View Full Version : Ingredients questions

03-31-2006, 02:31 PM
I'm currently fermenting my first batch of mead, allspice and a bourbon vanilla. Iím already thinking about what to use for the next batch. Iím leaning toward a dark honey with Maple syrup and cherry. Here are some questions I have regarding ingredients.

-Maple Syrup- If mixed like honey in the must do I worry about separation over time? If so is it O.K. to stir the must just before bottling?

-Caramel-If you can use Maple Syrup, is caramel ok?

-Cherries- Here in Colorado we get a seasonal cherry, which is good but can be bitter. I have a Vita mixer which I could liquefy the cherries (stems, seeds, skins and all) I would think this would add too much bitterness though. Would it be better to just chop or crush the cherries?

-Irish moss- Iím a fan of scotch so this one intrigues me, I saw this is some old mead recipes, though I donít know where to get it here or what the result would be?

The Honey Farmer
03-31-2006, 02:47 PM
Hey there JSPCLK, I'm in Cortez, where are you?

Dennis 8)

03-31-2006, 02:50 PM
I'm in Broomfield Colorado

03-31-2006, 02:55 PM
1) no you do not have to worry about seperation.

2) Caramel, it depentds on what you are going for. Caramelized sugars are not fermentable. If you are using it to sweeten before bottling it should work, as the yeast will not metabolize it. If you are looking for a source of fermentable sugars caramel is not it. Be aware that Caramel SURYP is not caramelized sugar, it is usually flavored, colored and thinkened corn syrup. As is many ďMaple SyrupĒ on the market so read labels carfully.

3) The tart / bitter pie cherries should work fine. I would not crack the pit as I am sure there are awful tasting bits inside. I would lightly crush the fruit and put it in pits and all.

4) Irish moss is not really a flavor ingredient; it is a fining agent that helps coagulate proteins. If I remember right it needs to be heated along with the proteins in order to work well.

Hope this helps

Matt :)

03-31-2006, 02:59 PM
Good info Thanks Matt,
Hey real quick, My current mead is has some slight color seperation in the second fermentor. Do I just bottle it as is, give a quick stir, or keep racking?

03-31-2006, 03:51 PM
Usually separation means it didn't get enough stirring up front. When mixing at the beginning, I use a Lees Stirrer and whip it all into a frenzy for 3-5 minutes. You can use a paint stirrer attached to a drill also (make sure you don't use it for paint! ;) )

Give it some gentle stirring to see if you can mix it all back up.

Also on the cherries - if you have the space, freeze them a few days then defrost and add to the mix. Freezing helps break up the cell walls to give you more juice. I agree with Matt - don't Vitamix the pits/seeds - it will add too much bitterness if they are blended.

Dan McFeeley
03-31-2006, 05:18 PM
-Irish moss- Iím a fan of scotch so this one intrigues me, I saw this is some old mead recipes, though I donít know where to get it here or what the result would be?

Hello jspclk -- welcome to the forums!

Irish moss in mead recipes is kind of a cross over from home brewing. Old time mead recipes put together by homebrewers recommended Irish moss as a fining ingredient, going by their experience of using Irish moss in home brewing.

Back in the 1970's and 1980's, meadmaking among homebrewers was mostly an unexplored territory. They used ideas they were already familiar with.

Take a look at the *original* recipe for Barkshack Ginger Mead, not the one you'll find in Charlie Papanzian's published books, but the *first* one printed out prior to TCJHB book. This was posted by Jeff Renner on the Hist-Brewing Digest. You can see it here:


but here's his post -- take a good look and you'll see the influence of early 1970's homebrewing on meadmaking:


Well, my copy of _The New Revised and More Joy of Homebrewing_ is
dated 1976 and 1980, leading me to believe that the original dates
from 1976. It's 6"x8.5", 88 pages, soft cover stapled in the middle.
It's not typeset, just typed on a typewriter (almost certainly before
word processors), with very 70's line drawings.

His Barkshack Gingermead recipe differed from the one in his later
_Complete Joy of Homebrewing_ (p.45):

Boil one hour:

2 gallons water
6 lbs. honey
2-4 oz. freshly grated gingerroot
2 lbs. corn sugar
1/8-1/4 teaspoon irish moss if available (minute
quantities will aid in clarifying brews)
1 oz. hops
1 teaspoon citric acid

The boiling of the honey may be a necessary aid in clarifying the mead.

Sparge [!] the wort into a pail. Add a necessary amount of water of
water to bring the total a bit above 5 gallons. Beginning specific
gravity should read about 1.055.


2 teaspoons yeast nutrient (honey is deficient in yeast-type vitamins). ...
finishing hops
and beer yeast when cooled

Quaint, huh? His later recipes had more honey and less sugar and
some other minor changes.

I made a mead in the mid 70s, and it was very dry to the point of
austerity. I suspect that I used citric acid or an acid mix, and
probably tannin as well. I made it a sparkling mead, and that
increased the acidity, of course, from the CO2. I never drank it
all, and I think I threw out the remaining bottles when we moved a
few years later. It might have been good by now!

As Dan mentions, in 1986, Charlie Papazian wrote a twenty page
postscript to the 170+ page, 1948 English publication, Wassail! In
Mazers of Mead, by Lt. Colonel Robert Gayre, Gayre & Nigg [what a
family name!]. It was called _Brewing Mead_, with the original title
as a sub-title. The original was pretty dry reading, as I recall. I
don't remember much useful from it, and looking over it now doesn't
inspire me to reread it. But I guess it made Charlie some money, and
it was no doubt his original interest in mead that reawakened
interest in meadmaking along with the homebrew revival.

We really were wandering in the wilderness back in the 70s when I
first started brewing.


Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, c/o nerenner at umich.edu
"One never knows, do one?" Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943