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Wineries of El Dorado County

Honey


The main ingredient of any mead is honey. Imagine what it takes to make a single pound of honey. Thousands of bees must visit 2 million or more flowers. Both the flavor and the color of the honey depend on the kind and variety of the flower that the nectar comes from. Clover honey for example is light in color and mild, while honey from buckwheat is much darker and stronger too. Honey is rich in simple sugars; dextrose and levulose and contains more calories than ordinary sugar as well as sodium, iron and potassium.

It is probably mans oldest sweet food. In many early civilizations it was extolled as food for the gods, as a gift from the gods or as a giver of immortality. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and other ancient peoples used honey in making cakes and candies as well as beverages. It was also used to make salted meat more palatable, hence honey hams. Wherever there was a large orchard there was sure to be an apiary. It was very common for households to have a small orchard as well as a small apiary, or for locals to get together and contribute the honey that had been gathered over the summer to a brewer who would make mead for them.

There are several different types of honey that can be used for mead but the most common is a good clover honey. Clover honey gets its name from what the bee's make it out of. You can also acquire an Apple, Orange, peach or other fruit honey. You can use almost any honey in the making of mead. Strongly flavored honeys (orange blossom, buckwheat, wild flower) generally work best for Metheglin.

Clover honey works well and will result in a very delicately flavored and light gold color, but very light honeys (like alfalfa) are not very suitable as they give poor flavor and almost no color. I do use raspberry or other fruit honey when making mead with that particular flavor. If you plan to make a traditional mead (honey and water) then you should use a stronger flavored honey as this will be the single thing that will give your mead its character.

Here is a short list of the most popular types:

MEAD - Made with honey only. This term is now used generically to collectively refer to all types of honey wines such as those listed below.

PYMENT - This is grape wine that has the addition of some honey. Typically this would be around 2 to 4 pounds of honey to 5 gallons.

CYSER - This is mead made with apple juice (cider). Typically around 2-1/2 gallons of apple juice is used to a 5 gallon batch.

MOLEMEL - This is mead with some fruit added. For example, a raspberry spun honey might have 3 or 4 pounds of fresh raspberries added as well.

METHEGLYN - This is mead made with herbs and spices. A short list of what might be used is: cloves, ginger, juniper berries, cinnamon, orange or lemon peel, peppermint, woodruff ...

HIPPOCRAS - This is a Pyment as listed above, only with herbs and spices incorporated into the recipe as well.