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ixi
02-22-2017, 08:39 AM
Hey all!

So I've made the leap and grabbed myself a kit for making mead.

My dilemma is this:

I have
1 x 1 gallon (Imperial) demijohn
1 x 1.36KG bottle of honey
1 x pack of "super yeast"
1 x auto-siphon
1 x hydrometer
a shittonne of steriliser
and a few other bits and bobs

The guide that came with the kit says to use raisins and an orange in the recipe,
but I'm a special snowflake and determined to forge my own path.
I'd quite like to make a mead with vanilla, some strawberries and maybe half of a lemon.

I'm mainly curious as to if this would be a viable recipe.

My plan for going ahead with this would be to use the vanilla in primary,
then use the strawberries and lemon in secondary and hopefully end up w/ a sweet mead.
Should this work?

I'm also open for suggestions as to some recipes to try out;
This is mainly meant to be an Xmas present to family (and to myself :p )
so I would quite like it to taste as nice as possible.

Dadux
02-22-2017, 09:23 AM
Welcome to the forums, ixi
First things first. You seem to have the right atritude towards meadmaking and you did well asking for advice.
For future post I'd recommend using the metrical sistem or the US system (so use us gallons and pounds or kilos and litres). Anything else is jusr a bit confusing :rolleyes:
You also had the good mind of planning ahead, asking first and preparing your mead some months in advance.
The recipe that probably comes in your kit is similar to another called a JAOM and you can find it searching in thid forum. It is a recommended first mead but you can of course go your own way.
A mead with fruit is called a melomel, and a mead with spices is called a metheglin. Yours would fit more in the melomel category and you can find more info in this forum about them.
Before getting into your recipe I'd recommend you saving yourself some trouble and getting aquainted with some common terms such as primary, secondary, racking, SNA, nutrients, SG, FG and others. Most of the stuff you need to know is described in the newbee guide in the gotmead page. You'd do good reading it before getting started and consulting any doubts you had.

Now to the recipe. What you want is doable albeit a bit complicated. Strawberry mead is a tasty one. In melomels you can add your fruit at the start, so it gets fermented. This gets the mead a wine-y taste since the fruit gets fermented. You can also add it after fermentation, which is better if you want your mead to have a true strawberry flavour. So tell us what you are going for. The ammounts used vary from 100g of strawberries/L to 500g/L, depending on how much flavour you want.
The vanilla is added in secondary, nearly always. If added in primary, the vainillin will get eated by the yeast and you will get no real flavour (or not as much and vanilla is expensive). Usually you add 1 vanilla bean per 4-5 L of mead if you want a good flavour. You can add less for a more subtle touch, or more if you want a really strong one.
The lemon is also added in secondary. Usually you only add the juice and zest (not the white part between them, called pith, since this part is bitter). The acidity of the lemon complements the mead and it gives a nice touch but you wont probably taste "lemon". You really dont need the lemon i think, but if you want to, you can add the juice and zest of half lemon. Keep in mind you can always add more

What i see lacking in your kit is the yeast nutrients. You should adquire some if you pretend to do mead. Go to a nearby homebrew store and ask for it. Commercial brands are Fermaid K, Fermaid O, Wyeast nutrient, Superfood/Superfood Plus, tronozymol. Those are themost common ones. Since you are from scotland, you can probably find tronozymol easily (the fermaid brand is more popular but sells mostly in america), but any of those will do just fine. One reason the JAOM recipe is recommended for first timers is because it uses fruits (raisins and oranges) as nutrients, and it uses bakers yeast. But for this mead you plan, having nutrients wouls be ideal.

Once we get this things sorted out and you tell us how you would want your future melomel to taste, we can help you further.
Hope this was helpful. Feel free to ask anything, the comunity is pretty friendly.

ixi
02-22-2017, 10:12 AM
Now to the recipe. What you want is doable albeit a bit complicated. Strawberry mead is a tasty one. In melomels you can add your fruit at the start, so it gets fermented. This gets the mead a wine-y taste since the fruit gets fermented. You can also add it after fermentation, which is better if you want your mead to have a true strawberry flavour. So tell us what you are going for. The ammounts used vary from 100g of strawberries/L to 500g/L, depending on how much flavour you want.
The vanilla is added in secondary, nearly always. If added in primary, the vainillin will get eated by the yeast and you will get no real flavour (or not as much and vanilla is expensive). Usually you add 1 vanilla bean per 4-5 L of mead if you want a good flavour. You can add less for a more subtle touch, or more if you want a really strong one.
The lemon is also added in secondary. Usually you only add the juice and zest (not the white part between them, called pith, since this part is bitter). The acidity of the lemon complements the mead and it gives a nice touch but you wont probably taste "lemon". You really dont need the lemon i think, but if you want to, you can add the juice and zest of half lemon. Keep in mind you can always add more

What i see lacking in your kit is the yeast nutrients. You should adquire some if you pretend to do mead. Go to a nearby homebrew store and ask for it. Commercial brands are Fermaid K, Fermaid O, Wyeast nutrient, Superfood/Superfood Plus, tronozymol. Those are themost common ones. Since you are from scotland, you can probably find tronozymol easily (the fermaid brand is more popular but sells mostly in america), but any of those will do just fine. One reason the JAOM recipe is recommended for first timers is because it uses fruits (raisins and oranges) as nutrients, and it uses bakers yeast. But for this mead you plan, having nutrients wouls be ideal.


Hey!

I'm mainly looking for a sweet mead, with a moderate strawberry taste, with an undertone of vanilla.
So i'd be better off just fermenting the honey alone with some nutrient and adding everything in secondary?
I also read about staggered nutrient additions, would this be a better idea than just dumping it all in at once?

bernardsmith
02-22-2017, 10:45 AM
Hi ixi - and welcome. You're in Scotland? I am an ex-pat. Born and raised in Glasgow but went to live in Aberdeen as a graduate student (many , many moons ago).
A quick comment - others may not agree - but strawberries are very thin in flavor. I occasionally make strawberry wine and I find I need about 5 kilo of the berries to make a gallon. This is because if you take fruit (juice) and add water , the more water you add the more you dilute the flavor. If that's not a problem for you then OK..
To get the most juice most easily from berries you freeze the berries. The freezing damages the cells and so when the fruit thaws you get a great deal of juice with very little or no work. So one thing you MIGHT consider is using the juice from the berries in place of ANY water to dilute the honey..
I agree with Dadux about the lemon. Here's why. Adding acidity when it is not necessary is like someone adding salt to a dish brought to the table before they have tasted it... We used to do that automatically in Glasgow. The point is to taste your mead.. (you should be tasting it routinely as it ferments and ages. Certainly won't do you any harm and understanding how the taste changes as the process progresses is really useful. If just before you intend to bottle the mead it tastes as if it still needs a kick then is the time to increase the acidic bite.. but if it does not need it why add more acidity?
Last point. You mention that you want a sweet mead. One way to do this is to allow all the sugars in the honey to be fermented dry, then as the mead ages you remove the yeast cells by cold stabilization and racking and then you chemically stabilize by adding K-meta and K-sorbate (in tandem). These two chemicals in your mead in the presence of very few viable yeast cells (VERY FEW) will prevent any refermentation so you can then add sweeteners (more honey, sugar, agave syrup, maple syrup etc etc) and that added sugar will not be converted to alcohol.

Dadux
02-22-2017, 11:40 AM
Seeing what you want, couple of tips
I once did a strawberry mead so I can tell you, there are a couple of tricky things. to get a good strawberry flavour I recomend at least 1kg of strawberries. 1.5 would be ideal for a good strong flavour. Freezing and thawing them is the most common and best way to do this, but you can add them fresh too. Take out the leaves and most of the white stuff on them, then freeze and thaw or add directly. When adding them you would want to put them in a wool bag/mesh bag. After a few days they just fall apart, leaving you with a shittone of particles that take a lot to clear and soak a lot of mead, so thats why you want a bag. You can maybe use some you have in your house or brewstores usually sell some for hops i think.
I belive you should do what bernardsmith recomends. search and read about "stabilizing" wines and mead. this is done with sulphites and sorbate. The ideal way to do this is ferment the honey, rack (transfering the mead from one container to another after fermentation is done, leaving the yeast at the bottom since they sediment. For this step you will want to buy another Demijhon or bucket to transfer your fermented mead to) a few times, and when its nearly free of yeast, stabilize and then add some more honey to get you the desired sweetness and the strawberries. Those are left for a few days until the start to lose colour. Then you take them out and add one vanilla bean (split open). You will at some point need to rack again and then you can bottle.

About your recipe, i saw 1 imperieal galon is 4.5L. with 1.36kg of honey you will get a mead with around 12% ABV, and some 5-6 wine bottles if everything goes well. I recomend you buy another Kg of honey (preferably raw, unheated honey). If you want a higher ABV you can add a bit more honey, but you will need the honey after fermentation is done to get it sweet (this is called backsweetening)
About the nutrients, yes. You need to use them in meads because honey is very deficient in nutrients (for example nitrogen) compared to wines. Honey is 80-85% sugar and grapes have less sugar but more organic matter the yeast use to feed.
One more thing. this so called super yeast, what does the pack say? what is its weight? does it say what is its maximum ABV? Im asuming its dry yeast, if so, read about rehydrating it. You need to rehydrate it before pitching it into the must (the honey-water mix)

Squatchy
02-22-2017, 01:07 PM
I would like to say I think you would maybe do better with a wine yeast. I have a hunch your yeast might be for distillers and won't give you the best nuances for mead.

ixi
02-22-2017, 01:49 PM
Hi ixi - and welcome. You're in Scotland? I am an ex-pat. Born and raised in Glasgow but went to live in Aberdeen as a graduate student (many , many moons ago).
A quick comment - others may not agree - but strawberries are very thin in flavor. I occasionally make strawberry wine and I find I need about 5 kilo of the berries to make a gallon. This is because if you take fruit (juice) and add water , the more water you add the more you dilute the flavor. If that's not a problem for you then OK..
To get the most juice most easily from berries you freeze the berries. The freezing damages the cells and so when the fruit thaws you get a great deal of juice with very little or no work. So one thing you MIGHT consider is using the juice from the berries in place of ANY water to dilute the honey..
I agree with Dadux about the lemon. Here's why. Adding acidity when it is not necessary is like someone adding salt to a dish brought to the table before they have tasted it... We used to do that automatically in Glasgow. The point is to taste your mead.. (you should be tasting it routinely as it ferments and ages. Certainly won't do you any harm and understanding how the taste changes as the process progresses is really useful. If just before you intend to bottle the mead it tastes as if it still needs a kick then is the time to increase the acidic bite.. but if it does not need it why add more acidity?
Last point. You mention that you want a sweet mead. One way to do this is to allow all the sugars in the honey to be fermented dry, then as the mead ages you remove the yeast cells by cold stabilization and racking and then you chemically stabilize by adding K-meta and K-sorbate (in tandem). These two chemicals in your mead in the presence of very few viable yeast cells (VERY FEW) will prevent any refermentation so you can then add sweeteners (more honey, sugar, agave syrup, maple syrup etc etc) and that added sugar will not be converted to alcohol.

I gotchya, lots of strawberries. I'm also a weegie myself, grew up around Drumchapel and Johnstone :)


Seeing what you want, couple of tips
I once did a strawberry mead so I can tell you, there are a couple of tricky things. to get a good strawberry flavour I recomend at least 1kg of strawberries. 1.5 would be ideal for a good strong flavour. Freezing and thawing them is the most common and best way to do this, but you can add them fresh too. Take out the leaves and most of the white stuff on them, then freeze and thaw or add directly. When adding them you would want to put them in a wool bag/mesh bag. After a few days they just fall apart, leaving you with a shittone of particles that take a lot to clear and soak a lot of mead, so thats why you want

a bag. You can maybe use some you have in your house or brewstores usually sell some for hops i think.
I belive you should do what bernardsmith recomends. search and read about "stabilizing" wines and mead. this is done with sulphites and sorbate. The ideal way to do this is ferment the honey, rack (transfering the mead from one container to another after fermentation is done, leaving the yeast at the bottom since they sediment. For this step you will want to buy another Demijhon or bucket to transfer your fermented mead to) a few times, and when its nearly free of yeast, stabilize and then add some more honey to get you the desired sweetness and the strawberries. Those are left for a few days until the start to lose colour. Then you take them out and add one vanilla bean (split open). You will at some point need to rack again and then you can bottle.

About your recipe, i saw 1 imperieal galon is 4.5L. with 1.36kg of honey you will get a mead with around 12% ABV, and some 5-6 wine bottles if everything goes well. I recomend you buy another Kg of honey (preferably raw, unheated honey). If you want a higher ABV you can add a bit more honey, but you will need the honey after fermentation is done to get it sweet (this is called backsweetening)
About the nutrients, yes. You need to use them in meads because honey is very deficient in nutrients (for example nitrogen) compared to wines. Honey is 80-85% sugar and grapes have less sugar but more organic matter the yeast use to feed.
One more thing. this so called super yeast, what does the pack say? what is its weight? does it say what is its maximum ABV? Im asuming its dry yeast, if so, read about rehydrating it. You need to rehydrate it before pitching it into the must (the honey-water mix)

It literally just says "Super Yeast", and that the pack is good for 5-25L
I was thinking about ditching that in favour for some D47, but I keep my house around the lower threshold of that strain so I'm not sure if i should.
Thanks for the nutrient suggestions!



I would like to say I think you would maybe do better with a wine yeast. I have a hunch your yeast might be for distillers and won't give you the best nuances for mead.
it came with the kit, so I'd assume it'd work just fine, but as I said above, even before I bought this I was considering using some D47 w/ some added nutrient


A question though;
Once i have made the must, how long should I wait before racking?
I've heard mixed statements between 2 weeks and a month, just wanting some input

Dadux
02-22-2017, 02:04 PM
The D47 thing would be the best approach. If your temps are on the low side of what it can handle, even better. Yeast usually give more aromas and flavours if fermenting cool.
The must is the unfermented mead. You rack after the fermentation is over. That usually takes 2-3 weeks, but it can vary on a number of factors. Once the ferment is over though, it is recomended to keep the mead in the primary container, shaking it a bit once a day/couple of days. This is called rousing the lees. The lees are the sediment made from the dead yeast. Doing this for 2-4 weeks after it finishes fermenting is recomended as it helps the mead mature a bit, refine the flavour, and makes it easier to rack after. Once that time passes, you let your mead sit for 1 week or so, without touching it so everything sediments and then rack it.
So from pitch to rack 1 and 2 months. Since you want this for christmas you wont have time problems, and I'd recommend not rushing it. If you do this, you might only need to rack once before stabilizing.

ixi
02-22-2017, 03:07 PM
The D47 thing would be the best approach. If your temps are on the low side of what it can handle, even better. Yeast usually give more aromas and flavours if fermenting cool.
The must is the unfermented mead. You rack after the fermentation is over. That usually takes 2-3 weeks, but it can vary on a number of factors. Once the ferment is over though, it is recomended to keep the mead in the primary container, shaking it a bit once a day/couple of days. This is called rousing the lees. The lees are the sediment made from the dead yeast. Doing this for 2-4 weeks after it finishes fermenting is recomended as it helps the mead mature a bit, refine the flavour, and makes it easier to rack after. Once that time passes, you let your mead sit for 1 week or so, without touching it so everything sediments and then rack it.
So from pitch to rack 1 and 2 months. Since you want this for christmas you wont have time problems, and I'd recommend not rushing it. If you do this, you might only need to rack once before stabilizing.

No rush, just wanting to know everything in advance :)

I'll head on over to the only semi-local place that does homebrew stuff, see if i can't pick up some D47 and nutrient there. If not it's off to ebay land for me.

Drewed
02-22-2017, 04:25 PM
I would also pick up a 2 gallon bucket to use a s a primary fermenter. After making a few 1 gallon batches, I'm finding that by the time I get done racking, I'm down to about 3/4 ( or less!) in the one gallon carboy. This leaves way to much head space. From now on, I will be making gallon and a half/ gallon 3/4 batches so I have a full gallon in the secondary. OR I'll put on my big boy pants and just make 5 gallons.....

About the "shittone" of strawberries, I also agree with the comment about bagging them. I have read that if you keep the seeds in the mead for too long the seeds can give an off flavor. Now if you have some off-spring floating around that you would like to keep out of trouble, or perhaps because they are in trouble, you could have them seed the strawberries.....

Dadux
02-22-2017, 06:35 PM
Naaaaaah the seeds are ok. They give a really really bitter flavour but only if they break. Thats why strawberries are not pureed or mashed or juiced or any of that like its done in jam.
Also the FAQ has a guide in fruit additions to secondary that includes strawberry. You might be interested. The racking thing is true but if you are careful you can avoid big losses. I never lose more than 10% of the initial in the 2-3 times i rack and the bottling, but maybe with buckets its easier.

ixi
02-22-2017, 07:02 PM
Naaaaaah the seeds are ok. They give a really really bitter flavour but only if they break. Thats why strawberries are not pureed or mashed or juiced or any of that like its done in jam.
Also the FAQ has a guide in fruit additions to secondary that includes strawberry. You might be interested. The racking thing is true but if you are careful you can avoid big losses. I never lose more than 10% of the initial in the 2-3 times i rack and the bottling, but maybe with buckets its easier.

I'll have a look at that, thanks!