Mead Lover's Digest #49 Fri 04 December 1992

Forum for Discussion of Mead Brewing and Consuming
John Dilley, Digest Coordinator


Re: Milk and Honey (Fritz Keinert)
milk and honey (Jane Beckman)
answers (in no particular order) (Jane Beckman)
re:pear options (R.) Cavasin" <>
mead questions ("Daniel F McConnell")

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Date: Thu, 03 Dec 92 08:29:17 CST
From: Fritz Keinert <>
Subject: Re: Milk and Honey

Daniel F McConnell <> writes

> … I was gently heating a gallon of whole milk containing 2.5 lb of
> honey … Fermentation proceeded well. Racking produced a
> revelation…this stuff tastes like sweetened Devon cream! No
> sour-milk taste at all. What is this? Has anyone else tried
> something similar?

Not quite that similar, but still: Years ago, I experimented with
making liqueurs. One recipe I tried is for an Irish liqueur called
Bainnecor, which is milk based (milk, sugar, Everclear, lemon juice).
The lemon juice makes the milk curdle, and over the course of a few
weeks the curds rise to the top, and you are left with an almost clear
liquid without any milk taste at all. (I can't remember the details,
but it tasted fine, just not what you would expect from milk). The
curds were pretty good, too.

Anyway, I am not too surprised that there is no sour milk taste in
your recipe. Alcohol seems to be quite a preservative. There are
other liqueurs I made, based on raw egg yolks and stuff, that kept for
months without refrigeration.

Keep us posted on what develops.

There is also some fermented drink called Kumiss made from horse milk.
Comes from the Huns or Mongols or something. Also, didn't the Eskimos
ferment seal milk or something? Now, where did I see that mentioned…

Fritz Keinert phone: (515) 294-5223
Department of Mathematics fax: (515) 294-5454
Iowa State University e-mail:
Ames, IA 50011

Date: Thu, 3 Dec 92 10:58:55 PST
From: (Jane Beckman)
Subject: milk and honey

Hmm, kumiss-mead. Sounds like you might be in the process of inventing
(or possibly re-inventing) something like a kumiss/kefir cross. Let us
know if it actually ferments out. I'm not sure what the boiling would
do to it. (The resemblence to Devonshire cream is not accidental. Devon
cream is made by boiling cream.)

The folks I know who have made kumiss have always used unscalded milk. For
those of you who have never had kumiss, imagine alcoholic, slightly
sparkling, milk, with a slightly nutty taste. Weird as it sounds, the stuff
is wonderful! If I were actually making a kumiss-mead, I would have boiled
up the honey mix, then added it to the milk (uncooked milk) and proceeded
from there. Scalding changes the structure of the milk, so I'm not sure if
it will incorporate with the mead wort terribly well—probably why there's
cheesy floating material. I'll BET it would be good on wheaties, though!

Keep us posted!

Jilara []

Date: Thu, 3 Dec 92 11:26:20 PST
From: (Jane Beckman)
Subject: answers (in no particular order)

There seem to be two schools of thought on mead. There are scientific types
who like to treat it like beer, and there are some of us are by-guess-and-by-
gosh folks who use period sources and/or do a lot of experimenting. My
sources probably wouldn't appeal to you, because the recipes are mostly
18th century, and very approximate. (Good recipes in Eleanor Sinclair Rhonde's
"A Garden of Herbs," from Dover, for you others.) We're the ones who say
"Gee, I wonder what this batch would taste like if I pour a quart of pear
juice into it?" and keep experimenting with untried ingredients.

I tend to favor top-fermenting ale yeast, myself. It really depends on the
overall finish you want for your mead, what kind of yeast you use. I can,
however, tell you, that using wine yeast gives a totally different
character of mead. Funnily enough, kind of wine-like.

Likewise, spices. If you're making a metheglin (fruit mead), the spices
give it a nice balance. I find plain honey mead slightly insipid, myself.
I tend to use some stick cinnamon and a couple cloves as a matter of course.

I just toss some orange or lemon juice into mine, for acid balance. One
orange or lemon per 2-3 gallons of wort.

Initial gravity/honey-to-water ratio is personal taste. I like my mead on
the dry side. I use 5 lbs of honey to 2 gallons of water. If you like
sweeter mead, increase the ratio.

I always boil my must. This gives me a chance to skim off the scum that
always rises to the top, to get rid of impurities. I simmer it for about
an hour, always skimming.


Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1992 16:21:00 +0000
From: "Rick (R.) Cavasin" <>
Subject: re:pear options

John Wyllie asks about Pears. Unfortunately, it might be too late to
get fresh pears at a decent price. Some month or so ago, I bought
a bushel of 'junk' pears at the local farmers market for $5.
Although they were going brown inside, very few were actually rotten.
I cored/quartered them, put them it zip lock freezer bags and froze
them. When I had my yeast starter going and was ready to process them,
I defrosted the pears slowly (left them in the garage overnight).
The juice was just oozing from them.
I think pre-freezing the fruit is definitely the way to go.
Although it may not have been necessary, I ground them up in a small
handcranked meat grinder, and placed the pulp in a nylon mesh bag.
I found that I could extract a fair bit of the juice manually without
the press, just by putting my weight on the bag (doing about 2 quarts
of pulp at a time – the press is a small table-top model).
After using the press to get the last bit out, I found I extracted
about 2/3 of the weight of the pears as juice (I got 10 litres of
juice from 15 Kg of pears). The S.G. of the juice was about 1.045.
The pears were some variety of Bartlett. The juice was brown and
cloudy like a standard apple cider.
I pasturized this juice by heating to 160F for about 15min and then
immersing the pot in cold water. The juice is currently fermenting
with Wyeast European Ale yeast and tastes great so far (does not have
the tang of an apple cider though). Figuring that the pulp might still
contain a fair bit of flavour, I put it in some pre-boiled honey must
and let it stew for a bit. The pulp/must was then squeezed out
again. This must ended up with a S.G. of 1.054, and is fermenting
separately with the same yeast. It tastes good too, but more of honey
than of pears (the two flavours are fairly complementary). This second
pressing may not have been worth the bother, but we'll wait and see.
If you can get pears at a very cheap price, I think it's worth starting
with fresh pears. If you're paying alot for the pears (as you might
if you went for canned pears), you may be better off checking out the
health food stores for unpreserved pear juice (or pear nectar, as long
as there isn't anything really offensive added). When pricing the
options, figure on extracting about 2/3 of the weight of whole pears as
juice (this is where metric comes in handy ;). I'm not sure if
fermenting on the pulp is a viable option, since you might have trouble
separating out the pulp later without oxidizing the perry.
I think the subtleness of the pear's flavour should be taken into
account when formulating a recipe. Over-dilution and addition of
strong competing flavours might not be good ideas.
Cheers, Rick C.

Date: 3 Dec 1992 21:40:10 -0500
From: "Daniel F McConnell" <>
Subject: mead questions

Subject: Time:9:36 PM

OFFICE MEMO mead questions

In MLD# 48, Michael Galloway asks some questions:
I think I can help with some.

Yeast Use wine yeast, any type you desire. Pure cultures (liquid), not dry,
to achieve the best results. Dry wine yeasts are as disgusting as dry beer
Acid Since you are familiar with acid titration, use the same acid/sugar taste
guidelines as you would for white wine.
Sanitation Again you can use the same guidelines as for white wine, ie.
campden at absolute minimum concentrations (be sure to take pH into
consideration). Low pH results in the requirement of less than 1 campden
tablet/gal. This is a "safe" method of producing fully aromatic meads.
Boiling is also safe, but reduces the aromatics, and seems to produce
nasty/funky off-flavors that take years to mellow out. Also, sterile (0.22
mic) filtration is good for those that can access the equipment. An "unsafe"
method is to use no treatment. I have had good luck by pitching a large
(5-10%) active yeast culture and no sterilization of must. Of course all other
equipment was sanitized.

Gravity: Again, think about wine targets of 19-21Bx, higher for a sweet result.

Generally, <2.0 lb/gal= dry, >2.5 lb/gal=sweet.

Good luck


There are no dumb questions only dumb answerers.

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