Category Archives: Food

Elderflower champagne


Late spring is a glorious time for the wild food forager, when the flowers are in bloom and the leaves are young and sweet. Wild garlic, dandelions and nettles are all at their prime, but for many the flowers of the elder bush are the highlight of the season.

People have been making champagne from this fragrant blossom for generations, and its easy to see why. Elderflowers contain natural yeast, which when left to ferment produces a delicately flavoured, refreshing bubbly drink that is ideal for quenching your thirst on a hot midsummer day. Elderflowers can also be used to make a sweet cordial, and later in the year the berries can be used to make elderberry wine.

To make your own elderflower champagne, all you’ll need is:

  • A gallon of warm water
  • 700g sugar
  • Juice and rind of 2 lemons
  • A tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 15-20 elderflower heads

In a spotlessly clean bucket, dissolve the sugar in the water, and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. If the water is too hot, it will kill off the yeast and you won’t get any fermentation. Add the elderflowers, lemons and vinegar, give it all a mix, then cover with a cloth and leave to ferment. The natural yeast will begin to do it’s magic on the sugar, transorming it into alcohol and tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. It will need to stand for at least two days for the fermentation to start properly. The mixture can be left anything from two days to a week before bottling.

Once you’re ready to bottle up your champagne, you’ll want to strain the mixture to remove any bits from it. You’ll need to clean, sterilise, rinse and dry your bottles before flling them. The easiest bottles to use are swing-top bottles which are designed to withstand pressure or plastic fizzy drink bottles, but these will generally need to be checked every day to make sure they aren’t building up too much pressure or they may explode.

A week or two later, and your champagne should be ready for drinking!

If you’d like to have a go at learning how to make elderflower champagne, the Smart Future Centre will be making plenty of it at Northdown Orchard, as one of the activities on offer during their Pot Luck Picnic. As well as taking part in the elderflower making workshop you can bring some picnic food and drinks to share, have a tour of the farm, and take part in the raffle.

To make sure that there’s enough chairs for people to sit on and enough space for people to park, the organisers are asking people to RSVP their attendance by phone on 01256 614895 ; email ; or joining the event on facebook.

Community Orchard – War Memorial Park


Last weekend, after a couple of weather-related false starts, a group of volunteers completed work on the new community orchard that has been planted in War Memorial Park, right in the centre of Basingstoke. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the work of the dedicated people at Incredible Edible North Hampshire. The orchard is sure to become a source of enjoyment for many people in the community in the years to come.

The trees may have been successfully planted in the ground, but this project doesn’t stop here. Right from the start, this orchard has been planned to act as an educational aid and as an inspiration to as many people as possible. Continue reading

Earth Hour 2013

Earth Hour 2013

Spring is in the air, and Basingstoke is coming alive. Next saturday, gatherings of people all around the world will be celebrating Earth Hour – 60 minutes from 8.30pm to 9.30pm when lightbulbs will be dimmed, electrical appliances switched off, and time will be set aside to think about how we can take action on climate change, together.

To celebrate Earth Hour 2013, the Smart Future Centre team is inviting people from all over the Basingstoke area to switch off together with good food and good company. Bring a friendly smile and a dish to share with your neighbours for the ‘Do It In the Dark’ Pot Luck Supper. Continue reading

Community Orchard planting


Incredible Edible North Hampshire has secured a grant through Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council to fund the creation of a Community Orchard in the Basingstoke War Memorial Park, as recently featured in the Basingstoke Gazette.

The Community Orchard is being planted right in the heart of the town, and come harvest time will provide a rich selection of freshly-picked fruit for the benefit of the local community every year. Continue reading