Yarrow & Calendula Honey Mead

Calendula officinalis

T’is the season! Maybe. Is there even a season for mead? It feels like that season should be right because this is when I felt like making another batch of mead. I really enjoyed making growler sized batches in the past. It’s less of a committment and lets you save money and ingredients while experimenting.  Or split up a larg batch by fermenting in many indivdual fermenters and adding different ingredients. Whatever you want! Mead is really versatile, and I have never made a bad batch except-but-not-really my first, which was a duo-project: a juniper mead that I thought was brilliant but apparently to some it tasted like olive oil. I don’t get it either.

Yarrow is a great ingredient for mead, as fellow BFB-er Jesse Black has demonstrated in a previous post describing his own yarrow mead recipe. It’s bitterness and astringency neutralize sweetness and the floral, terpentine and cedar or sage-like aromatics add wonderful personality and flavour. Yarrow is also powerfully medicinal; disinfecting, reducing swelling, irritation, inflammation or pain and detoxifying the blood and urinary system. Calendula petals were added to impart a strong golden or orange color to the finished mead, as well as slightly thicken and add silkiness to the texture.

INGREDIENTS: (for 2 litre batch)

– 2 litres water- half pound of honey
– 0.4 ounces dried and fresh yarrow leaves
– 1/4 cup dried calendula petals, lightly packed
– 0.5 grams champagne yeast
– 2 grams yeast nutrient

INSTRUCTIONS:

Bring 1 litre or so of water a boil. Once boiling steadily, gradually add honey and continue to stir until dissolved. Add half the yarrow leaves (approximately 0.2 ounces) and stir until throughly moist. Cover only slightly and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Pour calendula pedals and the remaining yarrow into growler or other suitable fermentation vessel. Pour hot honey wort into growler, while straining out the boiled yarrow. Wait 5-10 minutes to allow the fresh yarrow and calendula petals to steep in the hot mead before topping up with another 1 litre of cold or room temperature water. Place cap or lid on growler/fermenter until room temperature; approximately 3-4 hours. Once cool enough or only slightly warm to the touch, remove cap/lid and add yeast nutrient and champagne yeast. Give one last stir and plug in the air lock: only straining out the herbs when it is time for bottling.

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Cardamom Spiced Mead

DSC_0154Thanks Michelle for being another accomplice on this endeavour. Mead is delicious, wholesome and a time honored drink of heath and vitality. I am really looking forward to trying this one. Cardamom is a warm, sharp spice made from the ground up pods of the plant Elettaria cardamomum which is in the same family as ginger. Try it in your coffee; you will not be dissappointed. We also added cinnamon, just because it’s great.

Ingredients: 2L water, 1/2L amber honey, 1 tbsp. ground cardamom, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, wine yeast.

Instructions: Pour 1 L of water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add honey, stirring until dissolved, and let boil for 10 mins. Add ground spices and stir untill suspended and nearly dissolved and boil for another 5 mins. Allow pot and mead inside to cool to almost room temperature (80-90 degrees F). Siphon into fermenter (in our case, a growler) and add the remaining litre of water. Add wine yeast, and insert airlock.

Mead needs to be in a little bit of a warmer situation than beer in order for the yeast to efficiently ferment the sugars in the honey. Honey is also comparatively devoid of the nutrients that yeast requires for proper health. It is particularly lacking in B12 vitamins and it is recommended that one should add yeast nutrient as a suppliment for the yeast fermenting your mead. I didn’t add any yeat nutrient, and regardless fermentation has begun and seems to be humming along at a regular beat.

Sacred and Herbal Beers estimates that mead made in a 1:3 ration honey to water will take 16-26 days. After which it can be bottled (if you wanted carbonated mead you could add dextrose or a small amount of honey to each bottle) and stored for up to a year, likely longer.