hist-brewing: spontaneous ferment mead

WyteRayven at aol.com WyteRayven at aol.com
Wed Jan 17 08:27:55 PST 2001

The very first batch of mead I made was from a recipe in a periodical that the SCA puts out. It was a redaction of a period recipe, but I don't remember what the original source was. It was before I joined the SCA and I had borrowed the periodical from a friend.

The recipe was essentially, take honey, water, and lemons and boil them together, skimming the foam off. Then let it sit and cool uncovered for 1 or 2 days. Then place it in a sealed container and let it ferment naturally. (I used soda bottles, and would periodically unscrew the tops to ease the pressure)

This process worked very well, and the product was very good.

I have since moved a couple of times, and have made mead using yeast starters, and have good results as well. 

Not too long ago, I tried to do a spontaneous ferment again, using a recipe from Digbie's, but the new place apparently does not have the yeast, as no fermentation ever took place. <sigh> So I re did the recipe and pitched a wine yeast.

It seems to me that the boiling of the must wasnt mainly to kill wild yeast, but more to bring the impurities out of the honey. If you are located in the right kind of area (my cottage was located under redwoods, and was very damp, my current appartment is quite dry and has central heating rather than a wood stove that I am afraid to use) then the yeast may be in the air, rather than just in the honey, or in the fruit.

Also, since honey has been used as a remedy against infections (and there are studies that have proved that it is effective) Im not sure that there actually is much yeast that could survive in it. I think that the must is watered down enough that the yeast is able to survive in it, but might not be able to survive in honey itself. 

Just some thoughts,


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