Mead Lover's Digest #0680 Mon 22 June 1998


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor



Buckwheat honey response ("Pete Miller")
Mead drinking containers (Darragh Nagle)
RE: Prickly Pear Mead, MLD #679 (Martin Fredrickson)
Re: question re: citric acid ("Marc Shapiro")
Re: Homebrew Digest Request (June 17, 1998) (John Wilkinson)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #679, 16 June 1998 (Buckwheat Mead) ("Mike Kidulich")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #676, 5 June 1998 ("Shane Gray")
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #675, 1 June 1998 ("Shane Gray")
Re: melon mead (Joyce Miller)
Re: Period Fruits (Joyce Miller)
siphons; fruits; Renfrow; containers (Samuel Mize)
Mead of the Israelites (r l reid)
Raspberry Chocolate mead (Richard Weiss)


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Subject: Buckwheat honey response
From: "Pete Miller" <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 07:05:39 PDT

>Has anyone ever made a mead with Buckwheat honey? I just bought a
>bucket of this honey and was wondering if it would be better off as a
>sweet mead or a dry mead. I presume that since it has a strong
>flavour on its own it would not be a good idea to use this for a

I became the owner of 60 lb. of Buckwheat honey several years ago and
have been experimenting with it since, but since you can count on MUCH
longer aging periods with this type of honey, I am still learning what
is best done with it.

Previous posts to this digest yield mixed opinion about the resulting
flavor about Buckwheat honey: some like it, some don't. Most agree
that because of the strong flavor it will take longer for the mead to
reach its prime.

My own experiments include: pure Buckwheat honey mead, a combination of
Buckwheat honey with milder honey, and cyser. In all cases, before 2
years of aging, the mead has the flavor (to my nose) of lousy bourbon.
After 2-3 years, however, the undesirable flavors mellowed into the
background and more appropriate mead flavors became apparent. It is
nevertheless a bit earthy.

The best resulting mead was the cyser. This summer, I decided the
opposite of your suggestion, that a combination of fruit plus the earthy
feel of the Buckwheat honey would be interesting, so I am trying three
experimental recipes using blueberries, blackberries, and rasperries
respectively. I am shooting for a mildly sweet result, as I don't care
for overly sweet meads, but I think that some residual sweetness will
balance the final flavor of the "buckwheat-ness".

Pete "Moss" Miller

Subject: Mead drinking containers
From: Darragh Nagle <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 07:19:29 -0700 (PDT)

The Mazer, and stemmed glasses of all kinds, owe their
invention to the drinking bowl, which was eventually
attached to its stand for convenience. After drinking
the contents of the bowl, it became harder and harder
to locate the stand.

Here is an old carol about wassailing, from the English
Book of Carols, which documents the bowl:

Wassail, Wassail, all over the town,
Our bread it is white and ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the green maple tree;
In the Wassail bowl we'll drink unto thee.

Here's a health to the ox and to his right eye,
Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie,
A good Christmas pie as e'er I did see.
In the Wassail bowl we'll drink unto thee.

Here's a health to the ox and to his right horn,
Pray God send our master a good crop of corn,
A good crop of corn as e'er I did see,
In the Wassail bowl we'll drink unto thee.

Here's a health to the ox and to his long tail,
Pray God send our master a good cask of ale,
A good cask of ale as e'er I did see,
In the Wassail bowl we'll drink unto thee.

Come, butler, come fill us a bowl of the best;
Then I pray that your soul in heaven may rest;
But if you do bring us a bowl of the small,
May the Devil take butler, bowl and all!

Then here's to the maid in the lily white smock,
Who tripp'd to the door and slipp'd back the lock;
Who tripp'd to the door and pull'd back the pin,
For to let these jolly Wassailers walk in.

As you can see from the lyrics, Wassailing used to be
the alcoholic version of trick-or-treating, and was
a lot of fun. Of course, after singing the carols
and being rewarded with bowls full of beverage, sometimes
the wassailers would wander off together, singing
"What shall we do with a drunken wassailer?"

Darragh Nagle

Subject: RE: Prickly Pear Mead, MLD #679
From: Martin Fredrickson <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 09:51:15 -0700

> ——————————
> Subject: Prickly Pear Mead
> From: PDWaltman <>
> Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 00:11:31 -0400
> When people make Prickly Pear mead, what do most people use?
> I ask because all the Prickly Pear Meads before a couple
> weeks ago were all
> very pale, one even yellow-green. Not a whole lot of fruity
> flavour. I've
> always thought the flesh of the prickly pear what used.
> A couple weeks ago I ran across a Prickly Pear mead that was
> bright red.
> What was up? Does Prickly Pear have some part of it red?
> flowers? fruit?
> And if this is the fruit of a Prickly Pear, what does
> prickly pear fruit
> taste like?
> Dennis Waltman

Having made a couple of prickly pear meads I think I can answer some of your
questions. First off, it is the fruit of the cactus that is used in making
the mead. The leaves of the cactus are a Mexican specialty called nopales
and are very tasty in an ommelette but would not, in my opinion, work in a
mead. Flowers range from yellow to red, I have never actually examined the
flowers closely, I do not know how they smell or if they might work in a
mead, (I have used other flowers in meads but that is another story).

Depending on a whole host of factors ranging from the exact variety of
cactus to its growing conditions, the fruit may be green, pink, red, or
purple. I have an abundance of the cactus growing within a few miles of my
home and I see all of the variations. I harvest my own fruit in the wild
from several plants that have a high yield from year to year. This is a
somewhat risky endeavor as most of the cactus around me tends to grow on
sandy unstable hillsides. Bring sturdy gloves, and some sort of tongs to
grip the fruit. I also bring a long knife so I can cut them off while
grasping them with the tongs, this isn't always necessary but it helps
sometimes. I often find myself in precarious positions while harvesting,
when doing my first batch, I slid into the cactus and ended up with about
300 spines embedded in my lower leg, my subsequent harvests were a lot less
painful because I was much better prepared and protected.

The fruit are typically about 2 to 4 inches long, they have spines on the
outside, (hence the name), and a large quantity of small seeds inside a firm
flesh. The juice is very gluey and won't press out very easily. I have tried
removing the spines a couple of different ways, most of them left me with
very fine cactus spines embedded in my hands. The method I finally settled
on is to burn them off with my propane brewing stove then plunge them into
cold water to cool.

After they are despined and cleaned, I simply chop them up and put them in a
pot seeds and all with enough water to cover. I boil this for about a half
hour them I cool it and extract the juice. From about 12 pounds of fruit, I
get around 1 gallon of extracted juice which I add to my must just before
primary fermentation. This method leaves you with some pulp but not enough
to be a problem. Because the fruit is very gluey to begin with, this is
really the best way I have found to deal with them, you will have to use
pectic enzyme in the fermenter but that is a simple and easy thing to deal

As for how the fruit tastes, well that is a tough one, it is a fairly unique
flavor, subtle and sweet but not resembling any other fruit I know of. It is
an interesting and unusual compliment to honey. Do not use a strong flavored
honey for a prickly pear mead because you will overwhelm the fruit. I
recommend clover, citrus, sage, or mesquite honey, the last being
particularly nice. One that I am particularly proud of was a semi-sweet one
I made with cherry blossom honey, this one is exquisite and the cherry
blossom compliments the prickly pear extremely well.

Color in a prickly pear mead is an entirely hit or miss thing. The juice I
get is a bright, almost flourescent, red to pink-purple color,
unfortunately, fermentation kills this color very quickly. I have seen
prickly pear meads that are red but I do not know how the makers maintained
the color. As with most organic colors, pH is probably a huge factor in the
expression of the color, I believe that acid destroys the color, this would
be why it fades as fermentation proceeds and pH drops. My meads usually turn
out golden with a hint of pink to a slightly rusty amber color depending on
the honey I used.

Well, I hope this helps.


Subject: Re:  question re: citric acid
From: "Marc Shapiro" <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 14:47:11 +0000


Yes, you can use lemon juice in place of acid in your mead. I often
do just that when making a traditional mead. For a 1 gallon batch I
would use the juice of 1 lemon. If you are using bottled juice then
2 ounces should be about right. If you are using a fresh lemon then
you might consider grating the zest (the outer, yellow, part of the
skin, not the white, pithy part) of the lemon and adding it, as well.



Marc Shapiro

Visit 'The Meadery' at:

"If you drink melomel every day, you will live to be 150 years old,
unless your wife shoots you."

  • –Dr. Ferenc Androczi, Winemaker of the Little Hungary Winery

Subject: Re: Homebrew Digest Request (June 17, 1998)
From: (John Wilkinson)
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 98 16:36:47 CDT

Dennis Waltman wrote:

>A couple weeks ago I ran across a Prickly Pear mead that was bright red.
>What was up? Does Prickly Pear have some part of it red? flowers? fruit?
>And if this is the fruit of a Prickly Pear, what does prickly pear fruit
>taste like?

The fruit of the prickly pear is purple inside and has a tart sweetness. The
fruit is a sort of bulb like growth on the leaves, if you can call those thick
flat parts leaves. Pretty flowers will bloom from the fruit.
Beware of the tiny needles of prickly pear. They are easy to overlook while
dodging the big thorns but can drive you nuts if they get into your skin or
clothes and thence into your skin.

I have eaten prickly pear fruit while dove hunting in west Texas but that was
before my mead making days so I haven't tried it for that. If I ever get back
to where there is enough to collect for mead I think I will try it. It is not
a strong flavor but I found it interesting.

John Wilkinson – Grapevine, Texas –

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #679, 16 June 1998 (Buckwheat Mead)
From: "Mike Kidulich" <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 20:12:49 -5

> Has anyone ever made a mead with Buckwheat honey? I just bought a bucket
> of this honey and was wondering if it would be better off as a sweet mead
> or a dry mead. I presume that since it has a strong flavour on its own it
> would not be a good idea to use this for a melomel.

I have tasted a show, or traditional mead my brewing partner made that was
about five years old. It was a sweet, still mead and it was delicious!
However, since buckwheat honey is quite strongly flavored, much patience
is required in order to achieve a drinkable beverage.

A *melomel* is definitely not the way to go with buckwheat honey.

As a follow-on to this question, have any of you mead makers ever done a
traditional mead with a blend of honeys? What if you used a small
percentage of a strong honey, like buckwheat, with a lighter tasting honey?
I have been thinking about this, as buckwheat honey is easily found in our

Mike Kidulich
Upstate New York Homebrewers Association

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #676, 5 June 1998
From: "Shane Gray" <>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 11:50:16 +1000

> Subject: First time mead questions
> From: John Looney <>
> Date: Tue, 02 Jun 1998 10:23:58 +0100

> Anyway. I can't get dedicated Mead yeast. Any of the local shops look at
> me funny when I mention it to them. What's the best ones to go for after
> that ? Champange yeast ?

>From your email, I got the distinct impression that you are from the land
down-under. I'm also here in Australia, and am a recent intiate to mead
brewing. Recently I embarked on quest to find some of the mead yeasts that
are listed in the various recipes I have compiled, and that are supplied by
Australian suppliers. So far I haven't had a great deal of success, but I
did find a store in Sydney that sells wyeast cultures, and even though they
don't stock mead yeasts, they are willing to order them in, theyre details

Eastern Suburbs Brewmaker
149 Clovelly Road
Randwick, NSW 2031
Ph: 02 9399 8241

Also, I don't have the address handy, but check them out on the net.

Good Roads and Fair Weather,

Shane Gray D.R.M., Cert. Pol. Ther.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #675, 1 June 1998
From: "Shane Gray" <>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 11:56:04 +1000

Responding to a posting from the Mead Lovers Digest, about whether or not
dandelions are safe.

Dandelions are completely safe, providing your indenification is correct.
There are a number of other plants that look similar (although not that
similar) to dandelion, and I believe that they are slightly poisonous. But
dandelions are most certianly safe and are used both in the culinary world
and the medical one.

The leaves are sold under the term "dandelion greens" and are added to
salads due to their high potassium levels and their slightly bitter taste
(used much like rocket lettuce). The flowers are also added to salads to
provide colour and texture.

Medicinally, herbalists have been using dandelion root and leaves for
centuries. Dandelion root is a wonderful liver herb, which means its
stimulates the liver, and is often used in liver compliants such as
hepatitis. It is also great for the treatment gall bladder conditions. As
for the leaves, they are a mild diuretic. Probably the pen-ultimate
diuretic, as they also contain high amounts of potassium, which is lost as
you increase kidney function.

So to sum up, yes your dandelion mead will be safe, providing your
identification is correct!!!

Good Roads and Fair Weather,

Shane Gray D.R.M., Cert. Pol. Ther.

Subject: Re: melon mead
From: Joyce Miller <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 19:12:12 -0400 (EDT) wrote:

>Why yes, I have made a Cantaloupe mead. I turned out well, I don't think
>that the cantaloupe flavor really fit for a melomel. There was nothing
>wrong with it but it just wasn't as enjoyable as I would have liked.

It reminds me of when I first started making mead, and discovered that some
things just don't taste good when their sweetness is stripped out. It looks
like cantaloupe is one of those things. It's a sort of Zen question: what
is the taste of an unsweet cantaloupe?

  • — Joyce

Subject: Re: Period Fruits
From: Joyce Miller <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 19:12:21 -0400 (EDT)

>Can anyone give me a listing of what fruits are period and are European?
>I'd like to make as period of a mead as possible.

Well, the big "euro-fruits" of course (no, not the ones that appear on
"Shprockets"). A quick trip through Digby (1669) produced this list:


and gooseberries and plums, I assume, although I didn't see them in there.
The list shouldn't change for the early middle ages, either.

  • — Joyce

Subject: siphons; fruits; Renfrow; containers
From: Samuel Mize <>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 12:54:24 -0500 (CDT)

Leo says:
> but I had a hell of a time getting
> the $#^*( siphon started. I'll certainly know where any contamination
> originates from in the weeks ahead =:-O

I've found the best siphon starter to be the body of a 3-part airlock. The
little tube butts against my siphon tubing. The big opening fits over my
mouth. One quick suck, and the siphon is full without lips ever touching it.
No fiddling with turkey basters or other contraptions.

  • – – – – – – – – – –

Micah Millspaw quotes Alasdair:
><< …
> Can anyone give me a listing of what fruits are period and are European?
> I'd like to make as period of a mead as possible.
> … >>
> What does this mean ' fruits are period',? I do not follow the question.

Sure you do. You quoted the question, then followed it. 🙂

"Period" is used by a group called the SCA to mean "used within their time
period of interest." When you see it used like this, it means the poster
thought this list was an SCA activity. Given the lack of interest in mead
among the general populace, the assumption is reasonable, just erroneous.

> Also what is a 'period of mead'? I have seen many
> container sizes with interesting names posted on the MLD but not this one.

A quart. A period is half a colon. The average colon can hold about two
quarts, according to, which
I found via Yahoo. The web is full of surprises.

  • – – – – – – – – – –

Cindy Renfrow gives a brief answer to the question about "period" fruits,
refers to her book for a larger treatment, and gives the web address for
more info. This post should be required reading for anyone who wants to
know how to gracefully do business on the internet. Well done!

  • – – – – – – – – – –

Mr. Michael Scott Meiners has gotten some good answers about mead
containers. He had commented:
> Being man's oldest fermented beverage I would suspect that it would be
> stone goblets, but they are hard to find at WalMart.

If you want the ancient touch, use pottery. (Avoid the lead glazes that
helped fell the Roman empire.)

Sam Mize

Samuel Mize — (home email) — Team Ada
Fight Spam – see

Subject: Mead of the Israelites
From: r l reid <>
Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 10:42:37 -0400 (EDT)

Does anyone know anything about whether mead was a known drink
among the pre-Rabbinic period Jews/Israelites? I realize most
folks associate it with pagan Europe, and that borai pri hagafen
(the fruit of the vine – grape derived beverages) are the traditional
ritual drink for the last few thousand years of the Jews. But I did
recently come accross a reference to mead (not in a sacred or scholarly
text mind you) among the ancient Jews, and it certainly the delight
of honey itself is in the sacred texts and in the Tradition (essential
folk element of bot Rosh HaShana and Shavuot, for example).

If it were a drink there, doesn anyone know its name (I'm sure it
wasn't "mead") and any details? My assumption is it would have been
a straight "honey, water, fermentation" approach.

r l reid

Subject: Raspberry Chocolate mead
From: Richard Weiss <>
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 17:28:48 -0400


I've got a nice<IMHO> raspberry mead in bottles that is about 6 months

old. I'd like to add some chocolate to this but don't want to mess up
the clarity. It's really clean. Any ideas on how to blend this mead with
something that will give me a raspberry chocolate mead?
Dick Weiss

End of Mead Lover's Digest #680