The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year—the middle of summer—and has been celebrated in a myriad of ways and by a myriad of names all across the world. It is mid-June here in the northern hemisphere, and it is wedding season! Traditionally, it was also the time to harvest honey for fermentation into mead, and it was such an important occasion the old European name for June’s full moon was once the Honey Moon or Mead Moon. The phrase “honeymoon” can even trace at least a fraction of its origin to a tradition of being gifted mead or drinking it together during the first period of marriage for sweetness in love.
Making a batch of homemade mead is a perfect and delicious way to celebrate the season, and Midsummer mead is a welcome offering at your alter, not just to newlyweds.
For One Gallon of Homemade Mead:
- Sanitize everything!
- Heat one-half to two-thirds a gallon of filtered or distilled water in a large pot.
- Remove from heat and dissolve two to three pounds of honey into the water; more honey yields a sweeter mead.
- Add the honey water and approximately one pound of your fruit(s) of choice to a one-gallon jug. This mixture is called the must. Dried herbs such as clove, cinnamon, or mint are also great additions. Be creative!
- Add a few pinches of raisins to the mixture to help feed the yeast; it does not affect the flavor and is optional.
- Top off the jug with any unused filtered/distilled water if needed, leaving two inches of space at the top. Fermentation gets bubbly!
- Cap the jug and let cool until room temperature; too high a temperature will kill your yeast.
- Now to pitch the yeast. Add at least a half teaspoon of yeast to the must. Brewer’s yeast, white wine yeast, champagne yeast, or even all-purpose or bread yeast will work!
- Cap the jug again and give it a hefty shake.
- Attach the carboy according to its style and store your mead in a moderately cool and dark place to ferment for four to eight weeks. Mead will only get better with age, so if it isn’t quite to your liking on the first taste, put it away again for another month!