If you’re a beekeeper, you know that when the pollen flows, honey is not far behind. What can you do with all of that golden honey? Make mead, of course! Here’s an easy mead recipe for beginners.
Now, this isn’t a connoisseur’s version. This is the backyard, home brew version. This is designed to get your feet wet before you decide to invest in a lot of equipment. Still, I think you will find it easy, cheap, and satisfying. And maybe you will decide that this technique is all that you need!
Equipment You Will Need:
a 1 gallon glass carboy (optional)
1 gallon of room temperature spring water
3 pounds of raw honey
1 bag of big balloons
1 package of Fleishmann’s Yeast
1 box of raisins
1 orange, sliced into eight pieces
I’d use only the ingredients listed here the first time you try it. However, if you want to get fancy later, you can add some vanilla, mint, lemon balm, rosehips, lavender, hibiscus, rosemary, fruit, or replace some of the water with fruit juice. Be sure to use actually fruit juice though, not juice from concentrate. If you want to add clove for a little wang, restrict it to one or two – not more.
Absolutely do not use tap water or “purified” water. You do not want any chemicals or chlorine in your brew.
Make sure that the water is room temperature. If it’s too hot or too cold, the yeast won’t react. “Room temperature” is 65- 75 degrees F.
Bacteria is the enemy of mead. You want to make sure that the everything is clean. You can boil some of these items or run them through a full dishwasher cycle. Another option is to use a sanitizer made especially for home fermentation. C-Brite or Iodophore are examples.
DON’T use bleach to sanitize. It can leave a bad taste and smell in your finished product.
DON’T boil your honey. Some recipes call for pasteurized honey. You’ll ruin the flavor if you boil your honey.
Make Your Mead
Pour about half of the water into the sterilized glass carboy or a clean container (if you’re brewing using the jug that the water came in). Add the honey, yeast, raisins and orange slices. Shake for about five minutes to mix and aerate.
Uncap the jug. Poke a pinhole in the balloon. Place the balloon over the mouth of the jug. Secure the balloon with the rubber band so it doesn’t pop off when the balloon begins to expand with gas. Check the balloon’s elasticity to be sure that it retains its integrity. If it seem to be degrading, replace it with a new one.
Now, place the jug in a cool, dark place and sit back and wait. In the next day or two, you should see the balloon inflate. This means that fermentation is happening. If the balloon looks like it might pop, it needs another hole. The goal is for the gas to escape without bursting the balloon.
Within two to three weeks, the bulk of the fermentation will be done and the balloon will be limp. Then the brew will go from cloudy to clear. After about two months, your mead is ready to drink! If you like it sweeter, just add honey to taste to the final product. If you prefer a drier mead, you can replace the Fleishmann’s Yeast with champagne yeast that’s available at a home brew store.
Mead has been around for centuries. It’s been called the nectar of the gods, and is found all over the world. If it’s this simple to make, why not try some for yourself? Or share your favorite recipe below.