot less sugar will work better for a quick brewed drink.

So here are the first set of results, for with vs without vinegar- after the basic recipe!

Basic recipe:


  • 2l water

  • 1 cup sugar (white, but other than that doesn't matter what sort)

  • 8-10 heads elderflower

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 tbsp cider or wine vinegar

You will also need

  • A tablespoon

  • A big bowl or pan- more than 4l capacity

  • A clean tea towel

  • String (to tie on the tea towel- optional)

  • Paper and pen- to label the bowl

  • 1x 2l or 2x 1l clean fizzy drink bottles- these MUST be designed to hold fizzy drinks so they don't explode! Screw top is best for releasing pressure.

  • A sharp knife, chopping board and fork

  • A vegetable peeler or zester (optional)

  • A big jug or other container you can pour from

  • A clean piece of cloth (pour boiling water over it to make sure if you like)

  • A sieve or colander


  1. Snip or pull the big elderflowers off the thick stems (leaving the thin stems is fine) and drop them in the bowl

  2. Zest and juice the lemon and put it all in the bowl - I just hack at the peel vaguely- it's all going in the bowl anyway- the point is just to let as much of the flavour out as possible, so damaging the cells is the thing to go for.

  3. Pour all the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and give it a stir

  4. Cover with the tea towel and put out of the way for 2 days. I tie the tea towel loosely onto the bowl with string and put a piece of paper on top with the date and what ingredients went in this time... avoids confusion later!

  5. After 2 days, filter the liquid into a big jug (you may need to do this a bit at a time) by pouring through the clean cloth placed in a sieve or colander.

  6. Pour the filtered liquid into the bottle

  7. Screw on the lid tightly and leave somewhere out of the way for 3 days- 4 weeks.

  8. Check the drink pressure daily and release the lid a little if the pressure is getting high to avoid explosions.

  9. Drink, preferably chilled!

The drink will get more alcoholic and less sweet the longer you leave it- refrigerate once it's at the stage you want, and only give to children for the first few days after starting to ferment- at this point it's like the posh "natural" fizzy drinks you can buy.

And the verdict:

First thing, leaving the drink for about 3 days in the warm weather we've been having (house at 22 degrees C) is plenty to make a sparkling drink- though it's a bit of a kiddy pop rather than anything more sophisticated tasting at this stage.

By day 2 we were needing to start to release pressure- obviously there are lots of good wild yeast colonies floating around Derby at the moment!

Next, we tested a version with no vinegar added against the version with the full recipe above.

With 6 of us tasting, it went 3 against 3. Interestingly, the older 3 of us all preferred the version WITH vinegar- which tasted a little less sweet and had more flavour- but the younger 3 all preferred the version without.

I suspect if the drink were brewed for longer, the version without vinegar would become more like the version with.

So basically, it works fine either way!

Next tests: No lemon juice vs with lemon juice and low-sugar elderflower fizz... It's really tough having to taste all these summery drinks!

Hope you enjoy making them!

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