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Freezer Mead

20-Minute Jan and I made a batch of mead this week whose nearly sole purpose was to use up ingredients we had around the house.

Honey: We had, by extremely rough estimate, 8 pounds of Orange Blossom honey from the bottom of a tub of the stuff I got several months ago. It had started to crystallize a bit but some warm water loosened it enough to be removed with a sanitized spatula. I expect I’ll add upwards of 4 pounds of honey in addition to this when I transfer it to the secondary fermenter. I’d like a little bit of residual sweetness to help carry the fruit flavor but I’ll test it at transfer time.

Fruit: To this honey, we added all of the frozen fruit we had from the garden left over from last year. We figured it would only be a short time until we got fresh berries so we *might* be able to do without a supply in the freezer. There were a couple large-ish bags of black raspberries, one moderate bag of black currants and two small bags of…, well, I thought they were gooseberries but they had turned red in the bag. They sure tasted like gooseberries. There was also a small bag of dried cherries that we tossed in as well. Frozen fruit, I’ve found, works nicely in mead because the freezing process ruptures the cell walls and makes all the berry flavor available for the mead. All these ingredients went into a sanitized 3 gallon carboy, along with enough water to bring it up to the neck. Nope, these aren’t very precise measurements but this is the mead equivalent of a harvest ale, I figure, where one uses fresh untested hops so the bitterness can only be estimated and the exact recipe never repeated. The color is spectacular, a deep bluish purple. It will definitely stain anything it touches so if it’s bad mead, at least it might be good dye. (grin)

Yeast: The yeast I used was a package of dry ale yeast. Ale yeast doesn’t tolerate a very high alcohol concentration so it dies out while there’s still some sugar left in the mead. A wine yeast or even moreso a champagne yeast might make this fruity mead a bit too dry. And I opted for an ale yeast rather than a lager yeast, not so much due to fermentation temperature, because my basement brewing area is quite cool at this time of the year, but because I wanted that fruitier flavor that ale yeast gives, rather than the clear, clean profile of most lager yeasts. Plus, it was the kind of yeast I happened to have in my fridge.

By the next day there were polite periodic burps coming from the air lock which indicates fermentation had begun. I’ll check in again with it in a couple weeks and make adjustments then.

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