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Irish Mead

Mead is often called honey wine as it’s brewed from honey, yeast and water. It has been around in Ireland for hundreds of years, first made in secrecy by Irish monks. In Celtic cultures, mead was seen as an aphrodisiac and a way of improving the chances of conceiving - it’s from this that the word ‘honeymoon’ is thought to come from as Irish newlyweds would drink honey wine every day after their wedding for one full moon. Traditionally it would have been made over a wood or turf fire and although the method has updated somewhat with the times it remains the same comforting liquor to soothe you from the bitter winds and damp climate. Mead has made a name for itself as an Irish wine and chefs and home cooks alike are finding new ways of incorporating mead in the kitchen using a variety of fruits and aromatics to flavour.

Ingredients

  • 6 jars
  • 300g local unprocessed honey
  • 3.5 litres mineral or spring water
  • 200g untreated raspberries (optional)
  • 12g packed wine yeast

Method

Step 1

In a saucepan, warm 1 litre of water with the honey to dissolve (note: don’t use tap water as it is chlorinated and will halt the fermentation). Remove from the heat and pour over the rest of the water in a demijohn (jug or container used to ferment the mead).

Step 2

You can take an alcohol reading using a refractometer and follow the instructions from the refractometer reading. Then, sprinkle the yeast over the honey water without stirring. Add in the berries. Place over the demijohn an airlock filled with some vodka to allow the fermentation to gas out without letting any airborne bacteria in.

Step 3

Set aside to ferment at a constant temperature of 20 ̊C minimum to 24 ̊C maximum for about 3 weeks until the fermentation stops (no more bubbles appearing). Avoid moving the demijohn while the fermentation is in process.

Step 4

Once the fermentation is finished, siphon the clear liquid into glass bottles and check the alcohol content using again a refractometer. Repeat this process for 3 more days to ensure the fermentation is completely ended (this will ensure the mead doesn’t explode if the fermentation is not finished).

Step 5

Set aside the mead and let the flavour develop for about one month or longer.

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Kevin Dundon
I'm the chef and owner of Dunbrody Country House located in Ireland's sunny South East and love using the produce from my own garden.