We have been intending to make mead for so long that it had become something of a joke. “I’ll get to that right after we make mead.”
Then this past summer whilst cleaning the basement we realized we had nearly 14 pounds of honey … and that it was six years old.
Coincidentally, we had recently picked a large amount of elderberries. Sarah had originally intended to use the elderberries to dye yarn, and her mother, Nancy, intended to make a medicinal syrup, but they had so many elderberries they were looking for other options.
Time to make the mead… and a melomel.
The recipe below used approximately 13.5 pounds of honey; in our case, Tunbridge World’s Fair blue-ribbon-award winning honey we got from our friend and neighbor, Chuck, which we did not want to go to waste.
- 13.5 pounds honey
- Water – enough to bring the total liquid to 5 gallons
- Yeast – Two packets of Lalvin ICV – D-47 White Wine Yeast
- Dry Yeast Nutrient
- 5-6 cups of elderberries (optional)
In a large kettle dissolve the honey in warm water. We decided to bring the honey water up to about 160ºF with the idea that this would make sure that the yeast we chose could flourish over any natural yeasts. I have no idea if this is the case or not. The downside to this method is that it took hours to bring the honey water back down to a temperature safe enough to pitch the yeast.
We collected our honey water in a 5-gallon glass carboy, and pitched the yeast slurry — and 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient — at around 78ºF and then added the airlock.
In 30 days or so, we will separate and rack the mead to two separate vessels. Half will remain the original, simple mead with nothing else added.
The other half will be racked on top of the elderberry juice making it a melomel. To make the juice, boil the elderberries in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes, then allow to cool slightly. Strain through a very fine mesh sieve or several layers of cheese cloth before adding it to the mead. This cooking and straining process is important so that you remove the toxins from the raw berries.
Both the mead and the melomel will get another round of yeast nutrient. Then we’ll move them to a quite spot in the basement for at least 9 months. Our plan is to then bottle the beverages, and taste our way through the mead and melomel to see when they truly peak.