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I have made elderflower "champagne" a few times using a traditional method without added yeast, simply relying on the natural yeasts on the flowers.

Similar to sourdough, the results may vary a bit depending on the "yeast lottery" one is playing and yes, sometimes a batch fails. This is usually noticeable after a day or three, I only bottle it up after the smell, taste and fizz tell me that everything is well on the way to the ripe drink. This is what I did with my latest batch this morning.

Now, elderflower season is still in full swing, the weather just right and I'm pondering a second batch. Usually, I'd be cleaning and boiling my fermentation jar before every use, but while bottling, I noticed a generous amount of sediment, which looks like a mix of yeasts and pollen to me.

The sourdough baker in me immediately started wondering:

Would just refilling the jar with fresh water, flowers sugar and citric acid be a good idea? Would the sediment act like a sourdough starter? Or would I commit the cardinal sin of working with a "dirty jar" instead, setting me up for failure?

Note that the yeasty-alcoholic-fermenty smell of this batch was particularly nice and that I closed the fermenting jar immediately after pouring out the raw champagne, keeping contamination at a minimum.

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Sounds like you got a good wild yeast. By all means try to capture it. Pitching your yeast should insure it becomes dominate on further batches.

Not going to detail everything here but some items to look up for DIY.

  • Yeast washing

  • Yeast slants

  • Yeast starters

  • Long term yeast storage

In short I would take a small portion of the trub and grow more for future use. Every few months you want to repeat to keep your culture alive.

It's very important to capture on this batch, as future batches using this yeast with possible wilds from New flowers may kill your strain.

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That is probably fine and will start the fermentation faster. I do that all the time in homebrewing beer (with store-bought yeast, though).

The concern is in homebrewing that the yeast degenerates after a few cycles, and then starts producing off-flavors. But if you still leave it open for wild fermentation, that's probably not an issue anyway.

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Your are correct in your assumption that the old yeast cake will act exactly like a sourdough starter.

If it is smelling good, I would immediately pitch a new batch of elder-flower must straight onto the yeast cake and make some more.

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