The Quick & Cheap Mead Method
Here's a recipe to make a gallon of mead using ingredients you can buy at your local store and no special equipment. No hard-to-get artisan honey, no special mead yeast, no carboys or bottling equipment. The cost of everything will run you about $15 and you can have the mead ready to ferment in about 30 minutes.
I’m not sure where this recipe originated from, but I first discovered it on stormthecastle.com, along with a wealth of other good information on mead brewing.
What you'll need
- 3 lbs of pure unprocessed honey
- 1 gallon of spring water
- 1 bag of balloons, big enough to stretch over the mouth of the gallon jug
- 1 package of Fleishmann's yeast
- 25 raisins
- 1 orange
- 1 clove
- a safety pin, or needle
- a funnel
Pour about half of the water into a clean container. Cut your orange lengthwise into eighths. I removed the rind from half of the orange slices because I didn't want it to be as bitter. Put the orange slices, twenty-five raisins, honey, clove, and the yeast into the jug. heat up a small amount of water and pour it into one of the honey containers using a funnel. Swish it back and forth between the two containers, so no honey goes to waste. Pour it back into the jug, along with some more water so the level is a couple of inches from the top. Put the cap on it and shake it for a good five minutes. This aerates the mixture, which helps the yeast be more productive.
Remove the cap from your jug and put the balloon right over the mouth of the jug, so that as the gases form inside the jug they will inflate the balloon. With a safety pin or needle, poke a pinhole in the top of the balloon. If necessary, put a rubber band or tape around the neck to keep it firmly in place. Leave it out on a counter for the first day so you can monitor it.
The balloon will start to inflate at some point between an hour to twenty-four hours later. In using a balloon as an airlock, gases escape but no contaminants get into your mead. If the balloon inflates too much, you may need to poke another few holes—but be careful not to pop the balloon. Once the gases are escaping and the balloon is not under unusual stress you can set the jug in a cool dry place like a kitchen cabinet or a closet. Check on it every day to make sure the balloon is still secure.
After two to three weeks the majority of fermentation will be complete and the balloon will be limp. You can taste it to see how it is coming along but it will need another couple of months before it fully matures. Also, the longer it is able to age, the more clear it will become. If you want to help mellow the flavor after the two to three weeks of fermentation, you can transfer the contents (without the orange, clove, and raisins) into another clean plastic jug with a balloon airlock. This process is called racking.
For future recipes, you can add a vanilla bean or a cinnamon stick and an allspice berry. Enjoy!