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sima74
06-05-2010, 02:32 AM
Ok, so my dad is a beekeeper in Wyoming and always sends me home each year with a gallon jar of Honey that just sits because I can't eat that much in a year. I give some away and people love it (light alfalfa/sweet clover honey) but still end up with surplus. He had a local man making mead and something clicked lately that I should make mead. SO this is a newbee going nutz an really liking it.

I went online and found another site that said "try this recipe for an easy to make mead that you can get everything in your local grocery store". After being here, the recipe was almost the same as JAO in the NewBee section. So... I got ingredients. It was recommended in that one to make everything in the spring water jug that you were displacing the water from. Not even a glass jar.

I made 6 (I get out of control when I find I want to do something) different kinds. I'll post the recipes and then my question:

Orange Spice

3/4 gallon water (or enough to make gallon with a little headroom)
1 quart of the family honey
1 Orange
1 box raisins
1 packet Fleischmans yeast
1 cinnamon stick
2 allspice seeds
1 pinch nutmeg
1 whole clove


No boil, no heat, just mixed it all up after removing some water and then added water back after the shakeup to oxygenate and put on a balloon with a hole punched in it for an airlock.

Strawberry Ginger

3/4 gallon water (or enough to make gallon with a little headroom)
1 quart of the family honey
1 packet Fleischmans yeast
1 box raisins
2-3 oz Ginger root (shredded to a pulp)
1 large box strawberries (approx 3-4 cups)

No boil, no heat, just mixed it all up after removing some water and then added water back after the shakeup to oxygenate and put on a balloon with a hole punched in it for an airlock.

Raspberry Spice

3/4 gallon water (or enough to make gallon with a little headroom)
1 quart of the family honey
1 packet Fleischmans yeast
1 box raisins
1 box Raspberries (approx 2-3 cups) crushed to a pulp
5 allspice seeds

No boil, no heat, just mixed it all up after removing some water and then added water back after the shakeup to oxygenate and put on a balloon with a hole punched in it for an airlock.

Blueberry Pomegranate Spice

3/4 gallon water (or enough to make gallon with a little headroom)
1 quart of the family honey
1 packet Fleischmans yeast
1 box raisins
1 box Blueberries (approx 2 cups) crushed to a pulp
5 cardamom pods (crushed)
16 oz pomegranate juice (so water is less than 3/4 gallon by far)

No boil, no heat, just mixed it all up after removing some water and then added water back after the shakeup to oxygenate and put on a balloon with a hole punched in it for an airlock.

Cyser

1/4 gallon water
1 quart of the family honey
1 packet Fleischmans yeast
1 box raisins
1/ gallon 100% apple juice (no preservatives I checked)

No boil, no heat, just mixed it all up after removing some water and then added water back after the shakeup to oxygenate and put on a balloon with a hole punched in it for an airlock.

Mead

3/4 gallon water (or enough to make gallon with a little headroom)
1 quart of the family honey
1 packet Fleischmans yeast
1 box raisins

No boil, no heat, just mixed it all up after removing some water and then added water back after the shakeup to oxygenate and put on a balloon with a hole punched in it for an airlock.

Raisins in every batch because the originating site said they were necessary for nutrients for the yeast. I am wondering if I should follow the JAO here and let them just sit till clear and hope or if I should rack as the web owner I asked at 4 months and then let it clear and age.

I know I got out of control but I have yet another batch that I've started in a gallon glass jug with a different style (followed mostly [without the hydrometer reading as I didn't have one then]) a recipe in Ken's book sort of.

3/4 gallon water
One quart plus 1/4 quart family honey (the last of it)
On packet Lalvin D47 yeast
One TSP yeast starter
One TSP yeast energizer

1) boiled a quart water for 10 minutes and removed heat
2) added yeast starter and energizer to water and stirred
3) added honey and then used water from the must to dissolve honey from bottles and poured into must
4) Stir honey and water to mix thoroughly
5) put 1 1/2 quarts refrigerated water into gallon jar
6) added hot must on cold water
7) rehydrated yeast in proper temp and then waited 15 min to stir per directions
8) pitched yeast when must was below 80 degrees (it was pretty much already there with the cold water in there to cool the must
9) added water to get to 1 inch below neck
10) shook like a polaroid picture
11) put stopper and airlock in place (water in airlock was sanitized)

I tried to be as sanitary as possible for all of the recipes as it's always been stressed. Now I'm waiting for my annual trip home to reload on honey and have bought the big equipment to give it a try.

Sorry for the long post, but wanted to get this all down. So, should I leave the first 7 alone and let them clarify like JAO or rack into all the 1 gallon glass I procured for this?

The last batch I shared because I'm enamored with it for some reason. Once long ago a beekeeper friend of my father took me to our extracter room and shined a flashlight down into the running extractor. The honey flying to the sides was amazing and he said "look at my liquid gold". I look at the bubbles rising up the side of the gallon glass on the last recipe and get that same feeling all over again. I can't wait to get more honey and finally find something I truly enjoy doing.

Thanks for letting me share and any feedback on any of these is quite welcome.

Medsen Fey
06-05-2010, 08:28 AM
Welcome sima74!!!

There's nothing like jumping in with both feet!

On your orange and spice batch, that recipe is very close to Joe's ancient orange, and usually for that to be balanced you need a 3.5 pounds of honey in a gallon. One quart will probably only be about 3 pounds so it may finish too dry and be a little unbalanced. Don't worry, you can add honey to sweeten it later if you need to.

I think it is neat to try all these recipes with the bread yeast, and to have one traditional with the D47. I'll be interested to hear which you like best after they've had some age.

If you haven't taken a look at the NewBee Guide (see the bar on the left) it is worth reading.

I hope your batches turn out great.

Medsen

Chevette Girl
06-05-2010, 11:22 AM
Hehe, jumping in headfirst, that's a fun way to start! Lots of nice ideas and I like how you varied the spices used as well as fruits. Do let me know how the blueberry-cardamom turns out!

The only caution I'd have (aside from drinking all of this too quickly!) is to be careful mixing hot and cold liquids in glass containers. You're PROBABLY OK but I have had the odd thing shatter in my kitchen and it's not pretty.

I sometimes rack my JAO's after a couple of months and sometimes not. I have no conclusive evidence that it affects the taste, there's only so much more flavour you can suck out of a cinnamon stick or squashed fruit that's already been in the jar for three or four months.

Depending on what kinds of fruits I have floating around, if there's lots of fruit pulp, it usually makes it easier to bottle and I don't run the risk of getting a wayward clove stuck in my bottle filler! And I know the recipe for Joe's says not to touch it at all till you bottle, but after it's had a couple months and the fruit is starting to sink, I like to swirl the jar just a little by twisting it back and forth a few times, it shakes the lees off any floating fruit and also helps get some of the lees that may have settled on the sides of the bottle to fall to the bottom which makes it easier to rack or bottle when the time comes.

Oh, and on the uses of balloons as airlocks: you will probably do better with plastic wrap and an elastic band (snug but not tight). That will keep fruit flies and contaminants out but it will let off pressure from fermentation. Balloons can degrade surprisingly quickly once they're exposed to air, as I discovered in my early winemaking days, please keep a close eye on your balloons to make sure the holes you punched in them don't get any bigger.

Finding water or juice bottles that can take a stopper with an airlock is always a good idea, I found that the #8 stoppers will just stay in the mouth of most of my distilled water jugs. Just don't push them in too hard! :) Sploosh is bad!

And when you do finally bottle it, make sure it's really done fermenting or you may well end up with a very sticky (and potentially dangerous) mess if corks pop out or bottles explode.

If you do find you need to backsweeten, I highly recommend that you stabilize it first so fermentation doesn't start up again, potassium bisulphite/campden tablets and potassium sorbate are inexpensive and should be relatively easy to get ahold of. I don't use them as often as perhaps I should but they're definitely good to have on hand just to be sure. I generally bottle my JAO variations in bottles with removable cork caps or screw caps just so I can check that a batch isn't becoming pressurized.

Happy fermenting!!

sima74
06-05-2010, 12:36 PM
Thanks both for the great feedback! I do appreciate it and am very glad I found a place to share ideas while I get off the ground. I pour over the NewBee guide and the fourms daily now in hopes that by the time I get my new batch of honey I can formulate a good plan.

The recipes are just nearing their 2 week point tomorrow and the Orange seems to be slowing down a bit but the recipe I had said to expect 2-3 weeks and the pressure would be off.

I read in the NewBee guide that the cap can be a problem and there is a large amount of cap on these, would it be good to push it down or just leave it be?

I do have rubber stoppers and airlocks now (and a bunch of glass gallon jars now as well) so I'd be ready to rack if necessary based on advice. I'm guessing the stopper would fit the spring water bottles I used at the time and I could get the baloons off them as I have noticed they are aging fast and I really don't want to risk contamination if one deteriorates off. That's part of the reason I wanted to rack it to the glass as soon as possible and get it out of those other bottles. Maybe I'll do that today and then let them sit a bit longer before I rack them off to the glass.

Thanks again for the feedback!

AToE
06-05-2010, 02:56 PM
Going in headlong is a good way to do it - yes, you'll have some less than great meads, and probably some outright failures, but you'll learn a lot and when they're ready to drink you'll have lots of different tastes to give you ideas for the next round.

wayneb
06-07-2010, 08:46 AM
Sorry for popping in so late with an answer, but yes you should "punch down" the cap several times a day. Leaving it solidly on the surface will both restrict the amount of CO2 that comes out of your mead (that will stress the yeast since too much dissolved CO2 is toxic to them), and leaving the fruit exposed on the surface of the must can give spoilage organisms a chance to take hold. Punching down the cap (which really means carefully stirring and pushing the fruit under the surface), keeps the fruit wetted with the fairly acidic and ever more alcoholic must, and that usually keeps spoilage organisms at bay.

JAO (and variants thereof) are a special case -- generally the orange sections don't need to be punched down -- as Joe recommends, just leave it be.