“…Valhall’s blushing maids round-proffer
the Mead-Horns, rich with foam of gold, . . .”
“At last Gandalf pushed away his plate and jug – he had eaten two whole loaves (with masses of butter and honey and clotted cream) and drunk at least a quart of mead – and he took out his pipe.”
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
What is mead? Mead is a honey liquor. Rich sweet absolutely heavenly. I love mead. It’s just absolutely delicious.
I’ve made a few different meads, so right now I’m just going to toss the different ones up for people to try. It’s easy to make, they are just absolutely perfect for beginners. These are very old recipes, given to me by a family friend.
10 quarts of honey
30 quarts of water
1 ounce of cinnamon
1 ounce of cloves
2 ounces of ginger
2 large nutmegs
The honey boiled one hour with the water; when cold, put it into a cask, and add to it the cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmegs, to be pounded first, and suspended in a linen bag in the barrel from the bung-hole. The scum must be filtered through a flannel bag.
8 gallons of spring water
12 pounds of honey
4 pounds of powdered sugar
2 or 3 lemon-peels
Take the spring water, honey, powdered sugar; boil them for an hour, keeping it well skimmed. Let it stand all night; the next day, put it into your vessel, keeping back the sediment; hang in your vessel the lemon-peels; then stop it up close; in the summer, bottle it in six weeks.
Sassafrass mead (Sassafras contains safrole a cancer causing agent Complete historical appreciation DO NOT MAKE)
Mix gradually with boiling water brown sugar, West India molasses, and tartaric acid. Stir it well and when cool, strain it into a large jug or pan, then mix in essence of sassafras. Transfer it to clean bottles (it will fill about half a dozen), cork it tightly and keep it in a cool place. It will be fit for use next day. Put into a box or boxes a quarter of a pound of carbonate of soda, to use with it. To prepare a glass of sassafras mead for drinking, put a large tablespoonful of the mead into half a tumbler full of ice-water, stir into it a half teaspoonful of the soda and it will immediately foam up to the top.
Sassafras mead will be found a cheap, wholesome and pleasant beverage for warm weather. The essence of sassafras, tartaric acid and carbonate of soda, can, of course, be obtained at the druggist’s.
12 gallons of water
8 pounds of sugar
2 quarts of honey
a few cloves
3 spoonfuls of new yeast
8 or 9 lemons
2 or 3 pennyworth of isinglass
Take the water, sugar, honey, and cloves, when your pan boils take the whites of eight or ten eggs, beat them very well, put them into your water before it be hot, and whisk them very well together; do not let it boil but skim it as it rises till it has done rising, then put it into your tub; when it is about blood warm put to it the yeast; take the lemons, pare them and squeeze out the juice, put them both together into your tub, and let them work two or three days, then put it into your barrel, but it must not be too full; take the isinglass, cut as small as you can, beat it in a mortar about a quarter of an hour, it will not make it small; but that it may dissolve sooner, draw out a little of the mead into a quart mug, and let it stand within the air of the fire all night; take the whites of three eggs, beat them very well, mix them with your isinglas, whisk them together, and put them into your barrel, bung it up, and when it is fine bottle it.
1 quart of honey
3 quarts of water
whites of 4 or 5 eggs
2 or 3 spoonfuls of light yeast, according to the quantity of your mead
Put your honey into the water, when it is dissolved, take the whites, whisk and beat them very well together and put them into your pan; boilit while the skim rises, and skim it very clean; put it into your tub,when it is warm put in the yeast, and let it work two nights and a day. To every gallon put in a large lemon, pare and strain it, put the juice and peel into your tub, and when it is wrought put it into your barrel; let it work for three or four days, stir twice a day with a thible, so bung it up, and let it stand two or three months, according to the hotness of the weather.
You must try your mead two or three times in the above time, and if you find the sweetness going off, you must take it sooner.
Strong mead another way
30 quarts of water
10 quarts of honey
1/2 ounce of hops, pick’d clean from the stalks
1/4 ounce of ginger sliced
To the water, put the honey, let the water be pretty warm, then break in the honey, stirring it till it be all dissolv’d, boil it a full half hour, when clean scum’d that no more will rise, put in the hops, half the ginger, and boil it a quarter of an hour longer; then lade it out into the stand thro’ a hair-tems, and put the remainder of the ginger in, when it is cold tun it into the vessel, which must be full; but not clay’d up till near a month: make it the latter end of September, and keep it a year in the vessel after it is clay’d up.
6 gallons of water
14 pounds of honey
3 or 4 eggs
10 sprigs balm
10 sprigs sweet marjoram
10 sprigs sweet briar
1/2 ounce of cinnamon
the same of mace
1/2 race of ginger sliced very thin
6 ounces of syrup of citron
1 spoonful of ale yest
1 quart of the best Rhenish wine
In the water dissolve the honey; then add the eggs, with the whites; set it upon the fire, and let it boil half an hour. Put into it balm, sweet marjoram, and sweet briar, cinnamon, mace, cloves, and ginger; let it boil a quarter of an hour; then take it off the fire, pour it into a tub, and let it remain till nearly cold. Take the syrup of citron, and ale yest; beat them well together, put it into the liquor, and let it stand till cold. Take a sufficient quantity of coarse bread to cover the barrel, and bake it very hard; then take as much ale yest as will spread it over thin, put it into the liquor, and let it stand till it comes to a head. Strain it out; put the liquor into a cask, and add to it the Rhenish wine. When it has done working, stop it up close, and let it stand a month; then draw it out into bottles; tie the corks down close; and let them stand a month.
Mix your mead in the proportion of thirty-six ounces of honey to four quarts of warm water; when the honey is completely held in solution, pour it into a cask. When fermented, and become perfectly clear, bottle and cork it well. If properly prepared, it is a pleasant and wholesome drink; and in summer particularly grateful, on account of the large quantity of carbonic acid gas which it contains. Its goodness, however, depends greatly on the time of bottling, and other circumstances, which can only be acquired by practice.
Methlin or honey wine (mead was originally called hydromel, then methlin, then meth, then mead)
This is a very ancient and popular drink in the north of Europe. To some new honey, strained, add spring water; put a whole egg into it; boil this liquor till the egg swims above the liquor; strain, pour it in a cask. To every fifteen gallons add two ounces of white Jamaica ginger, bruised, one ounce of cloves and mace, one and one-half ounces of cinnamon, all bruised together and tied up in a muslin bag; accelerate the fermentation with yeast; when worked sufficiently, bung up; in six weeks draw off into bottles.
Boil the combs, from which the honey has been drained, with sufficient water to make a tolerably sweet liquor; ferment this with yeast and proceed as per previous formula.
Sack Mead is made by adding a handful of hops and sufficient brandy to the comb liquor.