One use of any excess honey is to make Mead or Honey Wine. Some people make mead with the honey from uncapped comb (this should be done in the fall prior to the wet honey beginning to ferment). Like all honey bee related activities making mead requires an initial investment in ingredients and tools. This small investment gets spread over many batches of mead.
-1 gallon glass jug-free to any good scrounger
-Air lock and stopper-$2
-Case of bottles (12)-$20 NOTE: Old cork style wine bottle can be used if your new corks fit properly.
-Siphon-$10 (optional but recommended)
The small bottles of these ingredients are sufficient for roughly 60 bottles of mead or 15 one gallon batches.
To make a one (1) gallon batch of mead you will also need 3 pints of honey and a package of brewer’s yeast which costs $1.00. I use Lalvin 71B-1122 or Red Star Montrachet
NOTE: Some people make mead or wine in a 5 gallon carboy. I suggest the smaller 1 gallon jug until you are proficient and getting repeatable results.
Here are the instructions for making a one gallon batch.
1) To a stainless steel pot add 3 pints of honey to 11 cups of water.
2) Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 20 minutes. This kills any wild yeasts in the mixture.
3) While boiling remove the foam (pollen proteins) that collects on the surface.
4) Cover and remove from the stove. Allow to cool to room temperature.
5) When cool add the following ingredients:
-1 ½ cups orange juice
-1 teaspoon Acid Blend
-5 drops Peptic Acid
-1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
-1/4 teaspoon Grape Tannin
7) Pour the contents into the 1 gallon bottle. Keep the fluid level about 3 inches below the bottle top. This prevents foam from getting into the airlock and making a mess.
8) Install the air trap. NOTE: Add water to the air trap. The air trap lets CO2 and oxygen out of the bottle and prevents oxygen from entering. Oxygen in the bottle will turn the alcohol to vinegar. You may need to secure the air trap to the bottle with rubber bands.
Note: Fluid level well below airlock cork
9) Allow to ferment until bubbling stops; approximately 20-45 days (varies with ambient temperature and amount of sugar in the honey). The must (liquid) starts out cloudy, but will become clear with a golden tint. There will be sediment on the bottom of the bottle. Avoid stirring up the sediment.
10) Siphon the must into the bottles. Try to avoid siphoning any sediment to the bottles. Add ¼ SO2 pill (Campden tablets) to each bottle. This kills any remaining yeast. The sediment won’t hurt the taste of your mead, but does look unsightly.
11) Cork the bottles.
12) Lay the bottles on their side. This keeps the cork damp.
13) Age for 6 months minimum. The longer you let it age the smoother it gets.
14) This recipe results in a sweet wine.
This is the basic recipe. I have also made “hard cider” using apple cider in place of the water. If you prefer a dryer (less sweet) wine cut back on the amount of honey and replace the deleted honey with an equal volume of cider. Others substitute cranberry juice in place of the water.