20 April 2010
I found an easy recipe for making mead at StormTheCastle.com and figured I'd give it a shot. I made a list of ingredients, went to the store and was out in less than 15 minutes with everything I needed. Here is the list of ingredients the recipe called for:
1 Gal. Spring Water
3 lbs Honey, unprocessed
Box of Raisins
Fleischmann's Yeast 1/4 oz Envelope
Here's what I used:
1 Gal Spring Water
3 lbs 8 ozs of Grad A, Pure Clover honey, Kroger brand. I have no idea if it's "processed," it didn't say on the bottles. 3 lbs 8 ozs because I can't read.
One orange I had rolling around in a drawer in the fridge. I left it out to warm.
Raisins, found in the pantry. Still in box.
Fleishmann's Rapid Rise, Highly Active yeast (I hope this shit don't blow-up).
Bag of balloons. It's amazing what you can find in a grocery store now-a-days.
Campden tablet, 1 ea. Left over from a previous mead batch.
Here's what I did:
1. I put the honey in a bath of warm water to soften it up.
2. I poured half of the spring water into another, almost empty, spring water container I had.
3. Pealed about half the rind off the orange and cut it into wedges small enough to fit through the neck of the plastic jug. I don't know if you were supposed to peal the rind or not so I went half and half on this step.
4. Then I squished all the orange slices (minus half the peal) into the jug.
5. The recipe calls for adding 25 raisins. I added around 30 raisins. Hey, if 25 is good 30 must be better, right. The raisins are for yeast food and are not supposed to impart any flavor.
6. I took the 3 lbs of honey out of the sink and poured it into the jug. I added a little spring water to the honey bottles and shook them to get the last bit dissolved, and poured it into the jug. Actually, I added 3 lbs and 8 ozs of honey because I didn't notice, until later, the larger bottle was 2 lbs 8 ozs, not an even 2 lbs. Whatcha gonna do? Scoop it out?
7. I put the cap on the jug and shook it for a couple minutes to mix ingredients. (Try that, it's quite the workout)
8. Though the recipe doesn't call for it I crushed up one Campden tablet I had left over from a previous batch and added it to the jug. The Campden is supposed to kill bacteria and wild yeasts.
9. Then I shook it some more to mix in the Campden powder. (Feel the burn).
10. With the addition of the Campden I needed to let the mixture sit for 24 hours while it sanitized the liquid. If I added the yeast now the Campden would kill it, too.
And here it sits. Water, honey, one orange, 30 or so raisins, and one Campden tablet. Tomorrow I'll add the yeast and top it off with a balloon.
Note: if you don’t use/have a Campden tablet you will need to clean everything best you can. I would as a minimum rinse the orange and raisins and sanitize any utensils you use. I think this recipe is pretty forgiving and you should be fine, just be aware and keep the area clean.
21 April 2010
Well, it’s been 25 hours; time to add the yeast. Following the instructions on the rapid rise, fast acting yeast packet, I warmed a few ounces of water to between 120 and 130*. This wasn’t exact because I don’t have the proper thermometer for the job (gotta pick one up). I used my calibrated finger (cleaned). I added the yeast to the water and let it sit for 10 minutes.
While waiting for the yeast to come alive I added less than a quarter teaspoon of yeast energizer to the jug and shook it up. I didn’t want to add too much energizer because I’m already over budget on raisins and honey, and I’m using super yeast. I don’t want the stuff to ‘splode.
The water temperature must have been close because the yeast seemed to like it. After the 10 minute wait I pitched the yeast into the jug, put the cap on, and shook it for what seemed like an hour, but only turned out to be 5 minutes. Did I mention that’s quite the workout?
After snapping the balloon on my finger three or four times I managed to stretch it over the neck of the jug. At the last minute I scurried around looking for a pin and poked through the balloon 3 times. It felt good. Revenge for snapping my finger. Look, it’s a jug with a balloon on it.
Next time I’m going to use funny shaped balloons.
After only 3 hours the balloon is inflated and it’s bubbling nicely.
Here’s an action packed video of fermentation in progress;
Note: I didn’t take any kind of hydrometer readings – on purpose. This batch is going to be all about making a good mead as simply as possible. Taste will be the final judge and alcohol content be damned. Though, with all the honey, raisins, and yeast foods I added I have a feeling the super yeast is going to kick ass.
9 May 2010
It's been 3 weeks and the balloon finally deflated - time to rack it to a secondary container and get the Mead off the cake of lees that has developed. I bought some fancy 1 gallon glass jugs so I'm going to put one to use.
The first thing to do was sanitize the gallon jug, racking cane, hose, and new balloon. I then pulled the balloon off the plastic jug, inserted the cane - being carefull not to disturb the lees on the bottom, and started the siphon to the glass jug.
I learned a new technique for siphoning; fill the hose with water, carefully slip it on the end of the cane, lower the end of the hose and let the water drain into a separate bucket. The draining water will suck the mead out of the container and down the hose. Once the water is out transfer the hose to the jug. It makes a little mess so I wouldn't do it over a rug.
A quick note about racking at this point. You want to keep airation to a minimum so just pouring the mead into the jug using a funnel is not the best approach. I kept the hose at the bottom of the jug which minimized agitation and formation of air bubbles.
Here it is, racked and with a new balloon. The balloon is just in case there is some residual fermentation going on. Now it's just a matter of waiting 4 to 6 months while it clarifies. I'll be putting it on a shelf, covering it to protect it from light, and trying not to mess with it. The hardest part will be trying not to mess with it.
As you can see it is still cloudy but as it ages it should clear and in a few months I will be racking it one final time into wine bottles. At that point I will probably sample one bottle and put the other 3 away to age for a few more months.
But what of the orange that was left behind, you ask? Well, here it is:
You know I tried them. First I tried an orange right out of the lees floating around the bottom. It was a little bitter but you could taste the alcohol. Not the best thing I've ever ate, but not the worst, either. I wouldn't doubt that in some part of the world it's considered a delicacy. I then rinsed them (what you see in the picture above) and tried them again. Not as bitter and actually kind of bland. Same went for the raisins. In the end I didn't consider them worth my time and chucked them down the garbage disposal.
So , now we wait.
14 May 2010
Here it is after settling for 5 days. I think I'm going to rack it again in a few days just to get it off the cake of lees.
Just a little more and I'll have enough for the urine convention.
4 June 2010
The orange mead project is progressing nicely. All I've done since the last post was rack it one more time to get it off the lees. It has just sat on a shelf with a towel wrapped around it to keep it out of the light. The balloon has been limp for a couple weeks so it should be done fermenting. Also, it has cleared up nicely without adding any accelerators such as bentonite.
Here is a picture before I bottled it.