Old School Mead Recipe

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Can you make good mead with this (and honey)?

Yesterday, I posted a mead recipe for first time mead makers. The recipe was designed to not only yield great mead, but also have a high probability of success. Part of the likelihood of success would be due to taking into consideration some of the newest ideas in mead making — the potassium levels of the mead, the pH and using staggered nutrient additions to help the fermentation along.

Today, I present a somewhat different type of mead recipe. This has been floating around the internet for some time, and quite a few people have been tried it and liked it. It may seem a bit “rustic” to advanced homebrewers or mead makers, but I’d just like to point out a few things before leaving it up to you to decide on the merits of this recipe.

Oranges are relatively high in potassium. Raisins are also fairly high in potassium. The combination of raisins and spices is going to add a small amount of tannins. (And in wine, tannins lend “structure.”) Fleishmann’s yeast is going to drop out early and leave a sweet mead. In wine, sweetness is balanced by acidity and oranges are loaded with citric acid. And finally, others have hit on the same combination of ingredients, more or less (although it’s possible that both of these draw from an older source). In any case, presented for your consideration, here’s Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead.

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead

English units

by Joe Mattioli

 

DESCRIPTION

An “ancient” mead recipe that is simple to make, uses only easily obtainable ingredients and reputedly turns out great. The mead turns out clear and sweet and is flavored with oranges and spices.

 

INGREDIENTS (for 1 gallon)

 

Honey and Fruit (for an OG of 1.112)

3.5 lbs. clover honey

1 large orange

25 raisins

Spices

1 stick cinnamon

1 whole clove

1 pinch nutmeg (optional)

1 pinch all-spice (optional)

Yeast (for an FG of 1.130 and 11% ABV)

Fleishmann’s bread yeast

use 1 tsp.

 

PROCEDURE

Sanitize a 1-gallon jug, preferably with a wide mouth. Pour honey into jug. Wash orange, cut into eighths and place pieces (zest, rind, fruit, everything) in jug. Add spices and fill jug, leaving 3 inches of headspace. Put cap on jug and shake. Remove cap and 1 tsp. of bread yeast. Swirl the jug to mix in the yeast and put on an airlock. Keep in a cool place at room temperature (anything 70–80 °F is fine). After a few days of fermentation, when the mixture stops foaming. Add water to top the jug up. Let sit for 2 months. Don’t rack the mead, feed the yeast or do anything during this period. Once the mead falls clear, it is ready. Bottle — without adding corn sugar for carbonation, as you would in a beer — and enjoy.

 

 

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead

metric units

by Joe Mattioli

INGREDIENTS (for 3.8 L)

 

Honey and Fruit (for an OG of 1.112)

1.6 kg clover honey

1 large orange

25 raisins

Spices

1 stick cinnamon

1 whole clove

1 pinch nutmeg (optional)

1 pinch all-spice (optional)

Yeast (for an FG of 1.130 and 11% ABV)

Fleishmann’s bread yeast

use 1 tsp.

 

PROCEDURE

Sanitize a 3.8-L jug, preferably with a wide mouth. Pour honey into jug. Wash orange, cut into eighths and place pieces (zest, rind, fruit, everything) in jug. Add spices and fill jug, leaving 8 cm of headspace. Put cap on jug and shake. Remove cap and 1 tsp. of bread yeast. Swirl the jug to mix in the yeast and put on an airlock. Keep in a cool place at room temperature (anything 21–27 °C is fine). After a few days of fermentation, when the mixture stops foaming. Add water to top the jug up. Let sit for 2 months. Don’t rack the mead, feed the yeast or do anything during this period. Once the mead falls clear, it is ready. Bottle — without adding corn sugar for carbonation, as you would in a beer — and enjoy.

Comments

  1. Brent Irvine says:

    I tried this about a year ago, but I don’t know. Kind of sickly sweet with undertones of yuck. I am hanging onto it in case it mellows with time.

    B

  2. I also tried it a couple years ago. Mine tasted like rubbing alcohol (I’ve been holding onto a few in hopes it’ll get better but no). I did, however, void the warranty by using the wrong bread yeast. I think I used a “quick” bread machine yeast on accident. I know a lot of people have had success with this and it’s really easy just make sure, if you are going to do it, follow the recipe exactly.

  3. Let me just say, I like the idea of this recipe and I think it’s impressive that someone has made something that makes mead so easily accessible to people. I decided to make this also, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it the “right” way. I used “classier” ingredients. Mead came out very clear, mellow and has some nice complexity. I can say that I wasn’t terribly crazy about it at first, but it has grown on me a bit and some of my friends have really loved it. My recipe and notes are below. I wouldn’t pasteurize anymore, but this was my first go.

    My modified JOAM:
    3 lbs of Orange Blossom Honey, 1/2 lbs Clover
    1 Large orange – Zest and Juice
    1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
    1 stick of cinnamon
    1 whole clove
    optional (a pinch of nutmeg and allspice )( very small ) DID NOT ADD THIS
    Balance water to one gallon

    6/30/2013 Added all ingredients to large pot, brought to 140-150 F for 7-8 minutes. Cooled in ice bath to 110 F. Added half of must to fermenter and shook for 5 minutes. Topped up to 1 gallon, and pitched yeast.

    ~ 8/4/2013 1st Rack. Removed raisins and spices, most of orange zest. Topped off with water. Will top of with must next time.

    9/4/2013 2nd Rack Gravity = 1.013, no need to top off

    12/7/2013 racked and added 0.5 oz medium toast hungarian oak. gravity=1.014

    12/22/2013 racked off of oak chips and stabilized with 1/2 teaspoon of potassium sorbate and 1 campden tablet

    12/29/2013 bottled into 5 x 750 mL bottles.

  4. I was wondering if molasses can be substituted for honey

    • Chris Colby says:

      It could, but it would change the flavor of the recipe. Also, the resulting beverage wouldn’t be a mead. It might taste good, though — there’s one way to find out..

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