Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of… MEAD?!?

So, on the Blogathon front, it turns out I can’t have a student organization as a chosen charity. Sorry Hillel of SDSU. But, I’ve found a NEW charity I -CAN- use! Yes, my friends, the Aleph Institute is allowing me the honor to raise money for them in the Blogathon. As a Jew who was homeless, I support this organization’s goal to help those Jews who are in Prison, the military, or otherwise cut off from their roots in some form to keep in touch with their faith. An excellent organization, indeed!

In other news, I saw there’s now a Jewish Credit Card out there. It makes me wish I HAD good enough credit to use it, to be honest. ^^ Ah, it would make my trip to Kosherfest all the easier. People keep asking if I want to exhibit. My question is what the hey would I have in my booth if I did? A banner, recipe cards, and business cards with my site’s address? Nah, I’m still too amateur night in Dixie to have a booth, dispite the wonderful exposure it’d give me. I’ll wait until I have a cooking show on food network to do that!

But, the more I write, the more I realize I don’t want to write my normal food article today… No, today I want to look at DRINKS again, manily my personal favorite drink, mead. Now, as any member of the Society for a Creative Acronysm like myself will tell you, mead is a honey-based wine that was popular in the middle ages. Known as dvash in Hebrew, this wine is sweet, refreshing, and WONDERFUL to toast “L’chayim!” with!

Now, before we begin the Article:

Warning!!!

Mead is an alcoholic beverage, and should not be made or imbiled by those under the legal age of consumption in their state, provenance, and/or country. Furthermore, know when to say when, and always drink responsibly. Finally, if you have a drinking problem, please contact Alcoholics Annonymous to become a friend of Bill W. Thank you, and that’s it for the disclaimers.

Now, before we begin mead, let’s discuss the different styles of mead out there. The first is Mead, which is the basic honey wine most make or buy for consumption. There’s also Show Mead, a wine made with JUST honey for shows and display to make it seem more golden and pretty. Next is Sack Mead, a strong mead made with extra honey to make it extra sweet. Finally is Braggot, a beer-like mead made with malt and honey. There’s other types of mead out there (Like Capsicumel, a honey wine made with chile peppers.), but for now we’ll just look at the basics.

Now, unlike most recipe artilces, I’m going to go over the ingredients in better detail here. First, the main ingredient, is honey. I recommend buying a large quantity of kosher honey for this, and WHAT honey you use affects the taste of your honey. Try to find a nice, sweet honey with a neutral taste so that the flower used to make it doesn’t combine poorly with any additions you decide to make. Next is water. I -HIGHLY- recommend using filtered and dechlorinated water for this. Some suggest having it also being softened with some gypsum, but I’m not one to put much stock into that, myself. Our next ingredient is Yeast. I recommend Premier Cuvee as your yeast as its certified kosher and VERY forgiving to the new brewer. Even better is that it doesn’t leave any kind of aftertastes, ferments fast, and overall is the best you can use for this project. Finally comes the optional fruit and spices, where you can fully customize the wine to be YOUR special blend. But, we’ll get into this later. Finally, the last ingredient is an acid blend to assist with fermentation. Lucky for me, there’s a very long list of kosher acid blends that you can choose from.

And now, we begin…

Mead

5 gallons water
11 pounds honey
3/4 cup of your favorite loose flower or fruit-based tea
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
acid blend
Premere Covee wine yeast

Start by boiling 5 gallons of water in a large stock pot.

Once boiling, add the tea, spices and honey and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes.

Next cool to cool the mixture to pitching temperature (about 75 degrees F) using a wort chiller.

Once chilled, pour the mixture into a 7 gallon sanitized covered plastic pail with an airlock and, optionally, a sealable spout in the bottom.

At this point, prepare and add in the acid blend and yeast (Use the package’s directions on how to prepare both) and ariate it by stirring it slowly with a wooden spoon or paddle for about 10 rotations, and then SEAL IT UP.

Rest in a cool, dry room for about a month, checking once a day to see if the airlock is still bubbling. Once it’s under a bubble a minute (About 1 month to 6 weeks), we can look into bottling.

Next is a very important part. Before unsealing the mead that’s aged, Set all your sanitized bottles in an open clean box and make ready to transfer. While I buy beer bottles with stoppers for my mead, you can also use wine bottles with stoppers, as well.

Opening the fermentation bucket, try to quickly yet safely pour or ladle the mead into the bottles. If you spill any, clean it up LATER! An option I’ve found works well is to have a nozzle on the bottom of the fermentation jug. This way you can simply fill up each bottle, leaving about an inch to an inch & half of air room for settling in each bottle.

Once all your bottles are filled, seal them and let them set in the bottles back in the same cool and dry room for another few days before drinking, so as to allow the wine to settle. When poured, it should be a nice golden color, and have a rather sweet taste.

I prefer my mead either chilled, or warmed and mulled. To mull your mead, I recommend getting some mulling spices from your grocery store and follow the directions on the package. But basically you simmer the mead with the mulling spices for about 10-20 minutes, so as to add to the taste of the sweet wine and bring out its full bouquet. This is the traditional way to drink mead, so I do recommend trying it.

I want finish this article with a traditional winter holiday drink, Wassail. Now, my Wassail isn’t like your normal wassail, but I think it turns out quite well, myself!

Jewish Wassail

4 bottles Manischewitz Wine (Your choice on flavor, but I find blackberry works best)
1 small bottle of Kosher brandy (I use Carmel Three Sevens Orange Flavored Brandy out of Israel, myself.)
1/2 cup apple cider
12 allspice, whole
12 cloves, whole
6 cinnamon sticks, broken

Combine all the ingredients in a large kettle or pot and cook over low heat for 30 minutes to two hours, depending on how well-cooked you want it, stirring every few minutes with a wooden spoon or paddle.

The traditional way to drink this brew is in a large punch bowl and everyone scoops out mugfulls. If you prefer, you can scoop it into mugs with a ladle, but this a great drink for those cold winter holidays to help you survive the in-laws. Overall, I hope you have enjoyed this educational trip into alcohol brewing, and I hope you all drink responsibly. Shalom and Good Cooking!

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June 15, 2006. advice, recipes, wine.

2 Comments

  1. LDF replied:

    I’m going to have to give that recipe a try some day. I just made my first batch his weekend and am waiting for it to ferment. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  2. Another Wine Article… « Renegade Kosher Cooking replied:

    […] I like wine, that’s something many know. And, every few months, I seem to post a new wine recipe. Well, with holidays coming for many faiths right now coupled with the coming new year, this is the time of year for holiday and New Year’s parties. Keeping that in mind, let’s look over some party ‘punches’ with kick. Now, I already did a recipe for Kosher Wassail, but let’s go south of the boarder now. Yes, my friends, we’re going to discuss the making of Sangria. […]

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