What better way to start our home brewing season (seriously – recipes coming soon for sloe gin and elderflower champagne) with a flower wine?
Mayflower or Hawthorn blossom can be widely found in both towns and the countryside.
We will leave the more heavy-bodied fruit recipes until the autumn harvest, and concentrate on quickly fermented varieties now that the blossoms are ripe for the picking. Flower petal wines clear well, mature early and produce wines of delicate flavour and have pleasantly fragrant bouquet. Always pick the blossom when they’re in full bloom on a dry sunny day, discarding stems and other green parts. Try to avoid picking flowers near a road. To measure the flower heads, pack them loosely into a measuring jug. The May blossom of the hawthorn bush or tree makes a light flowery wine, which I prefer with a fairly dry finish.
What you need:
- 4 pints of hawthorn or mayflower blossom
- l.2 kg (2½ lbs) granulated sugar
- 226g (8 oz) sultanas
- 1 lemon and 1 orange
- 1 Campden tablet
- ½ teaspoon grape tannin (or two teabags)
- 1 gallon of cool, boiled water
- All purpose wine yeast and yeast nutrient
What to do:
Wash the blossom to remove dust and insects, place into a large white sterilised bucket and cover with a gallon of boiling water.
Stir in the crushed Campden tablet and leave to infuse for 24 hours.
Draw off two pints of the liquid, heat just to boiling point and pour over the sugar, stirring until dissolved. When this syrup has cooled to blood heat, return it to the bulk of the liquid.
Add yeast, nutrient, chopped sultanas, grape tannin and the juice of the citrus fruit. Shake the demi-john.
Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to ferment for five days, stirring twice daily.
Strain the liquid carefully and transfer to a one-gallon fermenting jar. Fit an air-lock and leave to continue fermenting.
Within a few weeks, the sediment will begin forming at the base of the jar and the ‘must’ or new wine will start clearing.
When all fermentation has ceased, add one crushed Campden tablet.
Siphon or ‘rack’ the new wine from the sediment into another sterilised demi-john, and store in a cool dark place to mature for at least four months.
Serve cool and sweetened if desired.