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How to Make a Gallon of Mead
March 1, 2015 by Grow Forage Cook Ferment —88 Comments
Maybe you’ve heard of mead before or maybe you haven’t, but one image that always seems to come to mind when mead is mentioned is Vikings drinking their grog. I don’t know a whole lot about Vikings, but I do know a bit about mead! Mead is a fermented honey and water mixture, some call it honey wine, and it is quite possibly the first fermented drink that humans purposefully made. Luckily for us, it’s quite easy to make! I’m going to show you how to make a gallon of mead, blueberry orange mead to be exact. Here’s what you will need to get started.
how to make mead
•2-3 pounds of honey, depending on how sweet you want to end product to be.
•Berries or fruit of any kind, fresh or frozen, about a cup
•About 10 raisins
•1 gallon jar or jug (you can reuse one that you bought for making hard cider) with it’s lid
•Airlock with rubber stopper that fits into your jar
•Big metal spoon
•A large pot (not pictured)
•Brewing sanitizer (I like One Step
I should mention right now that whenever you add fruit to a mead it’s technically called a melomel. You could also use apple cider instead of water and then you’d have what’s called a cyser. Also, this is a recipe for one gallon of mead, but I’m always of the mind that if you’re making one you might as well make two, especially if you already have two glass jugs from my hard cider recipe, as it’s really not any harder.
Alright, let’s get started! The first thing you need to do is sanitize everything! Your jug, airlock, big pot, spoon and funnel. Just follow the directions for your sanitizer and don’t throw it out until you’re totally done (just in case your dog licks the funnel or you drop your spoon).
Once that’s done put about 1/2 gallon of water (non chlorinated if possible) in your pot on medium heat. Once it’s warm, but not boiling, add the honey and stir it so it all dissolves.
how to make meadTurn the heat off. It may be a little foamy, that’s ok, just don’t boil it.
how to make meadIn the meantime, put your berries (or any fruit of your liking), orange slices (skin and all) and raisins into your jug.
how to make meadThen use your funnel and carefully pour the honey water mixture (technically called “must”) into your jar.
how to make meadTop off your jar with cold water, leaving at least 2 inches of head space on top.
homemade meadThen put the lid on your jar and gently mix everything around a bit. The next step is to add the yeast, but you need to make sure that it isn’t too hot so that you don’t kill the yeast. It should feel lukewarm, use a thermometer if you’re unsure, at least less than 90°F. Then you can add the yeast. One yeast package will make up to 5 gallons of mead, so if you’re doing 2 gallons you can just split one between the 2 jars.
how to make meadNow put the lid back on tightly and this time you’re really going to shake it up for several minutes. It’s a good workout for your arm muscles so you can skip the gym on days when you make mead!
homemade meadPut a little water in the airlock to the line, then put the rubber stopper into your jug. In a few hours, or at least by the next morning, you should see bubbles in your jar and in your airlock.
how to make meadThe whole top might get a little foamy at first, but things will settle down. I love watching all the little bubbles! Science rocks! (Can you see my hands in the reflection?)
Keep it in a cool (not cold) dark place. Mead takes longer to ferment than cider or beer, depending on the temperature it will take anywhere from 4-6 weeks. I usually give it 6 weeks to be on the safe side for bottling as you don’t want any explosions! I’ve definitely had some very champagne like mead before. You want to wait until you don’t see any bubbles and your airlock is still.
Bottling one or two gallons of mead is pretty much the same process as bottling cider. You may want to wait awhile to drink your mead as it definitely gets better with age, but I often drink it “green” (young) as I enjoy it either way. It is fun to save a couple of bottles for several months, or even a year, just to see how the taste changes with age.
If you make one gallon of mead, chances are you will soon want to make more! Lucky for you, I have also written a posts on How to Make 5 Gallons of Mead and How to Bottle 5 Gallons of Mead. I also have recipes for Wildflower Mead and Elderberry Mead that turned out delicious!
Cheers and happy mead making!