Old School Mead Recipe

Can you make good mead with this (and honey)?

Yesterday, I posted a mead recipe for first time mead makers. The recipe was designed to not only yield great mead, but also have a high probability of success. Part of the likelihood of success would be due to taking into consideration some of the newest ideas in mead making — the potassium levels of the mead, the pH and using staggered nutrient additions to help the fermentation along.

Today, I present a somewhat different type of mead recipe. This has been floating around the internet for some time, and quite a few people have been tried it and liked it. It may seem a bit “rustic” to advanced homebrewers or mead makers, but I’d just like to point out a few things before leaving it up to you to decide on the merits of this recipe.

Oranges are relatively high in potassium. Raisins are also fairly high in potassium. The combination of raisins and spices is going to add a small amount of tannins. (And in wine, tannins lend “structure.”) Fleishmann’s yeast is going to drop out early and leave a sweet mead. In wine, sweetness is balanced by acidity and oranges are loaded with citric acid. And finally, others have hit on the same combination of ingredients, more or less (although it’s possible that both of these draw from an older source). In any case, presented for your consideration, here’s Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead.

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead

An “ancient” mead recipe that is simple to make, uses only easily obtainable ingredients and reputedly turns out great. The mead turns out clear and sweet and is flavored with oranges and spices.

INGREDIENTS (for 1 gallon)

Honey and Fruit (for an OG of 1.112)

1 pinch all-spice (optional)

Yeast (for an FG of 1.130 and 11% ABV)

Fleishmann’s bread yeast

Sanitize a 1-gallon jug, preferably with a wide mouth. Pour honey into jug. Wash orange, cut into eighths and place pieces (zest, rind, fruit, everything) in jug. Add spices and fill jug, leaving 3 inches of headspace. Put cap on jug and shake. Remove cap and 1 tsp. of bread yeast. Swirl the jug to mix in the yeast and put on an airlock. Keep in a cool place at room temperature (anything 70–80 °F is fine). After a few days of fermentation, when the mixture stops foaming. Add water to top the jug up. Let sit for 2 months. Don’t rack the mead, feed the yeast or do anything during this period. Once the mead falls clear, it is ready. Bottle — without adding corn sugar for carbonation, as you would in a beer — and enjoy.

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead

1 pinch all-spice (optional)

Yeast (for an FG of 1.130 and 11% ABV)

Fleishmann’s bread yeast

Sanitize a 3.8-L jug, preferably with a wide mouth. Pour honey into jug. Wash orange, cut into eighths and place pieces (zest, rind, fruit, everything) in jug. Add spices and fill jug, leaving 8 cm of headspace. Put cap on jug and shake. Remove cap and 1 tsp. of bread yeast. Swirl the jug to mix in the yeast and put on an airlock. Keep in a cool place at room temperature (anything 21–27 °C is fine). After a few days of fermentation, when the mixture stops foaming. Add water to top the jug up. Let sit for 2 months. Don’t rack the mead, feed the yeast or do anything during this period. Once the mead falls clear, it is ready. Bottle — without adding corn sugar for carbonation, as you would in a beer — and enjoy.