There is an inherent relationship between loving bees and making mead. Fermenting honey into mead is very simple and it may even be the oldest alcohol made by humanity, predating both beer and wine. An ancient product, mead can be either sweet or dry, carbonated or flat, but like frying an egg, it is the simplest things that are the hardest to perfect.
Just like making any other fermented beverage, sterilization and cleanliness are the most important things. Luckily, honey is naturally antibiotic and antimicrobial and can assist keeping your product pure, but sanitation is still the most important procedure. A basic recipe for mead is as follows:
- 1 litre water
- 3 litres honey
Bring water to 60⁰C (hot to the touch, but not scalding) in a pot. It helps to heat the honey while you are waiting by placing honey container in hot water so that it becomes thinner and can become more easily incorporated into the water. Start the yeast at this time as well by adding to warm water (if you can’t scavenge a pack of dried yeast, The Knowledge explains how to re-isolate this microbe). Add the warm honey to the 60⁰C water and stir until fully dissolved, then remove from the heat. Allow to cool before funneling into a fermenting container, such as a carboy, and when the solution reaches 30⁰ (slightly cooler than body temperature) add the yeast. Seal the top with a stopper and bubbler – this is essentially just a doubled-back tube holding a small reservoir of water that allows bubbles of gas to escape but not the air to come back in. When the yeast is completely done being active (in about a month), siphon into individual bottles and let sit for another 3 weeks.
Any flavor can be added during the fermenting process for amazing variations. The variety of honey chosen will also greatly impact the flavor of your mead, as will the type of yeast used. There are specific mead yeasts that are wonderful, and wine yeasts such as champagne will work and add different characteristics. Add fruit, flowers, bark or roots to make different styles and flavors, and the versatile mead can be tailored for holidays or everyday occasions.
Guest post by urban homesteader Sara Pool