Mead from wild yeast

We had some extra honey from our beehive this year, so we decided to make mead the old fashioned way, with just the natural yeast available in the air and honey. Shannon found an another post online, so before I knew it, she had the honey and water in a big pot!  This is the story of our adventure, and what we learned about wild fermentation of honey wine.  Most of the articles we found online about wild fremented mead went like this:  stick some honey in water and wait a long time.  Drink when it tastes good.

IMG_2637

Batch 1, Day 4 just after bubbles are showing up. Smells yeasty!

First Batch:

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups uncapped, strained, raw honey (was pretty thick, though)
  • 5.5 quarts water (San Francisco, with chloramine, not chlorine)

Notes:

  • Started Oct 3, 2013.
  • Stir several times a day, trying to get air into the liquid to help the yeast multiply.
  • IMG_2638

    Batch 1, Day 6, with more bubbles. It never really got more frothy than this, though.

    Day 3: Smells like bread/yeast

  • Day 5: Bubbles were present, and spoon that we left in the pot was coated with yeast if we brought it up slowly to look.
  • Day 9: Transferred to a 3 gallon carboy, specific gravity=1.082
  • Day 23: Racked into 1-gallon jug and 1/2 gallon milk jug. specific gravity= 1.070. Tastes sweet and tangy, bubbly on the tongue.
  • More notes in 6 months or so when we rack/bottle it…

Second Batch:

IMG_2658After reading more about making mead, and making wild fermentations, we realized that mead was typically a very slow ferment.  The yeast need some extra nutrition that doesn’t show up in the plain raw honey, so I decided to try adding some honeycomb (some old recipes say to include dead larve also!) to add some nitrates to feed the yeast initially.  I also wanted to see how different flavors would be different than the plain mead we made earlier, so I decided to make another batch with apples and some honeycomb, but all the honeycomb I had was already crushed;  oh well, I’ll strain it out…

IMG_2659Ingredients:

  • 4 cups strained, raw honey from our stores
  • 4 quarts water (San Francisco, with chloramine, not chlorine)
  • 705g apples, quartered, probably golden delicious (from neighbor’s tree)
  • 1 fist-sized chunk of honeycomb, most was pre-crushed…

Notes:

  • IMG_2660Oct 26, 2013:  Stir several times a day, trying to get air into the liquid to help the yeast multiply.
  • Day 1: Specific gravity 1.110
  • Day 5: Bubbles were noticeable.
  • Day 7: Lots more bubbles than batch 1.  Either the apples or the honeycomb is making it much more fizzy!  Smashed apples with a potato masher to increase the surface area and apple flavor.