hist-brewing: Lithuanian Mead Recipes

Dan McFeeley mcfeeley at keynet.net
Wed Sep 29 08:15:22 PDT 1999

One of my co-workers, Casmir "Chuck" Petkunis, recently passed on two 
recipes for mead to me which he says have been circulating in the Lithuanian
side of his family for generations.  The copies I have came from a collection
of Lithuanian recipes which he says was pubished around the 1950's, but
he's seen the same recipes in an older Lithuanian book published around the
1930's.  The family name is Petkunas, a common name which Chuck tells me
means the same thing as Smith.  The recipes in the books were gathered from
Lithuanian families in Chicago.

Although there certainly are some redactions added by more recent 
generations, they may be quite old, coming from families in Lithuania.
Anyone have any ideas, or recognize connections with older recipes?  

The recipes are below, as they appear in the material Chuck gave me.
(note - "Midus" is the Lithuanian word for mead)

Dan McFeeley
mcfeeley at keynet.net


        1 handful juniper berries
        2 nutmegs
        1 handful hops
        7 quarts honey
       14 quarts water
        1 oz yeast
        1 tsp sugar

  Break and crush berries and nutmeg.  Tie with hops in cloth bag.
Place in honey and water, boll about 1/2 hour, skimming off foam.
Cool to lukewarm (about 100 degrees F.)  Pour into a 5 gallon bottle.
Do not overfill, allow about 4 inches space from surface to top of
bottle.  Cream yeast with sugar and 1/2 cup of honey-water liquid,
set in warm spot for 10 - 15 minutes until it begins to bubble.
Slowly pour into liquid in bottle.  Stopper bottle with cork into
which a glass tube (thistle tube or medicene dropper with bulb 
removed) has been set (to allow fermentation gases to escape).
Allow to ferment at temperatures of 60 degrees no less than 6
months.  At end of that period, filter off with rubber pipette
or siphon, pour into botles, cork.  Ready to drink a month after

  N.B. -- aging improves mead.  It is at its best 2 - 3 years after

              Ancient Recipe

        2 quarts honey
        5 gallons water
        1/2 lb. hops
        1 slice bread

  Measure and pour exactly half of the honey and water into a large 
kettle.  Using a stick, mark on the stick the distance from the top
of the kettle to the surface of the contents.  Pour in remaining
honey and water.  Bring to boil.  Tie hops in clean cloth, place in
kettle.  Boil until one-half of the liquid remains (ascertain by
using the marked measuring stick).  Cool.  Strain through several
thicknesses of cloth into a barrel or crock.  Spread enough yeast
on bread to cover thickly.  Place bread in liquid.  Mead will begin
to ferment in 3 days.  Strain again, pour into bottles, set in cool 
spot.  Mead can also be stored and aged in barrels (oaken preferably).

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