Small Batch Homemade Berry Mead
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Making homemade liquor for gifts and personal use from homegrown berries is a treat each year in our home. While City Spouse does not drink alcohol due to medical reasons, I still enjoy this homemade drink with family and friends.
To Note: If you have never brewed at home before, I highly recommend reading up on proper procedure, equipment and safety before beginning your brewing process. Mead is one of the easier drinks to brew, so it is a good starter project. Alway make sure to sterilize all of your equipment during your brewing process. It may seem tedious and like it’s overkill, but the knowledge that you will not be accidentally encouraging bad bacteria to grow will make up for the monotony.
What is Mead?
I get this question a lot when I talk about what I do with my homegrown berries. I also am questioned when I give it as gifts or take it to family gatherings during the holiday season. Essentially, mead is fermented honey. They yeast eats the sugar in your brew and creates alcohol as a by-product. The alcohol content varies from 8% up to 20% (you will want to measure your own brew for an accurate reading). Mead may be dry, sparkling, sweet, or semi-sweet, depending upon your brewing technique. Sometimes Mead is also referred to as “honey wine”.
What berries can I use?
Absolutely any that you like or any combination of berries you have on hand. I love blackberry mead and strawberry mead because those are the two most prolific berries that I harvest from my own backyard. Any combination of fruit may be used. I know of batches of grape, peach, apple and every possible fruit combination you can come up with.
The only recommendation I can give is to make sure you are using ripe, clean, organic fruits and berries in your brewing. Make sure all bad spots are cut and discarded, as well as inspecting your berries for signs of insects or disease. Any mold or other imperfections may affect the way that the yeast reacts.
Small Batch Homemade Berry Mead
- 1 quart honey
- 1 quart frozen or fresh berries
- 1 (5 gram) packet champagne yeast
- 3 quarts water
- Combine the honey, berries, and water in a large heavy bottomed pot.
- Heat the mixture over high heat, stirring constantly until the honey is completely dissolved. Do not boil.
- Pour the berry mixture into 2 sterilized 1-gallon glass jugs.
- Allow to completely cool to room temperature.
- Add the yeast (1/2 packet to each jug) and then plug with an airlock seal.
- Set aside in a warm, dark place to brew for 3 weeks undisturbed.
- After 3 weeks, use a siphon to transfer the mead clean jugs, making sure to not disturb the sediment in the bottom.
- Seal the jugs with the airlock tops and allow to set for another 3 weeks.
- After the second 3 weeks have passed, start tasting your mead to let ferment until it meets with your personal tastes.
- Siphon again once fermented to your liking.
Contrary to what you may think, this will not be a sweet wine. The “sweet” misconception comes from the brew being made with honey. However, during fermentation, all of the sugars will be eaten by the yeast to produce the alcohol within your beverage. If you prefer a sweeter tasting mead, you may back sweeten once the fermentation process has completed.
How to Back Sweeten
In order to make your mead sweeter, you will need to add a few more things to your brew to ensure that all fermentation has ceased. If you do not, disaster can strike, ruining all of your hard work and patience in creating your mead.
To your mead you will want to add potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfite.
Make sure that your mead is completely finished with the fermentation process. You can confirm this by making sure that you have taken readings with your hydrometer during the brewing process.
Add in your extra honey (1.2 oz to the above recipe). Lightly stir.
Allow mead to stand an additional 2 days before bottling just to ensure that fermentation has not accidentally reoccurred. Keeping an eye on bubbling in your airlock will confirm that there is no longer activity within the brew.
You may now bottle into recycled (sterilized) wine bottles, beer bottles, mason jars, or any airtight glass container of your choosing.