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Recipe: The Honey Wine of Legend

Mead, or fermented honey, may be the oldest alcoholic beverage out there. The collection of honey predates agricultural practices and appears across most cultures in some form.

Take it from your ancestors – this sweet libation, often used in ceremony or celebration, is a gift from the gods.

The following recipe is from Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection by Jessica Prentice.

At the height of summer, when the days are long and the Earth is in bloom, we enter the lunar cycle known in sixteenth-century England as the Mead Moon. The beehives are heavy with honey made from the pollen of spring and summer flowers, and honey was the crucial ingredient for making mead—the honey wine of legend, myth, and human history brewed from the precious produce of industrious bees.

Mellow Mead

Makes 2 quarts

This lacto-fermented mead has very little alcohol but showcases the flavor of honey, and is delicious. Mead was traditionally drunk on the summer solstice.

  • 2/3 cup raw, unfiltered honey
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water, very warm (about 110°F)
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup kefir grains—rinsed grains from making milk kefir, or water kefir grains
  1. Pour the honey into a clean, 2-quart mason jar.
  2. Pour the hot water over the honey and stir to dissolve.
  3. Pour the rest of the filtered water into the jar.
  4. Add the kefir grains.
  5. Cover the jar and put it in a warm place for 1 week.
  6. Strain into two glass bottles with screw tops. I use the bottles from the mineral water Gerolsteiner. Put an even amount into both bottles. If they are 1-quart bottles, they should be full; if they are 1-liter bottles, add enough water to fill to the top. Screw the lids on tightly, label and date the bottles, and return to the warm place for another week.
  7. Transfer to the fridge. Once they are cold you can enjoy them anytime! When you are ready to drink the mead, open the bottles carefully because they may have built up a lot of carbonation. Open them outside or over a sink. Turn the lid very slowly to see if the drink begins to release foam. If so, then allow it to release some of the carbon dioxide by not opening the bottle all the way and letting out some of the pressure, then opening it more and more, bit by bit. This way you won’t lose your drink to its carbonation.

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