Photo by Jen Altman
It’s great, when you have a little one in your life, to have a friend you can turn to for professional medical advice. That’s the case for me with my friend Maria Muscarella. Maria and I met in high school when she was a senior and I was a sophomore. A registered nurse as well as an herbalist, Maria is my go-to gal whenever my son has something going on medically that I’m not sure warrants a visit to the doctor proper. As well as a gifted healer, she’s also an enormously talented crafter, seamstress, knitter, aerial silks acrobat, gardener, cook, chicken mama, beekeeper, home-schooling mama to Kaia and Leif, and wife to Toby. Here she’s sharing her recipe for Raspberry and Elderberry Melomel, the term used to describe meads made from honey and fruit. You can keep up with Maria and her family on her blog Dirt Under My Nails.
- 5 pounds raspberries
- 4 pounds elderberries
- 1 gallon + 3/4 cup honey, divided
- 1 gallon + 2 cups water, divided + extra water to fill your carboy
- 1 whole nutmeg, grated
- 1 packet Lavlin 1CV-D47 yeast (see Note)
Elderberries photo by Adobe Stock
Two 5-gallon carboys, rubber stopper, airlock, siphoning tube. Make sure all equipment is sanitized before use.
Makes 5 gallons
Carboy photo by Adobe Stock
- Place your berries (in batches if needed) in a blender and mash them up. Strain through fine cheesecloth, squeezing out and reserving the berry juice and composting the seeds.
- Pour all of the berry juice into a 5-gallon carboy. The carboy will be hard to move when it’s full, so make sure it’s in a good spot that is out of direct sunlight before beginning to fill it up.
- In a large stock pot (big enough to hold at least 2 1/2 gallons), warm 1 gallon of the honey and 1 gallon of the water over medium-low heat while stirring gently to dilute the honey (you don’t want this to simmer or boil; simply mix the honey and water together to combine). Let this cool to 90°F. Add the grated nutmeg and the yeast, and stir to incorporate. Pour this into your carboy with your juice. Then add enough water (at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit) to fill the carboy to the 5-gallon mark.
- Affix an airlock and wrap the carboy in a blanket or towels, leaving the airlock peeking out of the top. Within a day or two, you should begin to see bubbles popping up in the airlock. This will continue for a few weeks. When it has slowed to one bubble every few minutes or has completely stopped, it’s time to rack it.
- Just before racking, place 2 cups of water and 3/4 cup of honey into a pot, and warm on the stove to mix well. Let it cool. Pour it into a fresh carboy that will be used for racking.
- Rack the melomel into the carboy that has your honey water, leaving the spent yeast in the bottom of the old carboy. The honey water will give the yeast a little food to create a bit more carbonation in your bottles.
- From here, you can replace the airlock and let the mead settle again, racking it a second time for even more clarity, or you can bottle it up. You can drink your mead right away, but the flavor will be much better if you let it age at least 6 months.
Note: Lavlin 1CV-D47 yeast is available at homebrew supply stores and online.
From Quench: Handcrafted Beverages to Satisfy Every Taste and Occasion by © 2014 Ashley English. Photography by © 2014 Jen Altman. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. Buy this book from our store: Quench: Handcrafted Beverages to Satisfy Every Taste and Occasion.