Filed under: by Carol
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Given that this blog is about keeping myself on track learning skills to provide for the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing, I should probably not feel so excited about my first batches of mead! While delicious and healing, its a stretch to call it a basic need. (Dissenters’ comments welcome below) But heck. I’m only human and given that mead is recognized as the oldest fermented beverage and has been made for tens of thousands of years, I’m guessing I’m not the first to relish the magic of honey, water, yeast and time.
At the recent Firefly Gathering, I took a half day class on mead making and picked myself up a starter kit so I could put the newly gained knowledge to immediate use. This was important because one of the things I learned was that mead takes approximately 3 months to be drinkable, and like most wine, improves with time. One of the recommended books by the instructor was Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Since this was already on my book wish list, I wasted no time acquiring it from a local bookseller. The first recipe in this highly readable and amusing book is for T’ej which is an Ethiopian-style honey wine. It is basically a simple form of mead that, I was thrilled to learn, is drinkable in 2-4 weeks! Near instant gratification.
So after picking up some sanitizing solution (another important bit learned), I set out to mix up the proper ratios of honey and water and then added 2 quarts of blueberries for flavor and to jump start the fermentation process as apparently yeasties love berries. It didn’t take long before that bowl was abubbling on the counter and each day the kitchen smelled more and more like a brewery. The bubbling slowed after 5 days and I transferred to my gallon jug obtained with the kit, installed the airlock and we have been watching it bubble in our bathtub for two weeks.
Today we sampled it for the first time. Definitely alcoholic, not too sweet, hint of blueberry flavor. Success! I understand they don’t always work out so I’m pretty excited that the first one did. We’ve been collecting bottles and if we don’t drink it all out of the jug, we’ll save some and see how it ages. While we were waiting,we started a batch of true mead that will be ready at the end of October. We made a tea from gorgeous lemon balm growing on our patio and this time added a packaged champagne yeast. There was no mistaking the activity in that brew!
I’m hooked. Not only is it empowering to make your own wine, I know exactly what is in these homebrews and how they have been handled. I can’t wait to start my next batch. T’ej or Mead? Hmmmm….And after that I’ll be ready to read the medicinal beer book I just received.
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