Mead can be one of the most sumptuous drinks when brewed properly and one that should never really be bought in a commercial supermarket. In Hampshire we have a local man who makes mead from his own honeybees and adds elderflower and hawthorn to create deep woodland flavours. I highly recommend sourcing local honey for this recipe; not only does it nourish your local environment and community, but all jars of honey taste different and it’s wonderful to be able to capture the unique flavours of the landscape around you. This recipe was inspired by rambles across heather moors on hot days; gorse petals have a sweet, coconutty fragrance, but you do have to work a little harder to gather them as their thorns are a nightmare! Combined with the flavour of honey and gorse, the chilli is not particularly fierce but it does leave a warming sensation after the last drop is guzzled. This recipe makes 5–6 bottles.
- 1.2kg clear honey (~ 2.5 lbs)
- 1.9 litres fresh water (~ 2 quarts)
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 2 mugs of fresh gorse petals
- 8 chillies, dried or fresh
- Take a sterilised demijohn and pour in the honey, water, yeast, gorse petals and chillies. Stir thoroughly, either with a stick or by swirling the mixture around and then seal the opening with an airlock.
- Leave at room temperature for 4–6 weeks, or until the water in the airlock stops bubbling. If possible, transfer the mixture into bottles using a syphon, which means you can avoid the gorse petals and take out the clearest part of the liquid. If a syphon is not available, sieve the mixture slowly into bottles, taking care not to leave an air gap between the liquid and the bottle top. The mead will be a little cloudy at first but over time any residue will settle at the bottom of the bottle.
- Store the bottles in a cool, dark place for a year before drinking.
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Excerpted from Food You Can Forage by Tiffany Francis, published in paperback by Bloomsbury, £16.99