You may have heard some whispers and rumblings about mead lately, as it’s become somewhat of a hot topic.
By Colleen Codekas, contributing writer
But, what is mead, anyway? In its simplest form, it’s a fermented alcohol drink made with honey and water, also sometimes called “honey wine.” Some historians claim that mead is the oldest form of alcohol created by humans, dating back thousands of years. If people back then could make mead, then we certainly can now, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. The best way to start is on a small scale, and a gallon batch of mead is the perfect size for beginners. Here is my simple one gallon mead recipe.
If you start looking up recipes for mead, you will notice that a lot of them seem complicated with fancy equipment. Maybe after a few tries you will want to expand your mead making skills to that level, but for now we’re just going to stick with the basics.
- A one gallon jug with a narrow neck for brewing. I prefer to use glass for this, as I don’t care for plastic, but a plastic jug will work in a pinch.
- An airlock with a rubber stopper. You can alternatively use a balloon with a pinhole that is attached to the top of the jug. The gasses will be able to escape through the pinhole without letting any oxygen in. (You can also get the glass jug with airlock together for a better price).
- A stainless steel pot
- A big spoon
- A funnel, bigger is better
- A thermometer. Just a regular meat thermometer will do.
- Sanitizer, I like One Step brand as it is easy to use and nontoxic. It is very important that you sanitize everything that will be used prior to brewing.
Strawberry Mead Recipe
As soon as you add any fruit to mead, it is then called a “melomel,” so that is technically what this recipe is. Feel free to use any fruit you might have on hand, or leave the fruit out completely and just do a straight mead if you’d like. The process is the same either way.
- 2-3 pounds honey, preferably raw (3 pounds is about 1 quart, and will yield a sweeter mead)
- Champagne yeast (or other wine making yeast)
- 1 cup (more or less) organic strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- 10 raisins
- Filtered (non-chlorinated) water
- First and foremost, sanitize everything that will come in contact with the mead.
- Put approximately 1/2 gallon of filtered water into a large stainless steel pot and heat until warm, but not boiling.
- Turn off the heat, add the honey, and stir to dissolve. You can put some hot water back into the empty honey container and shake a bit to get all of the honey out.
- Use a funnel to pour the honey water mixture into the glass jug (it will not fill it completely).
- Add the strawberries and raisins.
- Fill the jug with cold filtered water, leaving about 3 inches of space at the top.
- Cap the jug with its lid and invert once or twice to mix everything together.
- Check the temperature of the liquid; if it is 90°F or less it’s ok to add the yeast. If it’s higher, wait a bit until it cools.
- Add the yeast. One yeast package will ferment up to five gallons of liquid, so you don’t need to use it all. I usually use about half of one package when making a gallon.
- Cap the jug again, and shake it vigorously for a minute or two. This helps to combine and aerate the yeast.
- Attach the airlock to the rubber stopper, fill it with water to the line, and put it into the top of your jug.
The mead should start bubbling within a few hours and the top will get really foamy. Sometimes it foams too much and comes up out of the airlock, but that’s ok. Just rinse the airlock and put it back on the jar. It will subside by the next morning. You will see millions of tiny bubbles coming up through the liquid – that’s the yeast just doing it’s thing.
Now You Have to Wait
Put the jug in a cool and dark corner and wait. It will take about 6-8 weeks to fully ferment, depending on the outside temperature. It will ferment faster when it’s warmer, slower when it’s cooler. Check it every few days to make sure it is still bubbling. Once it completely stops bubbling, it is ready to be bottled. The mead is ready to drink right away, but will benefit from some amount of aging, as it can be a bit harsh at first.
Happy mead making!
About Colleen Codekas
Colleen (and her hubby behind the scenes, Joel) run the blog Grow Forage Cook Ferment, a website that teaches about all types of homesteading endeavors, particularly related to food, herbalism, permaculture, health and self sufficiency. She loves growing and foraging for herbs and other plants, making herbal salves, cooking food from scratch, and making mead (honey wine).