#11  
Old 08-13-2008, 09:33 AM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

Hehe Sarah, the niose allergy would be caused by the hens I want to keep, not the bees. For bees I just need to convince my husband we've got the space. Oh, and learn how to do it etc.

In Switzerland one of the main problems is that most beekeepers are old men, and they're having trouble motivating younger generations to take it up. That and various pests and mites.

Talking of animals in the garden, I once visited some people who had their own sheep (3 of them I believe). They'd sheare (is that how you write it??) the sheep, die the wool, spin it and then knit it into pullovers... Now that's what I call a homemade pullover! I'd love to do that!

I think WFO building must attract a certain back to nature I-can-do-that-myself type of person. But it still pretty amazing how much we seem to have in common besides having built a WFO.

Alfredo, that was a very usefull article, just what I was looking for. I think I've decided where my behives will go...
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  #12  
Old 08-14-2008, 07:04 AM
Ed_ Ed_ is offline
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

Shear the sheep, dye the wool.

I think you're right to a large degree about the sort of person who winds up here. There seems to be some common thread of interest in things like slow food, sustainable gardening, conservation, and so forth.

On the other hand, you have people like me claiming that some day Real Soon Now, we're going to start building an oven, honest. Doesn't mean I'm not interested in all the above-mentioned things; I might just be lazy.

Edit: Oh yeah, mead. If you're a willing guinea pig, I'd love to hear what you figure out!

Last edited by Ed_; 08-14-2008 at 07:06 AM. Reason: Futile effort to get back on topic
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  #13  
Old 08-14-2008, 11:01 AM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_ View Post
Shear the sheep, dye the wool.
Oooops

Love the reason for editing...
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:39 AM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

What, Swiss bees don't buzz?!

Although I said 'winter project' for me, I had just bought a jar of exceptionally nice honey and your mead post really piqued my interest, so, after finding a recipe I like the sound of, I have just returned from the winemaking supply store with a gallon jug and something called an air-lock (and a few other toys - isn't that always the way?). A few minutes of work once I get more honey, then just let it sit for a few months. My recipe has orange and spice, so I'm betting it'll be something nice to sip warmed up, as I'm outside cooking on those brisk fall days (coming all too soon).
We'll have to compare notes in a few weeks.

Sarah
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Old 08-19-2008, 07:22 AM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

Yay Sarah, good for you! Could you post the recipe now already? What proportion of honey did you add?

I've got some mead bubbling away now, too. The aproximate recipe for that is: 1 part honey to 2 parts water (by weight), one teaspoon of sourdough starter, one sliced lemon and various spices (hops, cinamon and cloves in this case).

We tried some of the blackberry "wine" the other day...

All I can say is, it definately has alcohol in it... though as to how much, your guess is as good as mine.
And with a spoonfull of honey added, it tastes... um... almost entirely unlike any wine I've ever drunk before. Nice though. Let's put it this way, there's still a full bottle left that I'd like to keep to see what happens when it matures a bit, but I'm not sure its going to get the chance.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:26 PM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

Hi Frances, sounds like you've got a winner with the blackberry wine!

Here (below) is the recipe I used for mead, as originally worded – it seems to exist in a number of places on the ‘net so I don’t think it’s a problem to post it here and I have included the name of the person originally responsible for posting it. Though I can’t vouch for how it will turn out, I saw a number of reports from people who had tried this recipe and they seemed happy with the results. It’s supposed to be an almost fool-proof recipe, great for beginners, and produces a good end product.

This recipe is apparently very unorthodox in it’s use of bread yeast (most use special wine yeast strains) and I have to say, from what I’ve read, wild yeast in particular seems to be considered an enemy to wine, or at least mead fermentation (as is too much air in the jug, certain bacteria, chlorine and light) – go figure – not really sure about the ‘ancient’ appellation either –

Anyway, so far, mine’s bubbling away … and smelling kind of like orange furniture polish, but it seems that’s normal at this stage.

What proportion of honey did I add? Well, this recipe is for an imperial gallon – that’s 160 fluid ounces (4.54 litres), or 10 pounds. The honey in this recipe accounts for about one third of that (3.5 lbs / 1.5 litres) – so honey to water is 1:2 (our recipes sound quite similar).

I used 25 golden raisins (they’re what we had and I decided to be precise with my first effort), 1 clove (I read where who used more than 1 or 2 were not happy they had), 2 sticks of cinnamon (they were small ones), a touch of allspice and no nutmeg (not a favourite of mine). I also took the rind off the orange and removed the white pith, since I have read the pith can make things bitter. I put only the inner orange and the outer rind in the jug. I don’t know if your bread yeast is Fleishmann’s, but it just means those tiny little beads of the dry kind.

Good luck if you try it!

Sarah

Joe Mattioli's Ancient Orange Mead

This is a great first Mead for the novice as it is almost fool-proof.

3½ lbs Clover or your choice honey or blend (will finish sweet)
1 large orange (later cut in eights or smaller rind and all)
1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
1 stick of cinnamon
1 whole clove ( or 2 if you like - these are potent critters)
optional (a pinch of nutmeg and allspice - very small)
1 teaspoon Fleishmann’s bread yeast (now don't get holy on me - after all this is an ancient mead and that's all we had back then)
Balance water to one gallon

Use a clean 1 gallon carboy

Dissolve honey in some warm water and put in carboy

Wash orange well to remove any pesticides and slice in eights - add orange (you can push em through opening - rinds included – it’s ok for this mead - take my word for it - ignore the experts).

Put in raisins, clove, cinnamon stick, any optional ingredients and fill to 3 inches from the top with cold water. (Need room for some foam - you can top off with more water after the first few day frenzy)

Shake the heck out of the jug with top on, of course. This is your sophisticated aeration process.

When at room temperature in your kitchen, put in 1 teaspoon of bread yeast. (No, you don't have to rehydrate it first-- the ancients didn't even have that word in their vocabulary - just put it in and give it a gentle swirl or not - the yeast can fight for their own territory.)

Install water airlock. Put in dark place. It will start working immediately or in an hour. (Don't use grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away in the 90's) After major foaming stops in a few days add some water and then keep your hands off of it. (Don't shake it! Don't mess with them yeastees! Let them alone, except it’s okay to open your cabinet to smell every once in a while.)

Racking --- Don't you dare
additional feeding --- NO NO
More stirring or shaking – You’re not listening, don't touch

After 2 months and maybe a few days it will slow down to a stop and clear all by itself. (How about that - you are not so important after all.) Then you can put a hose in with a small cloth filter on the end into the clear part and siphon off the golden nectar. If you wait long enough even the oranges will sink to the bottom but I never waited that long. If it is clear it is ready. You don't need a cold basement. It does better in a kitchen in the dark. (Like in a cabinet.) Likes a little heat (70-80F). If it didn't work out ... you screwed up and didn't read my instructions (or used grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away). If it didn't work out then take up another hobby. Mead is not for you. It is too complicated.
If you were successful, which I am 99% certain you will be, then enjoy your mead. When you get ready to make different mead you will probably have to unlearn some of these practices I have taught you, but hey - this recipe and procedure works with these ingredients so don't knock it. Sometimes, even the experts can forget all they know and make good ancient mead.

Enjoy, Joe
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:11 AM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

It's been 4 weeks and the activity in my little brown jug in the kitchen has slowed considerably - one airlock blurp every 12 or 13 seconds, as compared to one per second, or faster, when the yeast first got going. The smell has mellowed too.

I had a little sip last week - made me think 'watery orange beer' in a vague sort of way - clearly not done yet, but not unpleasant either.
I have a feeling it'll be done before 4 more weeks go by ...

Now I'm eying the ripe plums on my trees and wondering what I can do with those. I've been trying to figure out what kind they are - cherry-to-crabapple size, yellow with a very rosy overlay on the ripe ones, incredibly sour skins but really sweet pulp with a wonderful flavour! Some variety of Mirabelles maybe? Anyway, I think they may end up as preserves to put on some WFO bread ... but maybe plum brandy ... maybe both, if I can salvage some more .
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Old 09-15-2008, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

They sound like Mirabelles to me. Plum brandy, eh? Mmmmmm, be sure to post the recipe and tell me how it turns out.

Its funny you should post this just now, as I've been thinking about updating my mead/wine experiences, too.

So far I've started five fermentations with sourdough, three mead and two blackberry wine. Two of them went wrong: one blackberry started smelling of rotten eggs , and one mead smelt of nail varnish remover... this may have had something to do with using a pastic bowl which formerly held stuff for the compost. Hey, I did clean it first!

Talking of which, this seems like a really usefull page:
Winemaking: Wine Problems

The other three fermentations however started bubbling away like mad and didn't stop until every last bit of sugar had been consumed... seems the wild yeast is quite alcohol resistent. Which means I get a very dry and quite alcoholic result. It needs to be sweetened with honey before drinking, at least for drinking right away.

I've only been making small try-out batches so far, so I've only got a bottle each of wine and mead for maturing. And since I'm not adding any chemicals or anything to stop the fermentation, maturing might not work too well.

But I'd like to keep it all as simple and natural as possible. My thinking is that if you're using the ambient wild yeast from the sourdough, you don't have to worry about cantamination from wild yeasts... and so don't have to keep it all hermetically sealed off every step of the way. So, three out of five... is that a good result or not?

We like the taste of it so far anyway (adding hops to mead was a mistake though! ), so I'll keep on experimenting.

Pit we can't try each others' meads, Sarah. I'd love to know what yours tastes like!
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Last edited by Frances; 09-15-2008 at 12:48 AM.
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Old 09-27-2008, 07:33 AM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

Sounds like your meads are working out pretty well for the most part and you're right, it's too bad we can't exchange samples somehow ... I'm certain I could pack a small bottle well enough to survive the journey but I'm not sure whether it would get intercepted en route by customs and cause problems ...

No plums for brandy, as I massacred the few plums available for harvest in trying to make plum jam the old fashioned way, without pectin - it did not set but that was irrelevant since the skins (left on in ignorance) made it unbelievably sour!!!

Think I'll stick with mead and WFO cooking for now!
I've found some interesting research on fermented drinks and different yeasts but I want to see how the first batch finishes up before deciding what to do for my second.

About the mead that smelled like nail varnish remover - that's not necessarily a bad thing from what I've read, but more indicative of a stage in the process when certain ingredients are used, meaning only that it will need to age for longer than some others. If you still have it on hand, just put it away for a few more months. The rotten egg one, however - goodbye!
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Old 09-27-2008, 02:22 PM
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Default Re: Mead made with wild yeast

I keep bees and have most of my life. I have about ten gallons of honey headed to the mead bottles.
I have kept bees in suburbia and in the true urban environs rooftop beekeeping is done round the world particularly in italy and France. Honey production is not as prolific in the city
Bees are fascinating and fun you can spend a lifetime at the art

mead should be made with a vapor trap
berryst
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