13 June 2015
Fermented Honey: Mead Making 101
Lindsay Wilson's Mead Making Class that the Fall Conference 2014 was a hit. The following is her handout with information about honey and a thorough recipe. In case you are unfamiliar with mead, it is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. It can be infused with plant matter and used as medicine.
Some basics about honey
- Humans have been gathering honey a very long time ~ rich symbiotic relationship ~ (a coevolution) of flowering plants, humans, and honey bees
- Nectar of the flower of plants, stored in the stomach of the bee (predigested) and then regurgitated during a process called “food share” which adds enzymes to the nectar and then inserted into hive cells; they then fan their wings until nectar reaches 18.6% moisture content; cap and store honey
- Bees change sucrose into glucose & fructose
- 2 million visits to flower = 1 lb of honey
- Honey bees travel from up to 3-5 miles to collect nectar, pollen, and resin
- Honey bees are also attracted to strong medicinal plants
- A complex of enzymes, plant pigments, organic acids, esters, antibiotic agents, and trace minerals; it contains protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron, niacin, and Vit C
- Honey can be used as an antibiotic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antiallergenic, laxative, antianemic and tonic properties
Merry Mead Making
*For predictable ferments, sanitize with hot, soapy water. If you want to be on the wild side, do not.*
- Two pots
- Large spoon
- Sanitizer (Iodine, Dish-soap, etc.)
- Carboy (1 gallon, glass cider jug)
- Rubber cork
- Raw Honey
Batch Size & Ratios:
- 1 Gallon: 1 1⁄2 pints honey, 3 quarts water, 1⁄2 packet of yeast
- 5 Gallons: 1 gallon of honey, 4 gallons water, full packet of yeast
- Make a strong tea using half the water; decoct roots, seeds, mushrooms, bark, & twigs, infuse leaves and flowers.
- When the tea cools below 155 F degrees, stir in all the honey & any fruit you might be adding.
- Stir in the remaining water, & when the tea cools below 105 F degrees, put half of it through the strainer & funnel, into the sanitized carboy.
- Pitch the yeast into the carboy, followed by the rest of the strained tea. (Make sure the temperature of the water/tea is below 105 F degrees before adding the yeast.)
- Cap the carboy with the cork & airlock. Store it in a warm space; best between 60 F – 80 F degrees.
If you’ve brewed more than a gallon, it’s a good idea to rack the mead into another vessel when the fermentation slows down. (Usually when the ‘blooping’ reaches to be only once a minute, which takes anywhere from 1 – 6 weeks after brewing.) Use a racking cane to siphon the mead into another carboy, leaving plant dregs and trub behind.
When fermentation has ceased and the mead is clear, it is best aged in bottles. Depending on sugars, temperature, and yeast nutrients, this time can come from 4 – 15 weeks after brewing. Siphon the mead into sanitized bottles and seal. (You can use swing tops, screw-tops, bottle caps, or corks.)
Flavors mellow considerably with every month that the mead sits in the bottle.