Saturday, October 15, 2005

Basic Melomel Recipe

Due to popular interest (Jonah), here is my basic recipe for Melomel:

Start heating a couple of cups of water until it can dissolve about 3 Tbsp sugar. Allow it to cool to about 100F (warm but comfortable to the touch). Add 1 packet dry yeast and stir well. Set aside.

In a big pot, boil water and 5 lbs of fruit, or a few quarts of berries...or a decent amount of whatever you are meading. With juicy, sugary fruits you don't need as much. With drier, tarter fruits, you need more. Boil, boil. Take a potato masher and mash while boiling. Sometimes I freeze the fruit in lieu of boiling. Both methods seem to work well.

Anyway, once the kitchen smells good, it is time to turn the burner off and begin mixing the honey. As a general rule, the more honey, the more sweetness and alcohol. If you use 10-15 lbs, you'll get a dry mead with little residual sweetness, and an alcohol of about 12%, depending on the yeast. If you use 15-20 lbs and a good yeast, you'll get closer to 16-17% and a sweeter mead. The best I have made so far topped out at 19% and was still pretty sweet. So if you like sweet, don't skimp on the honey. I tend to prefer too much honey over too little.

With the heat off, stir in about 5 lbs of honey. Then another 5. Then, if it is still not too thick, another and another, keeping it warm enough to keep the mixture very fluid. As I said, you need a big pot. If you don't have one big enough, mix what you can in the biggest pot you have and then dump the whole mess into a 5 gallon bucket. Add the rest of the honey and stir well.

Add a couple of gallons of water, and check the temperature. If it is still too hot to be comfortable to your hand (above about 103) it will be uncomfortable to the yeast, add more water. If it gets too cool (close to body temperature) add warm water instead of cold. Once you have gotten the temp down to a nice level and filled it to the 5 gal level, add the yeasted water.

Stir, stir, stir.

Make sure there is plenty of air in there. If you have a big straw, blow some bubbles. Or use an egg beater. Then put the lid on and put the air lock in. In about 3-6 hours that sucker should be bubbling like mad. If not, wait about 12 and add more pre-mixed yeast. Let it go for at least 3 weeks, then rack it to the carboy, straining out the fruit goo that has settled to the bottom.

Let it sit in the carboy for about 3 months. When the bubbling has slowed to almost nothing, carefully rack to another carboy, throwing away the sediment (or lees). Let it sit a couple more months. By this time it should be clear (not foggy) but if there are still some suspended particles, sprinkle some gelatin in and let it sit for about a week.

Rack, bottle and enjoy!

No comments: