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, I just accidentally added the whole packet of Mangrove Jack’s Mead Yeast M05 – what can I do? Will it all go horribly wrong?

    • Hi Dave, that temperature sounds broadly fine, 18 may be a little low for the yeast to get going, depending on the yeast (the packets often give you an ideal temperature range). If it seems reluctant to start fermenting and you’re not seeing much sign of life, move it to a slightly warmer place for a while to get it started. Good luck!

    • Can it be between 65-70 degrees?

      Dave Bohn
    • Hi. Made with the kit and following the steps. Left brewing for an additional month. Just bottled and had a first taste. Tastes great but stronger than I was expecting! What sort of strength do you expect this to usually turn out?

    • Hi Logan, thanks for your order and your question! For your first time, I would stick to the recipe exactly as it is. Then you have a starting point to work from and can start experimenting. And if something goes wrong in your experiments and you’ve only changed one thing (such as amount of honey), you’ll know what the problem was. You may find this recipe is dry enough anyway and, if it isn’t, one answer can be to use a different yeast such as Lalvin EC-1118 which is notorious for delivering a dry finish when you use it in wine and mead. If you don’t add enough honey for the yeast, you may simply end up with a yeasty taste because there weren’t enough sugars in your mead to use it all up. Then if you don’t use a fermentation stopper, which I don’t, that yeast will stay live leading to fermentation in the bottle. Exploding bottles is exciting, but not advisable :) Hope that helps and good luck!


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