Mead, also popular as honey wine, is an alcoholic drink produced by the fermentation of water and honey mixture. Often, the mead recipe requires the fermentation of grain mash along with honey and water, after which, the mash is immediately strained off after the completion of the fermentation process. Mead has several local recipes and so, differently flavored meads are common to find, which can be either flavored with fruits, spices or hops. The flavored meads may have a bitter taste with a beer like flavor. The alcohol content in mead varies from 8 percent ABV to 18 percent and the drink can be sparkling, still or carbonated and sweet, dry or semi-sweet.
History of Mead Recipe
Mead has been in popular existence since the ancient times throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. Some historians even claim that mead originated in the pre-historic times and is believed to be the first ancestor of all kinds of fermented drinks. The first archaeological evidence of mead production dates back to around 7000 B.C. In Northern China, pottery vessels filled with mixture of rice, fruits and mead and some organic fermentation compounds were discovered. In Europe, evidence of mead usage was supported residual samples in ceramics belonging to the Bell Beaker culture.
Some historians also claim that the drink was discovered during the medieval age by the Irish monks, which first became popular in entire Ireland before spreading to the other Celtic nations. The alcoholic beverage finds the first documented mention in the Indian Rigveda hymns dating back around 1700 and 1100 BC. Mead is also said to have been the most preferred beverage in Ancient Greece during the Golden Age. The drink also finds mention in Aristotle’s Meterorologica and Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia. The first mead recipe was found in De re rustica authored by Columella, a Spanish-Roman naturalist. Besides, this honey wine has found several mentions in Celtic literature, epics, Gaelic poetry and Irish folklores.
Ingredients Used and Popular Methods of Preparation of Mead Recipe
The basic ingredients of mead are water and honey, which are mixed and fermented with yeast. Meads can come in three different varieties. Often grains or grapes are also added to the recipe alongside different assorted spices and other fruits for varying tastes and flavors. Generally, one part of honey is mixed with three parts of distilled water, which is then boiled for several minutes with constant stirring and then cooled down to form “must.” Adding grapes to the recipe hastens the fermentation of the honey wine. To the must, yeast is mixed in a large container like a gallon wine jug whose mouth should then be sealed tightly with a stretched, holed balloon for the carbon dioxide gas to escape from the holes. After the hygrometer shows a 10 percent drop in the specific gravity of the mead from its starting point, it is bottled. The drink is mostly aged for several months before being sold or drunk. A classic mead recipe with spices requires the mixing warm spring water with honey, which is then simmered till the formation of scum. To this mixture, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger roots, Jamaica pepper, nutmegs and mace are mixed. A while later, lemon juice, sweet briar and rosemary sprig is also added and the mixture is boiled for some time, before being bottled into a clean earthen pot, strained and aged for three months before being served.
Serving and Drinking Mead
Mead finds a prominent place in the Irish wedding ceremonies. These drinks are best served chilled or warmed accompanied by fares made from turkey or chicken. The drink is also specifically enjoyed along with cabbage and corned beef or an Irish stew as a part of the St. Patty’s Day feast. Mead is also a favored choice for making cocktails especially in combination in sangrias, spritzers and wine highballs. This honey wine is also often used in cooking meat recipes, marinating fruits and as salad dressings.
Popular Variations in Mead Recipe
- Mead comes in several variations. Some of the best known variations of mead are as follows -
- Trójniak – This is a Polish version made with two parts of water and one part of honey.
- Acan - This is a Native Mexican version of mead.
- Acerglyn - This version is made by combining maple syrup and honey.
- Bochet – This mead prepared by mixing caramelized honey with water, comes in flavors of marshmallow, chocolate and toffee.
- Black mead – This mead recipe is made by mixing honey and blackcurrants.
- Capsicumel – This honey wine is infused with chile peppers.
- Chouchenn – This mead made in Brittany.
- Midus – This is Lithuanian mead prepared by combining berry juice and natural bee honey with infusions of acorn, carnation blossom, acorn, juniper berries, poplar buds and different other herbs.
- White mead – This mead recipe is a white colored version of the honey wine made from herbs, egg whites or fruits.