Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Recipe

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Recipe

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Recipe (also known as JAO) is the mead recipe you'll find all over the internet. It was originally posted by Joe Mattioli on a website called Got Mead many years ago and went viral.

I hooked up with Steve Gibson at the Sussex Bee Festival this year. Steve (aka Steve The Mead Guy on Instagram) gave a demonstration on Mead Making for Beginners, and Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Recipe is the one he generally demonstrates with. It's quick, simple and it works so it's the perfect recipe if you haven't made Mead before.

We now sell Mead Starter Kits, and this is the recipe we include in the kit on Steve's recommendation.

Mead Starter Kit


We couldn't put a link to Joe's website here because we couldn't find one, but we did find an interview with Joe Mattioli here! The interview was with which is a fantastic resource for Mead makers everywhere, and the interview starts around 10 minutes into the programme.

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Recipe


    • 1 large orange (later cut in eights or smaller rind and all)
    • 1 small handful raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
    • 1 whole clove (or 2 if you like, these critters are potent!)


Makes 1 gallon of mead.
  1. Use a clean 1 gallon carboy.
  2. Dissolve honey in some warm water and put in carboy.
  3. Wash orange well to remove any pesticides and slice in eights --add orange (you can push em through opening big boy -- rinds included -- its ok for this mead -- take my word for it -- ignore the experts)#
  4. Put in raisins, clove, cinnamon stick, any optional ingredients and fill to 3 inches from the top with cold water. (Need room for some foam -- you can top off with more water after the first few day frenzy.)
  5. Shake the heck out of the jug with top on, of course. This is your sophisticated aeration process.
  6. When at room temperature in your kitchen, put in 1 teaspoon of bread yeast Mead Yeast - see above>. (No you don't have to rehydrate it first-- the ancients didn't even have that word in their vocabulary-- just put it in and give it a gentle swirl or not - the yeast can fight for their own territory.)
  7. Install water airlock. Put in dark place. It will start working immediately or in an hour. (Don't use grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away in the 90's. Wait 3 hours before you panic or call me.) After major foaming stops in a few days add some water and then keep your hands off of it. (Don't shake it! Don't mess with them yeastees! Let them alone except its okay to open your cabinet to smell every once in a while.

    Recipe Notes

    Racking --- Don't you dare

    additional feeding --- NO NO NO

    More stirring or shaking -- You're not listening, don't touch

    After 2 months and maybe a few days it will slow down to a stop and clear all by itself. (How about that - You are not so important after all).

    Then you can put a hose in with a small cloth filter on the end into the clear part and siphon off the golden nectar. If you wait long enough even the oranges will sink to the bottom but I never waited that long. If it is clear it is ready.

    You don't need a cold basement. It does better in a kitchen in the dark. (Like in a cabinet) likes a little heat (70-80). If it didn't work out... you screwed up and didn't read my instructions (or used grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away).

    If it didn't work out then take up another hobby. Mead is not for you. It is too complicated. If you were successful, which I am 99% certain you will be if you followed the recipe, then enjoy your mead.

    When you get ready to make different mead you will probably have to unlearn some of these practices I have taught you, but hey--- This recipe and procedure works with these ingredients so don't knock it. It was your first mead. It was my tenth. Sometimes, even the experts can forget all they know and make good ancient mead.


    And that's the mead recipe! With thanks to Joe Mattioli, the man who originally posted it on


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    • Hi Aili, I have used all sorts of fruit in this recipe. If it’s your first time you could switch to some other citrus fruit instead (lemons, limes) so you’re replicating the recipe as closely as you can. That way you’ll know when it’s finished whether you like it before fiddling too much with the recipe. I think the citrus fruit adds acid to the blend, it isn’t just about the taste of the fruit as such. So you could also just use your oranges. Good luck!

    • I’m in the US Northeast. I have a very hard time finding good oranges. They’re bland by the time they get here from wherever they’re grown – they have no taste and no smell. Does it matter? Can I use something else?

    • I am now making my second batch of this. It’s a perfect beginner’s mead. Mine took about a 1.5 months to clear up. Best one I’ve made yet.

      Avraham Chastain
    • Hi Mary, yes generally the longer you leave any mead, the better it tastes. And you can do it either way. Either age it in the fermenting vessel or bottle it and then age it in the bottles. Bear in mind it’s easiest, on the face of it. to age it in the fermentation vessel because you don’t have the relative hassle of bottling it. However it will take longer to age because there’s a bigger volume in your carboy than in bottles. Plus once you’ve opened it and start drinking it, you need to drink it quite quickly as it will start to spoil if you repeatedly open the lid. Which is why it’s often easier just to bottle it in the first place! Hope that helps and good luck.

    • Hi. I’ve heard that this tastes best after left for 9 months or so. Does that mean left in the carboy or after bottling?


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