Saturday, 24 November 2012

Frugal, Festive 'Champers'

Frugal, Festive Fruit or Flower 'Champagne'

A special blog post about cheap plonk, for 'THEO THE RANDY' and 'TEAM PUGH'.
It's not too late to make some for Christmas, if you have surplus fruit available.
Elderflower fizz & clootie dumpling
How to make the frugaldom 'champagne' is something I learned while spending time on a tiny island called Shapinsay, which is off the coast of mainland Orkney. It was some time ago, back in the 20th Century, so I can't remember when, only how.
This friend (thank you, Emma) taught me the secrets of frugal gourmet wines, from red clover to rhubarb. So easy and so cheap to make. For this, I will always be grateful.
For the clootie dumping recipe, that's thanks to my Gt, Gt Granny Kerr, the recipe for that can be found HERE and can also be found in the Frugaldom forum.
You can substitute rhubarb with whatever surplus non-citrus fruit/edible flowers you have: brambles, red clover, honeysuckle, elderflowers, but don't add a full kilo of flower heads. (I wonder if nasturtiums would work?)

1kg chopped fruit
1kg white sugar - reduce according to how sweet the fruit is, I've used half this in past.
1/2 cup vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
1 sliced lemon
5 litres boiling water

Thoroughly clean and sterilise your bucket. Pour in the boiling water, lemons and sugar, stir to dissolve. Add the chopped rhubarb. (I just top it, tail it and wash it, I don't peel it, as the red skins make pink champagne.)
Stir the contents of the bucket, cover and leave to stand in a cool, dark place. I give the contents a stir every day for about 5 days, then strain off all the fruit through muslin, cotton or fine net before bottling in glass bottles with secure caps.
When straining the fruit from the liquid, I cut the centre out of the lid of the bucket and used that to clip the cotton in place. The buckets with lids are easy to come by - just ask anyone who's bodybuilding and they'll have plenty of whey shake buckets to rehome.
Whatever colour fruit or flowers you use will dictate the colour of the resulting liquid. This batch was a result of a mixture of green and red stem rhubarb, but it paled to pink when done.
Clip top bottles are great if you can salvage any, but ordinary glass bottles with sloping sides and screw caps work equally well.
Now, I'll also admit to baking the strained rhubarb into crumbles after straining it from the liquid! Zero waste! From the ingredients stated, I can bottle 5 litres of liquid. 

This wine (it's naturally fermenting as time passes) does get a champagne-like fizz fairly quickly, so it's best to check the bottles and caps frequently.
The end result, as seen here, is ready for drinking within a couple of weeks of bottling, so there's still time to get a Christmas 2012 batch made.
Storage-wise, I have managed to successfully keep this from one year to the next... other than the year it froze solid and burst the bottles.
Oh! And there was also the jet-propelled pink champagne rocket episode, which included a small explosion as a result of my testing out 2 litre fizzy drinks bottles. 
If storing it for longer (or in plastic bottles, as suggested elsewhere), don't forget to check the bottles & caps every so often. They WILL explode, just like my 4 bottles of blackberry 'champagne' fizz, they took off like rockets!


  1. that sounds really good. Will have to make a batch in the spring. I am guessing it is quite sweet?


  2. Yes, very sweet and very fizzy. But you could always leave it longer and allow more fermentation. It drinks like carbonated juice or perry but there's a definite alcohol content, even if it's a very low one. :)

  3. I always assumed that making drinks like that would be really complicated, but that sounds pretty easy! I shall have to add it to my list of things I want to try!

  4. Andrea, I can highly recommend it. The most difficult part is remembering to check the bottles to help prevent any from going 'pop'. Good luck and have fun making your frugal 'champers'. :)

  5. Frugal, I guess I could use raspberry's or any soft fruit?
    I have just made my batch I have made at least 12 wine bottles problem was finding bottles .

  6. WP, the ones in my photo were just fizzy drinks bottles, the type that normally has a nominal return deposit on them. When I ran out, I got some empties from the local store, who were happy to let me have them in exchange for the (at that time) 20p deposit. I've also now got 3 lovely swing top bottes, dnated by my sister after she bought them full of posh lemonade from M&S. As for the fruit I use, I'm about to try a mixture of raspberry and blackcurrant. Blackberries worked really well (to point of explosion in plastic bottles!), so I can't see there being much difference with raspberries. I reckon most fruits would work, as it's the sugars fermenting that gives it the fizz.

  7. Great thanks for explaination mmmm raspberry and blackcurrant sounds nice you must let me know how it goes.
    Wow that takes me back to my childhood returnable glass pop bottles not seen any in our neck of woods in 20 years or more!
    But when we went on hols to IOW I got two of those posh bottles with pear juice in think they only cost £1.99 we were going to get more but we never went back to IOW.
    I cant wait try more fruit varieties out although Rhubarb looks good.
    How long is best to leave to ferment?

  8. It can be bottled within a week and it's ready for drinking after about a fortnight, when it's like fizzy juice. :)


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