Drink the Harvest
MEAD IS AN ANCIENT BEVERAGE made from honey and water. Mead is versatile and can be flavored by fruits, herbs, or flowers. The only limit is your imagination. Try chocolate mead or hot pepper mead! The taste sensation is rich and complex. No matter what flavor of mead you make, the result can be sublime, making any occasion memorable.
The aroma of honey meets the nose before mead meets the tongue. Then comes a river of sensation: a velvety sweetness, a slight mystery that speaks of time and patience. Mead is not a beverage to quaff at dinner, but rather a treat to savor with close friends or family in front of a fire. Perfect with appetizers, mead is a special drink for special events.
Don’t be put off by the price of honey used to make mead. Honey from a local producer may be surprisingly inexpensive, depending on your region, and so a finished batch of mead may cost $1 or less a bottle. The flavorings are also inexpensive when you grow or pick your own.
We recommend against microwaving honey to heat it for our mead recipes. Microwaving honey can alter the flavor, and overheating can “cook out” some of honey’s goodness.
Makes approximately 1 gallon
Preptime: About 1 hour, plus time for fermenting and bottling
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Bring the gallon of water to a boil in a large pot.
Warm the honey by placing the jar in a bowl of hot water.
Heat the fruit juice or jelly and water to lukewarm (approximately 100–105°F), and sprinkle with the yeast. set the mixture aside to let it proof.
Pour the warm honey into a sterilized 1-gallon fermentation jug.
Fill the jug about halfway with the boiled water, and swirl vigorously to mix honey and water.
Add the raisins.
Fill the jug to the shoulders with boiled water, leaving enough room to add the yeast mixture.
Allow the mixture to cool; when it is lukewarm (100–105°F), add the proofed yeast mixture.
Stopper the jug with a sterilized airlock, and check in 1 hour to make sure the airlock is bubbling.
Set the jug in a cool, dark place until the bubbling stops and the liquid clears. this fermentation can take 2 weeks to several months. don’t be concerned about how the mixture looks after a few weeks, as it may darken during fermentation.
Rack the mead. (this may be repeated several times until mead has cleared.)
Bottle the mead, and let it age for at least 6 months. the mead improves after 1 year or more.
Some people may be concerned about using raw honey. Most store-bought honey has been pasteurized (heated to 161°F), which kills bacteria but strips the honey of flavor and character. This recipe uses raw honey; in fermentation, the vigorous growth of yeast wins out over the growth of bacteria. If, improbably, yeast growth is weak and bacteria are present, you will be able to tell by a bad smell. In that case, discard the mead immediately and start over.
Optional:MAKE IT SPARKLE!
• to create an effervescent mead, rack the
mead into a clean jug.
• dissolve 2 heaping tablespoons of priming sugar in a small amount of warm water, and add to the jug.
• swirl the mead to distribute the dissolved sugar and bottle immediately.