View Full Version : exploding howling jack??

08-01-2006, 06:25 PM
I found this recipe off of meadworks. It is called howling jack: honey pumpkin mead. It sounds very interesting so i am going to try it for a mead on halloween. Do you think this mead will taste ok? I like sweet meads...but anywayz i had a question about the procedure of this mead. In the recipe below it states that after the must is placed in the pumpkin, seal the top with wax...if you have mead fermenting in a sealed pumpkin wouldn't the pumpkin build pressure and explode? And will the finished product be carbonated? This sounds like a question that should be posted in the newbie section lol..but i hope someone could help me :-[ here's the recipe:

1 sound, large-bodied pumpkin-somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-gallon capacity (if you canít find a jumbo-plumpo boy, use two smaller Ďkins and split the liquid between them)
3 pounds fall wildflower honey
1.5 unpeeled citrus fruits Ė orange, lemon, lime, or any combination thereof Ė well-scrubbed and chopped coarsely
1 tbsp strong black brewed tea
2 tbsp bee pollen (or 1 tsp yeast nutrient)
1 package of wine yeast
Good water sufficient to make up 1 gallon total


prepare yeast starter
2. Sterilize honey-water by boiling to 10 minutes, skimming the froth as it rises
3. remove pot from heat, stir in fruit, tea, yeast nutrient. Allow to cool.
Pitch the Yesat

Pumpkin preparation:
Cut the top off, carefully making sure it will re-seat securely
Gut and clean it; rinse
Fill a plastic bucket full of hot water. Melt the parafiin wax on the surface of the water
Dip the pumpkin, bottom first, until it is coated up to the rim (do not get the wax inside)
Remove the coated pumpkin and quickly pour your prepared recipe into the body cavity of Mr. Jack. Leave about an inch of air space between the liquid and the rim of the opening. Top with water if needed.
Replace the top. Seal the seam with melted paraffin.
Place in a quiet dark spot for about 2 months

After 2 months, liberate the brew by breaking the seal and siphoning off into bottles. For you more cautious types, you might want to siphon off into a glass secondary, fit with an air lock for evaluation. If the fermentation is not complete and you bottle prematurely, the corks may blow and all your patient efforts will come to naught.

08-01-2006, 07:33 PM

Let's see here:

OK from my experience you will be blasting the top off the pumpkin, but I've never fermented in a pumpkin before. I don't think that the pumpkin is necessarily the best fermentation vessel as it will be pretty tough to get a good seal once you're in anaerobic fermentation, so oxidation will be a concern.

The recipe itself is not what I'd really ever make. The citrus is chopped up coarsely so you'll have some issues with pithy flavor, the black tea is something I wouldn't use, I also wouldn't use bee pollen. The yeast is a mystery too.

All that said, it looks like an interesting recipe nonetheless. Where did you find it?



08-01-2006, 08:12 PM
One comment about the pumpkin. I like cooking with pumpkin, and most pumpkins that you buy at the store are grown for Jack-o-lanterns and don't taste very good at all (but then again they have thick skins). If you are worried about the pumpkin flavor, I'd make sure I found cooking pumpkins, but they usually arenít very large.


08-01-2006, 09:19 PM
i found the recipe of the meadworks website, the exact url is this: http://www.meadworks.ca/news/2005/06/07/howling_jack_honey_pumpkin_mead

i agree that this recipe probly wouldn't taste very good, but it just sounded interesting for something to brew up on halloween, i was hoping it would be possible for me to make this recipe and have something decent to drink but it doesn't look like it.

08-01-2006, 11:20 PM
I've read recipes like this one before. One such suggested that the entire pumpkin get dipped in a paraffin bath. The wax doesn't really hold onto the cut part of the pumpkin so well that it makes a seal that would cause the thing to blow up, from what I've read -- but, like Oskaar (and most other mead makers I'd wager), I've never fermented in a pumpkin. You could, conceivably, poke a hole in the lid piece after you get the must inside it and the whole thing is sealed, and fit an airlock into it.

If I recall, you are supposed to rack off the pumpkin no matter what the recipe says, if and when it starts to get soft.

Good luck, and please keep us informed!


08-01-2006, 11:46 PM
ya i think i'll go ahead and experiment with this recipe and put it in the brewlog section...along with photos and everything..hope it works out ok!

08-01-2006, 11:50 PM
The recipe calls for filling a hollowed pumpkin with must and letting it sit out for two full months?! I donít know dude, Iíve made a lot of jack-o-lanterns in my day and those puppies donít look (or smell) so hot after 4-5 days, never mind 60 days. Maybe Iím wrong, but I would think that after a few weeks that pumpkin would be mush. This is all speculation as I cant speak from personal experience so please correct me if you think Iím wrong.

08-02-2006, 12:29 AM
thats what i was worried about too..if the pumpkin sits out for awhile it caves in, gets mushy, and smells awfull, but supposedly the wax will hold it together and the seal will prevent it from rotting

08-02-2006, 01:19 AM
I like the idea, but donít want to trust to the pumpkin, Iíll leave that up to someone else.

2 cups chopped sweet cooking pumpkin
1 Lemon cut into quarters
3 lbs wildflower honey
1 tbsp strong black brewed tea
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 package D47
Water to 1 gallon.

I choose the lemon because I discovered with my Pumpkin soup that the lemon really brings out the pumpkin flavor.

I think I will make a second batch with a can of pumpkin pie filling instead just for grins.

Any comments before I start creating this would be appreciated.

Youíre all invited over to trick or treat and taste it, in a year and a half.


08-02-2006, 04:57 AM
Take a look here (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,103/topic,2111.msg16729/,#msg16729) for some tips on preparing the pumpkin.

I'd say to skip the tea and lemon chunks in the primary as they will probably overwhelm your pumpkin. I've done pumpkin with citrus and spice before and too much tannin and citrus will definately take the top off the pumpkin flavor.

Hope that helps,


08-02-2006, 08:08 AM
Zymergy had an article about someone who brewed a Pumpkin Ale in a pumpkin, or just racked into it for carbonation. I cannot remember which. I will look back into the pile and see what I can find. There may be some pointers there.


08-02-2006, 09:39 AM
I have heard of someone doing this and he said it was good. I am toying with the idea of fall flavor meads in the next couple months and a pumpkin one is on the list. Except I might add a couple cans of pumpkin pie filling, if they are without preservatives that is. But still toying, nothing set in the stone.

Please keep us all posted on the progress if you choose to use the 'kin as your primary vessel...

Muirghein Tarot
08-02-2006, 10:18 AM
It sounds like you would have something very scary for Halloween... but it's a cool idea and just the sort of thing our ancestors would have thought of. A lot of them wouldn't have had access to perfectly seal-able brewing vessels.
I'm talking the medieval equivalent of your 'backwoods hillbilly redneck' not your mead maker to the king here.

If I liked pumpkin more I might just try it for the fun of doing something like this. Lord knows it wouldn't be the strangest thing I'm ever drank. Had a mongol give me some fermented mare's milk one time. Lets just say strange tasting and leave it at that.


08-03-2006, 09:44 AM
Okay, so here's some comments from someone who is fairly new to mazing and winemaking (less than a year), and has about the same amount of experience in drinking mead, BUT has a batch of pumpkin wine and two batches of pumpkin pie spice mead going or bottled.

1 - the pumpkin pie mead without pumpkin (just spices) tastes wonderful as young as it is - like JAO - but does not taste like pumpkin pie

2 - when I racked the pumpkin wine off the pumpkin recently, I wasn't too sure about the taste (the color is STUNNING), but my non-wine-drinking hubby said it tasted great (young, but great) and wants me to make more.

3 - although the pumpkin in the wine stayed nice and orangish yellow the whole time it was fermenting and sitting, the pumpkin in the mead turned BLACK and scary looking. I had my roommate (and official taste-tester for all things that look like they may give me food poisoning) taste it, and when he pronounced it "safe", I tried it. It tasted awful. I prolly left it on the pumpkin waaaay too long, but I don't know what happened to it that didn't happen to the wine pumpkin. I am not sure how it will age, though, so I didn't toss it down the sink. Again it did not taste like pumpkin pie. Nor did it taste like anything that might remotely ever taste like pumpkin pie. Or anything that might ever taste good. But I have read that time does wonders for crud like this. *grins*

So, this fall - I am going to be making cyser. :)

08-03-2006, 07:42 PM
Can you please share you recipe for the pumkin vessle wine? I want to try this but I don't want to waste my hunny on a biological hazzard.



08-04-2006, 03:50 PM
Whoopsie! I got misunderstood. I didn't make the wine IN a pumpkin. I bought a small baking pumpkin and chopped it up and baked it with some brown sugar and chunked it in a fermenter. Here's a link to the log:
Pumpkin Marathon (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,103/topic,2785.msg22863/,#msg22863)
And the photos:
pumpkin photos (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,103/topic,4196.msg34940/,#msg34940)

I still need to take photos of the cleared wine. It is really pretty.