Elderflower and Lemon Mead Recipe
We were videoing about how to make Joe's Ancient Orange Mead (JAO) the other day and didn't have a demijohn of it to show off at the end. Not because we don't make it, but because we've drunk it all (oops). So we brought in a demijohn of Elderflower and Lemon Mead I made 2 years ago instead. It is absolutely gorgeous! So here's the recipe.
Use Quality Honey to make Quality Mead
I know I've said this before, but it's always worth repeating. Get yourself some decent (ideally local) honey to make mead. I will cost more than the £2 a bottle stuff from the supermarket, but your mead will taste so much better. And you will be supporting a local beekeeper.
Cleaning and Sterilising
If you're using good quality honey, then really the only thing that could mess up your mead is by not cleaning and sterilising your equipment properly. As always, whichever home brew you are making, clean & sterilise all the equipment you are using. Fermenting liquids are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and the wrong kind of bacteria will spoil your mead. There are a variety of cleaners and sterilisers to choose from, all of which are simple to use. Simply follow the instructions on the packaging.
Equipment for Making Mead
The good news: you don't need much equipment.
- A 1 gallon (5 litre) fermentation bucket. You can also make your mead in a PET demijohn, or a glass one for that matter (more here on glass demijohns and where to find them)
- If you're using a for bucket to ferment your mead rather than a demijohn, then you'll need it to have a bored hole, fitted with a grommet to keep an airlock in place
- 1 Bubbler Airlock with cap (and a bung if you're using a demijohn)
- (optional) a thermometer.
We sell a Mead Starter Kit which includes the equipment you need, together with steriliser, yeast and the favourite of new mead makers everywhere: Joe's Ancient Orange Mead recipe. A funnel is also useful.
Today we are making Elderflower and Lemon Mead, though the process and recipe are not dramatically different for most meads you can make.
How Long should I Leave Mead to Mature?
As always in home brew matters, time is your friend.
The demijohn in this picture has been left for 2 years. You may think that's nuts. I may agree with you. However when you get into the swing of making mead all the time, you can afford to leave it for ages because there's always something else maturing that you made previously. And the longer you leave it, the better it gets.
As you can see, it looks dark in the demijohn but it is crystal clear and pale in the pipette. These Ala Pipettes are highly recommended, they're brilliant for home brewers. And I love their other name: Wine Thief.
What if I don't have Fresh Elderflowers?
The Elderflower season is quite short. As I write this, it's early July and the flowers have already gone where we are in the South East of England. But you can buy dried elderflowers and use them instead. I've confirmed the quantity of each in the recipe.
Elderflower and Lemon Mead Recipe
Makes approximately 4.5 litres of Mead (which is one standard demijohn).
3.5lbs/1.5kg good quality honey
2 unwaxed lemons, scrubbed well and chopped up so they will fit through the neck of the demijohn
About 10 heads of fresh elderflowers (stalks removed) OR 1 cup of dried elderflowers
About 30 raisins
1 tsp Mead Yeast
Bottled/Spring/Filtered Water to top up the demijohn - 3 or 4 litres.
1. Sterilise all your equipment according to the instructions on the packet.
2. Warm about half a litre of the water in a pan. You don't want the water boiling hot. Simply heat to just above room temperature to help the honey to melt, without destroying the enzymes in it.
3. Add the honey to the pan of water, mix with a spoon until the honey is dissolved in the water.
4. Pour the slighly warm honey/water mixture into the demijohn through a funnel.
5. Add the lemons, elderflowers and raisins to the demijohn. Cover the neck and swirl around to mix the honey and fruit. Ensure the honey is dissolved and doesn't just sink to the bottom (that shouldn't happen if it dissolved in the water earlier).
6. Add water up to just below the 'shoulders' of the demijohn. Cover the neck and swirl around again.
7. Add 1 teaspoon of Mead Yeast of your choice to the demijohn. Swirl around yet again.
8. Insert the sterilised airlock and bung. Put on the counter top and wait.
9. Within a few hours, fermentation will start. After a few days, fermentation will die down to a more steady rate. If it looks as though the liquid level is a bit low in the demijohn at this stage, add some more of your filtered/bottled water to the level of the demijohn shoulders.
10. When the bubbling completely stops, you can 'rack' your mead. This, incidentally, could take 3 weeks or 3 months. It really depends on the yeast, the ingredients and the temperature. We wait until the fruit has sunk to the bottom before we do this, you don't have to just be sure the fermentation has stopped before moving on to the next stage.
11. To rack off, transfer the mead to a second sterile demijohn using a simple syphon which has also been sterilised, leaving all the fruit and sediment behind. Fit the airlock and bung again in case fermentation starts up again for a few days.
12. Once you're confident that fermentation has completely stopped, remove the airlock and bored bung, fit a sterile solid bung and leave to mature for as long as you can bear to wait.
13. Bottle, label and enjoy. This mead makes a fantastic gift, though you may prefer not to give it away.
Other Mead Making Inspiration
Check out the following books:
Making Mead: A Complete Guide by Bryan Acton & Peter Duncan (the first one we bought and the best to start with, in our opinion)
The Big Book of Mead Recipes by Robert Ratliff
Make Mead Like a Viking by Jereme Zimmerman
Other Almost Off Grid Favourites
Beginner's Guide to Making Mead
Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Recipe
Small Batch Dandelion Mead Recipe