I’m a passionate forager, always on the lookout for edible plants. Even in cities I manage to find something to pick, and Zagreb was no exception. Wild plum trees bursting with fruit seemed to be everywhere, lining streets and parks, so I didn’t hesitate to help myself to some sweet treats.
Here in the UK, damson season is upon us, and I’ll soon be making my annual damson gin. The blackberry gin is already steeping, and in a month or two I’ll get started on the sloe gin. Making fruit gin is however so easy that it requires no recipe (you just chuck a bunch of fruit in a jar with some gin, leave it for 1 – 3 months and add a homemade sugar syrup), so I thought I’d share a recipe for my favourite type of mead instead.
· Large stainless steel pot
· Large stainless steel spoon for stirring
· Large funnel
· Optional: A second demijohn for siphoning the mead into to let sediments settle before bottling it
· Siphon tube
· 700g to 1kg honey (depending on how sweet you want the end product to be)
· ½ package of champagne yeast
· 10 elderflower heads (fresh or dried)
· 1 lemon
· About 15 raisins (will not add to the taste, only “feed” the brew)
· A bit of vodka or gin for the airl
· Sanitise all the equipment.
· Put the elderflowers in generous ½ gallon of water in a large pot and bring it to a simmer for about 2 – 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it steep for a while.
· Add the honey to the warm water and stir until it is dissolved.
· Let the tea cool to about room temperature. Use a funnel to pour it all (including the flowers) into the fermenting jar.
· Add juiced lemon and raisins and fill up the rest of the jar with cool water, leaving about 10 cm of space at the top
· Add the champagne yeast, cap the jar with the rubber stopper and give it a good shake.
· Remove the stopper, fill the airlock with vodka to the line (you can use water, I use vodka to keep it more sanitised), then cap it and place it in the bored rubber bung. You should start seeing bubbles overnight!
· Put the jar in a cool, dark place. Once the bubbles have almost stopped (3 - 4 weeks depending on the temperature), it’s ready for bottling.
· Siphon the mead into the second demijohn or bottle the mead directly (minus the flower heads). Leave the bottles for a while to allow carbonation to develop.
The bottles can be stored for up to a year (possibly more, I just haven’t tried!), but make sure to “burp” them occasionally in case they get very bubbly.
Mead can be made with fruit too. I like to make rhubarb mead, and I’m also keen to try making mead with redcurrants, blackcurrants, apples – or plums!