Blackberry Mead

We have a lot of free blackberries growing in the field behind our house. The field was cleared 3 years ago to develop houses on and then the company went bankrupt. Anyways, I know that the berries have not been sprayed and we have picked them several times now to use in a cobbler and Melody made a blackberry soda with her berries using a blackberry syrup. I got the other supplies at the beer and wine supply store we have near us. You can also order these things online (like the yeasts, bottles, etc. but I don’t know about shipping all the heavier things). In 2000 I made wine after I got a whole setup for Christmas from my Dad. I have the basic items already so I only had to buy the honey and the yeast for this as well as a couple of smaller carboys with airlocks.

This is the recipe I used.

Blackberry Mead

3 pounds of raw honey
3 pounds of blackberries (give or take)
1 gallon water boiled if from tap
3/4 package of champagne yeast

All your equipment must be sanitized or sterilized before use. Ordinary unscented household bleach does the job fine. Put all the equipment (including the lid and stirring spoons) into the fermentation bucket, fill with water, and add 2 teaspoons of unscented bleach. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Drain the water through the spigot, rinse everything in hot water, and allow to air-dry.

Bring the 4 1/2 gallons of water to a boil. Well water, by the way, should be avoided because of potentially high levels of strong tasting minerals like iron. Boiling should remove chlorine from municipal tap water. If you don’t own a pot large enough to hold five gallons of water, boil as much as possible. You will add the remaining water to the fermenter later.

Once the water reaches a boil, remove it from the heat.

Wait until the water is cooled and then disolve the honey in the water. Do not boil the honey, as it reduces the aromatic quality of the finished mead.

Take a cup of lukewarm water out of the pot and sprinkle the yeast in it.

When the pot is cool to the touch (not over 80°F), pour the honey-water into the fermentation bucket and stir in the yeast mixture. Then add the blackberries in.

Seal the bucket and allow the mixture to ferment for two weeks. The progress of fermentation can judged by monitoring the carbon-dioxide bubbles escaping from the air lock: When they drop to one bubble every sixty seconds, fermentation has nearly concluded. Note that is only an issue during this primary fermentation; secondary fermentation has more to do with aging and mellowing and hence is more flexible. When primary fermentation has subsided, siphon the mead over to your secondary fermentation bucket or carboys and seal it with an airlock. Allow one to four months aging time. Do not open the fermenter, as this risks contaminating the mead.

When you decide it has matured enough (and the mead has cleared), you will want to siphon it into sterilized bottles and cap them.

Mead typically improves with age, so the longer you can wait to open the bottles, the better.

*  Mead is more expensive to make than fruit wine unless you have a free source of honey. I plan to make blackberry wine once the blackberry mead is out of the bucket.

* You can try to contact local wineries in your area to see if they have leftover or B grade grapes. They sometimes do as they only use the best ones for their wines. You are crushing them and adding sugar anyways so it’s completely fine. Our local wine and beer supply is getting grapes from the Yakima Valley soon and I still can’t decide if I should buy some or not.

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