I received a lovely comment yesterday from Alicia over at Boozed + Infused (try her recipe for Caramel Apple Liqueur!), and it reminded me that I haven’t posted a mead recipe yet.
There is a very good reason for this.
Every mead recipe I have seen is so complicated that my head starts to hurt and I have to go lie down for a while.
Mead is a delicious wine brewed from honey.
The problem is that most mead recipes call for a lot of special equipment including an airlock and a glass carboy. (My head is starting to hurt already…)
I figured there had to be an easier way. After all, people have been making mead for thousands of years.
I finally located a recipe that doesn’t require special equipment and is almost easy to make. If I start today, I can have four bottles of mead ready by next Easter!
1 Gallon of Spring Water (room temperature, do not get refrigerated)
3 pounds of honey – pure unprocessed
1 bag of balloons that are big enough to stretch over the mouth of the spring water jug
1 package of Fleischmann’s Yeast
1 box of raisins
If you would like to add a bit of spice to this recipe, you can add 1 or 2 cloves. But be careful, they are very strong so don’t put more than 2.
How to make the Mead
Pour about half of the water into a clean container then slice up your orange into eighths and put the slices, honey, twenty-five raisins, and the yeast into the jug. Pour some water back into the jug so the level is a couple of inches from the top then put the cap on it and shake it up well. If you can, you should shake it for a good five minutes. This will aerate the mixture. The yeast really needs lots of oxygen to grow vigorously.
Now poke a pinhole in the top of the balloon, remove the cap from your jug and put the balloon right over the mouth of the jug. Stretch the open end of the balloon right over the jug so that as the gases form inside the jug they will inflate the balloon. Put a rubber band or tape around the neck to keep it firmly in place -if it feels like it might come off. Leave it out on a counter for the first day so you can monitor it.
Somewhere between an hour and twenty-four hours later the balloon will start to inflate. This is a great sign. It means that your yeast is transforming the contents of the jug into wine. Gases are forming inside the jug and are escaping through the pinhole. This setup insures gases escape but no contaminants get into your brew.
If the balloon is getting big you may need to poke another hole or two in it. You don’t want it to burst. It would leave your mead open to contamination. Once you are satisfied that the gases are escaping and the balloon is not under unusual stress you can set the jug in a cool dry place like a kitchen cabinet or closet shelf. Check on it every day if you can just to make sure it is okay and the balloon hasn’t popped off. If the balloon starts to age, just replace it with another balloon.
After two to three weeks, most of the fermentation will be done and the balloon will be limp. At this point you can taste a little bit to see how it is coming along but it isn’t really a tasty wine at this point.
It will need another couple of months to start to get delicious. (At this point in the recipe, I had to lie down for a few minutes…)
Over time, as you check on it you will notice that the cloudiness disappears and it slowly clarifies and transforms into wine.
The orange and the raisins can stay in the mixture for the whole duration, but if you want to make the mead a little milder and help it clarify faster, you can transfer the liquid into another clean gallon jug and place the balloon on that one. This would be after the two to three week fermentation period is over. This process is called racking and it will move your mead along nicely.
You can make the honey easier to pour by letting it stand in a sink or bowl of warm water. And you can experiment with the flavor a bit by adding a cinnamon stick or a pinch of nutmeg to the batch when you add the orange. Don’t leave out the raisins. They are not there for taste. They are a necessary food for the yeast because honey is a bit low in the nutrients that yeast like. If the honey is a bit expensive you can cut this down to two pounds. Any quantity between two and three and a half pounds will work well, and the more honey you put the sweeter the mead will be. But the more honey you put the longer it will take to mature.
Be patient and taste your mead every few weeks. It should be really clear and delicious after a few months. It will continue to age and improve over a long period of time so the longer you wait, the better it will get. Try to wait six months if you can!
If you are struggling with waiting, then you should probably make another batch. (Or buy some at the liquor store…)