Saturday, 18 October 2008

Beginning the Run-up to Christmas

I know it's only the middle of October, but some of the recipe tasks for Christmas need to start now. There's just time, if you're quick, to make a short mead brew for the festivities. To that end, here's a festive orange-flavoured mead for you to make yourselves:

Orange Melomel Mead

This is a 'short' (quick to make) mead that takes 10 weeks to mature, so it's just possible to make it now for Christmas (or your New Year festivities at the least).

1.8kg orange blossom honey
frinely-pared zest of 4 oranges (exclude all pith or the mead will be bitter)
500ml freshly-squeezed orange juice
4l unchlorinated water
1 packet yeast (Yeast (Epernay II is good but champagne yeast would also work))

Combine the honey and water in a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the honey has dissolved (do not allow the mixture to boil). Skim and scum that rises to the surface and continue cooking until all the honey has gone into solution (typically about 30 minutes).

Transfer to your fermenting bucket and allow to cool to room temperature before pitching (adding) the yeast. Allow to ferment for 2 weeks then open the bucket and add the orange peel and juice.

Transfer the liquid and peel to a demijohn or carbuoy then make up to 5l with more water. Fit a bung and a fermentation lock and leave to ferment in a warm, dark, place for 30 days (or until the bubbling slows to 1 bubble every 10-15 seconds).

At this point strain the mead into bottles and if you want a sparkling mead add a small pinch of champagne yeast and a small pinch of icing sugar to each bottle. For a flat mead exclude this process.

Cork securely then lay the bottles down in a cool place and allow to mature for at least 4 weeks.

(This recipe is reproduced, with thanks, from the Celtnet Orange Melomel Mead recipe page). If you have not made mead before, then here is a step-by-step guide to making a basic mead. Also, here is a guide to the equipment you will need in the mead-making process.)

These recipes are brought to you by the Celtnet Mead Brewing Pages and the Celtnet Christmas Recipes collection.

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