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Make A Cherry Mead (A Melomel)
Mead is terrific plain. But for me there is something absolutely spectacular about a mead when you add fruit to it and let it ferment those wonderful fruit flavors. In this tutorial I show you how to make a fruit mead or what we call a cherry melomel.
This tutorial is a bit more advanced than my regular tutorials. This particular recipe is for someone that is a tad more advanced in mead making - or... a person who wants to make a really fine mead and is willing to spend a few dollars. And by a few dollars I mean maybe an extra twenty dollars for a variety of chemical that are important in the process of mead making.
If you want to make a simple cherry melomel without all the chemicals I do have a video tutorial for that. It is a basic recipe that still comes out great. But, it generally will take longer to clear, and will take longer to age then reach its peak in a shorter time.
This recipe is not a lot of work but it will take you two days. On the first day you mix it up and on the second day you pitch the yeast into it.
Want to use some other kind of fruit? Simple! Just use a pound of your fruit of choice. If you use some kind of a citrus fruit then don't add the orange juice!
Here is a picture of everything we need to make this Cherry Melomel
1 Gallon of water
1 pound of cherries, any type
1 packet of champagne yeast
1 cup of orange juice
1 gallon jug
Airlock with drilled stopper
Solid stopper for jug
3 pounds of clover honey (clover honey works best for this and 3 pounds is about 1 quart)
The various chemicals Needed: ( bought all of these from a company called Leeners.com for 15 dollars + shipping. )
Easy Clean - Sanitizes all your equipment
Yeast Nutrient - feeds the yeast
Wine tannin - balances the wine
Pectic enzyme - breaks down the cherries to give more flavor and will speed up the clarity
Acid Blend - balances the ph of the wine - honey is low ph and could use this boost
Campden Tablets - sanitizes and stabilizes the mead with fruit
Use your sanitizer (easy Clean) or some other kind to sanitize everything that will come in contact with the mead, spoons, bowls, jug, corks etc.
This is not cleaning the equipment, it is sanitizing the equipment so no stray yeast or bacteria can contaminate the batch.
You can use 1 tbs of unscented bleach per gallon of water rather than easy clean. Just rinse everything off after sanitizing with it.
Remove the stems and pits from your cherries then quarter them. Get them into thin slices so they will later fit into the jug! If you have a two gallon fermentation pail you don't have to quarter them you can just halve them.
Put your three pounds of honey and about one half gallon of water in a large pan and slowly heat it up. Bring it to just under a boil.
Skim off any foam that rises. These are impurities. The real purpose of this isn't to sanitize the honey and water. It is to get a nice homogenous mix of honey and water, draw out the flavors of the honey and of the cherries.
Remove it from the heat and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes then add the cherries.
Let it cool completely to room temperature then pour the whole mix into your jug or your fermentation pail. It can be a challenge to get it all into the jug but use a funnel, a measuring cup with a spout or any other means necessary. Take your time and just get it all into the jug. This is why we sliced the cherries so thin.
Then add to the jug:
Your cup of orange juice ( for acid and food for the yeast)
1 teaspoon of acid blend (this balances the acid of the honey)
1 teaspoon of pectic enzyme (this breaks down the fruit and clarifies the mead)
1 campden tablet (crush it first) (This sanitizes the cherries of wild yeasts)
Add more water to fill it just past the shoulder. Tomorrow we will top it off with more water.
1 teaspoon of nutrient
1 teaspoon of wine tannin
Now stir it up gently or shake it gently so it is nice and mixed then either cover it with a cloth or put the rubber stopper and set it aside for 24 hours. Yes, you have to set it aside for a full day because if you were to put the yeast in there now the campden tablet would kill it!
The Next Day
Now you can make your yeast starter. I recommend you follow the instructions on the package of yeast. Just do whatever it tells you to do! Some people make yeast starters but I don't see any need for it. Typically you add the yeast to warm water, stir it and let it sit for a half hour to an hour. It should get bubbly and frothy. This means the yeast is active. You gently pitch this into jug you made yesterday and stir or shake the jug gently.
Add a bit more water to fill the jug up to the base of the neck and you are done. Fill the airlock half way with water and put it on the jug.
Rack it once a month for six months then bottle it. It will be ready to drink at about one year from the day you made the batch.
Make the easier cherry mead with less chemicals? This video shows you how:
This is the book I have been using and it is pretty much the de-facto standard for meadmakers. If you want lots of information, recipes, history and lots of great stuff about mead and how to make it then this is the book you must have.