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I have made elderflower 'champagne' a number of times, but I don't really understand it. I ferment other drinks and foods, and generally understand the process quite well, but I'm not sure about this. I'm wondering if it is-

  1. some sort of yeast off the elderflowers
  2. A kind of reaction similar to vinegar and bicarbonate of soda (I assume not)
  3. Some other type of symbiotic fermentation/wild yeast or something I haven't thought of.

The recipe includes elderflowers in a gallon of water with 1 lemon, 1 1/2 pounds of sugar, and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar soaked together for 24-48 hours and then bottled for 2 days for carbonation.

  • Unless there's a boiling step natural yeasts are going to ferment -- do you bring it to the boil (or heat it significantly) at any stage? – Chris H May 27 '16 at 10:23
  • No, and I'm sure there are wild yeasts in it. I just was wondering about a breakdown of the process. – Corsara May 27 '16 at 11:04
  • I don't understand the question. What is a "symbolic fermentation"? What is the difference between "yeast off the elderflowers" and "wild yeast"? – rumtscho May 27 '16 at 11:07
  • Sorry, that's supposed to be symbiotic fermentation. I'm thinking of something like kombucha. And by the yeast off the elderflowers I'm basically asking what the source of the yeast would be. I guess they are both wild yeasts, but does elderflower have specific yeasts on it that lend it to being suitable to ferment is this way, like apples do for making cider, or is it airborne yeasts? Sorry about the confusion. – Corsara May 27 '16 at 11:14
  • AFAIK nobody can tell which yeasts fermented a given plant matter, the airborne ones or the ones stuck to it. OK, the methods for it are there, so food technologists might have studied the proportions for given industry-relevant processes like winemaking, but I doubt that they did it for elderflower, or for the specific conditions in your kitchen. – rumtscho May 27 '16 at 14:06
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It is certainly a fermentation. A simple chemical neutralization wouldn't need that much time, and wouldn't produce lasting fizz.

You can be certain that there are wild yeasts everywhere: in the air in your kitchen, on your elderflower, probably on your utensils, etc. It is impossible to say which ones prevailed in the fermentation, the ones you brought in with the elderflower or the ones which came into it from some other sources.

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