Almost Off Grid Mead Recipe for Beginners
This year marks the 4th year of our Homebrew shop. Interest in mead making seems to us to have increased a lot over those years. When people ask us for a Mead Recipe for Beginners, we often point them to Joe's Ancient Orange Mead (JAO) Recipe. It was originally posted by Joe Mattioli on a website called Got Mead years ago, and went viral. Then it occurred to us that we have our own Mead Recipe which is also ideal when you're new to Mead Making. So we started sharing that instead. And this is it. Both recipes are ideal when you're starting out. Incidentally, something else that's great when you're starting out is your very own Mead Making Journal. You will find my Mead Journal on Amazon, packed with hints, tips and recipes at the front, followed by over 100 lined pages to record your tasting notes and recipes.
Mead Recipe for Beginners
This recipe is an adaptation of JAO. We've developed it over time not only because it's a great basic mead recipe, but because it's an ideal base to which we add other fruits and herbs. The purists would say that once you start adding things to the mead, that turns it into something else. I tend to refer to any fermented honey-based wine as mead, but in fact there are a number of names for the many mead variations. Here are some of them.
Different Mead Types
Melomel - a mead which contains fruit.
Metheglin - a mead containing spices and/or herbs.
Cyser - honey and apple juice fermented together. In its heyday, cyser was mostly made in abbeys and monasteries.
Pyment - a grape based mead. A sort of wine made with honey or, alternatively, a mead made with grapes.
Hippocras - a grape based mead with herbs added.
Morat - mead with mulberries added.
Braggot - mead with hops and malt. You might say a cross between a beer and a mead.
So as you see, once you start making Mead then a whole new world of exciting variations opens up to you. Technically, this basic mead recipe for beginners is a sort of mead/melomel/metheglin. Whatever you want to call it (and I call it mead): it's delicious.
You don't need a lot of equipment to get going. Check out our Mead Making Kits and Ingredients.
Almost Off Grid Mead Recipe for Beginners
Makes 1 gallon (4.5 litres, 6 standard wine bottles)
- 3.5lbs honey (use decent quality honey, the final product will be so much better if you do. We use the honey from our hives, try to find a local honey seller if you can.)
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 1 small handful of raisins
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Half a cup of strong, black tea (which you've brewed and then allowed to go cold).
- 1 sachet* of Mead Yeast
- Water - Bottled/boiled which has gone cold/filtered - to top up to 1 gallon.
This recipe assumes you already have wine/mead making equipment, find all our starter kits here.
1. Sterilise all equipment.
2. Scrub the orange and lemon clean under cold, running water.
3. Heat about 2 litres of water in a saucepan until warm, then dissolve the honey in the water.
4. Whilst allowing the water to cool, slice the orange and lemon into 8 pieces.
5. Once the honey water is virtually at room temperature, pour it into the bucket/demijohn and add all the fruit, plus the cinnamon stick and the cold tea.
6. Top up the vessel to about 3 inches from the top with water.
7. Put the lid on the bucket/bung in the demijohn, put your (clean) finger over the hole and swirl everything around.
8. Add the yeast* to the bucket/demijohn, replace the lid/bung and swirl again until it is well mixed.
9. Fit the lid/bung and airlock. Leave on a surface in a reasonably warm place until fermentation starts. You will be able to tell it has begun, because the bubbler airlock will start bubbling.
10. Once you are sure fermentation has started, put the vessel away somewhere at room temperature for 2-3 months and allow it to ferment out. A dark cupboard works well. Check on it occasionally to ensure things are warm enough (too low a temperature is the most common reason why fermentation won't start, or starts and then stops - more about that here).
11. When you are confident fermentation has stopped, you are ready to bottle. We always wait until the fruit falls to the bottom of the vessel which is our sign that everything is completely finished. If you don't want to wait that long but are concerned about the risk of exploding bottles, you can add a crushed campden tablet to the mead before bottling. I prefer to wait rather than adding anything to my mead; this is entirely personal choice.
12. Syphon the mead off into sterilised bottles, leaving the sediment behind.
13. Some people drink the mead straight away. We think it benefits enormously from being left for at least 3 months before drinking. In just about every case: the longer you leave it, the smoother it gets.
*most yeast sachets contain more than enough yeast to treat a one gallon vessel. Mangrove Jack's Mead Yeast M05, which is the yeast we recommend, will treat 6 times this volume. If you know you are going to make more mead soon, then re-seal the pack as best you can and leave it in the fridge until you make the next batch. But do test it before embarking upon another batch to ensure it's still ok - read about how you test yeast to see if it's still alive here.
Recommended Further Reading about Mead Making:
Making Mead by Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan
Making Mead Like a Viking by Jereme Zimmerman
The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm
and our very own Mead Making Journal by Bev Toogood
Other Almost Off Grid Favourites:
Beginner's Guide to Making Mead
Elderflower and Lemon Mead Recipe
10 Reasons Your Fermentation Won't Start
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