Well, we had been wanting to make a batch of mead for awhile. Hubby, and Shannon and myself had made a batch a few years back, but had retained very little of the actual instructions, as much of it was done for us, by a great mead maker that we know. We were to watch, take notes etc., but alas... the notes are long gone, and so we really had almost no idea what to do.
We borrowed information from a few sources. WiccanWeb.ca has a download section with great Mead information, so armed with that and a few other sources, we began.
(Click on any of the pictures below to see them full-size)
First off was the honey.
Although I would have loved to buy some fancy local honey from our local Bee Keepers (hey, out here in the Fraser Valley, we have some of the finest honey! Definitely check out Chilliwack River Valley Natural Honey), but alas, for the 6 kg that we needed to buy, we had to go cheap and bought no-name natural unpasteurized liquid honey from Superstore.
However, I DID purchase some Bee Pollen from Chilliwack River Valley... fresh and yummy. Perfect as a yeast energizer.
Okay.. sooo what we did was emptied 6kg of Honey into a big enamel pot that is intended for use as a water bath canner. Perfect for this task. To the honey we added 2 gallons (8 litres) of water.
We heated this to a boil, and let it bubble for 10-20 minutes. (Shannon did 20, I did closer to ten)
Here's a picture of Shannon happily stirring this combination (called a must)
And here is a picture of the must getting all foamy. If not stirred, this must can boil over if you arent paying attention, and as well, the foam can become scorched if left to sit on top and touch the sides of the pot.
So, after the boiling was done, it was removed from the heat. Shannon thought to pour this into her 5 gallon bucket in order to free up the pot for myself or our other partaker to use. However, she found out that 3 gallons of freshly boiled hot liquid does funny things to plastic buckets... so she promptly poured it back into the big pot for cooling..
At this point we added about 1.5 kg of frozen and thawed fruit. The freezing of the fruit helps the cell structure to break down more easily. We also added the equivalent of one citrus fruit... have a lemon sliced, and half a blood orange, sliced.
We also added the bee-pollen. We read that 1-5 tbsp per gallon was the ideal amount, so we opted for an even 3tbsp per gallon.
We had read that the yeast could not be added until the temp had reached room temperature of the must... but this could have taken hours, and we couldnt recall it taking that long before, when this part was done for us, so we waited until it lowered to about 100 F, and then added a final gallon of cooler water to the bucket, which by this time we had poured it into.
So, one package of Lalvin 1118 Champagne yeast was added to a few ounces of warm water. Oddly, when I did one package of the yeast with water at the recommended 104-109F, it did not react. Even after the fifteen minutes. When I did another pack with slightly warmer temperature, it did indeed have a reaction. (Shannon had also used a higher temperature)
Also at this point, we put in our Triple Scale Hydrometor (about 9.00) and took a reading of the level that it floated at. It floated at 1.2, which means there is a potential alchohol content of about 15%, based on the amount of available sugar. We will check that in time to see if its starting to fall and to see if we need to add some more sugar (in form of honey or juice)
So, the following are pictures of the Mead in the bucket, with fruit and everything all added, and then, there is a picture of that same Mead today, after a night of fermenting. Hooray for Fermentation!
So, about 10 days in this bucket (covered with cheesecloth and tied round so that bugs cant get in) and then it will be syphoned using a 12.00 syphon called The Thief, easily found at any Beer/Wine making shop, into a 21 litre Carboy. These can be bought used from the same shop for less than 20.00. You will also need a bit of hose for your syphon, this is about 3-5.00, then a rubber cork for the top of your Carboy (under 2.00) with a corresponding Air Bung (under 2.00 as well).
The most costly part of this whole process is the Honey, the rest is very affordable.
Also, make sure that you ask for some sterilizer, because you want to have everything sterile that will come in contact with the mead.
We sterilized our home depot bucket, and before we transfer it, we will soak the hose, syphon and anything else, in the bathtub with sterlizer added. Also cheap and purchased from your favourite Wine/Beer making place.
We purchased from La Brewhouse . So if you are out in the Whack, then this might be a good place to check out. Knowledgeable staff will answer any questions about using their products, although like most wine/beer places, they are NOT mead experts. But they are friendly, and the equipment is used the same way regardless of what you are making. (I had many silly questions that he happily answered :D)