Starter mead recipe:[edit | edit source]
Ingredients[edit | edit source]
3 pounds of honey per gallon (U.S.). (For example, 15 pounds of honey are used with a 5 gallon (U.S.) carboy.) 1 pound of raisins.(optional) 1 packet of dry winemaker's yeast EC1118 or similar as well as yeast nutrient.
Some vintners prefer to create a starter culture by preparing a mixture of one cup of room temperature sanitized fruit juice and the freeze dried winemaking yeast and placing it into a smaller one quart sanitized container fitted with a rubber stopper and airlock for a day or two until the mixture is bubbling. This container is kept at room temperature out of direct sunlight. This starter culture will cause the fermentation below to begin with vigor and may prevent the mead from failing to ferment.
Preparing the liquid[edit | edit source]
Honey is slowly added to a large pot half-full with water while heating. There is a common disagreement among mead makers as to whether you should boil the honey or not; mead makers have had success with either method. Boiling will alter the flavor, but will enhance the clarity of the finished mead. As the mead is heated over medium heat, it will just start to boil after the impurities have been cleared, as pure liquids boil at a lower temperature.
Fermenting[edit | edit source]
After a time of heating the honey (which helps it dissolve and can also pasteurize it), the mixture is cooled to between (170°F/76°C) and (140°F/60°C) and the raisins are added. The mixture continues to cool, then is transferred to the carboy. Once it has cooled to room temperature (68°F/20°C), yeast which has been rehydrated is added to the honey/water mixture (must) and the airlock is put on. After being placed in a cool (68°F/20°C), dark place for a few hours or a day, the airlock should start to allow bubbles to escape. This is waste carbon dioxide (CO2) and shows that the yeast is processing the sugar into alcohol. The raisins rise to the surface of the fermenting mixture. If they block the airlock, the mead maker will have to rack. Stirring or agitating the mixture is avoided, as it may cause the liquid to rise up and spill out of the airlock.
Racking[edit | edit source]
After a two to three week period the mead maker may want to rack the mead into a second sanitized carboy. An airlock is not necessary during primary (aerobic) fermentation. This racking will clear out the lees and allow the mead to clear faster. The mead is siphoned into the second carboy via a sanitized tube, usually filled it with sterile water to start the siphon. The mead is siphoned carefully to avoid splashing as excess oxygen at this point may cause an unpleasant taste in the final product. An airlock is placed on the second carboy. It is imperative that sterile conditions be maintained while the carboys are open to avoid infection. The mead is racked every two weeks until all signs of fermentation have stopped (usually when the airlock doesn't produce any bubbles for a long period of time—typically over 30 seconds between bubbles) and your mead has cleared. The carboy is clear enough when it is possible to read a newspaper through it.
Bottling[edit | edit source]
Then next step is to bottle the mead. Mead is generally sealed in sanitized bottles using airtight caps or quality corks. If the fermentation is not complete, pressure will build up inside the sealed bottles and cause them to explode. Mead is generally aged for at least 6 months in the bottle before drinking.
Variations[edit | edit source]
In addition to the basic mead recipe, it is possible to enrich the flavour by adding spices, or using different sorts of honey. Some honeys can actually have a far less sweet flavour, although they still ferment just as well, and honeycomb can also be added so long as it is filtered out at the end of fermentation.