Recipe Box: One Gallon of Blackberry Mead

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I can tell that it is truly summertime.  Over the last week or two, my housemates and I have gathered over two pounds of blackberries from the wild brambles on our lower lot.  With chèvre on toast, and by the handful, we’ve managed to consume about one pound of those, and we froze the rest for later use. We plan on using those to make a syrup, or maybe add to it and make a small batch of jam.


But that’s not enough…I have other plans for berries. Plans that involve more fruit than our yard currently provides.

So, I woke up early yesterday morning and went to work with my husband. While he mowed beautiful lines into the sweet-smelling, dew-covered grass, I went around the perimeter of the land and gathered the wild blackberries that pepper those hillsides.

After an hour and a half of work, I had earned arm-scratches, purple fingers, and a hell of an appetite to go along with the two pounds or so of fat, ripe blackberries that I had gathered!

We brought them home, rinsed the berries off, and then I began the process of making a one gallon batch of blackberry mead!  This is also known as a melomel, a mead made with fruit.

Blackberry Mead (1 Gallon Recipe)

2-3 lbs of wildflower honey
2-3 lbs of fresh picked wild blackberries (store-bought will suffice!)
1 whole allspice, cracked
1 whole clove, crushed
1 bit of dried orange peel
1 splash of lemon juice

Grab a large stockpot and heat just under 1 gallon of water to boiling.  Throw in the allspice berry, clove, and orange peel while it gets boiling really high.

While the water is heating, sanitize a brewing bucket with a bleach and water mix, and rinse it well.  Add the berries to the bucket along with a splash of lemon juice. Use a potato masher or similar tool to mash the berries up and release their juices.

Once the water is kicking at a steady boil, turn off the stove and remove the stockpot from heat.  Let it cool for just a minute, and then add the honey, stirring it well to blend.  If it is unfiltered, raw honey, you may get a foam on the surface, which can be removed if you wish.

Pour the hot honey water (also called the must) over the berries and give it a good couple of stirs. If your brewing bucket has a lid with an airlock, use that. Otherwise, you can cover the bucket with a towel and tie it down to allow the must to cool and to keep curious flies and ants out of your delicious brew!

Allow the must to cool overnight, and in the morning add your yeast of choice to the room temperature bucket.  I used a sweet mead yeast…it was beautiful, gave a little bit of a bubble, and then settled down as I stirred everything together.   Recover the bucket and tied it down again, and let the mixture do its magic in the bucket for a couple of days.

I am not only a wino with a DIY complex, but a magician, a witch, an alchemist. #homebrewing Click To Tweet

One Week Later…

The bucket full of berries, spices, and honey water had been bubbling merrily for seven days.  I made sure that the bucket got picked up and swished around every now and again to keep it oxygenated, and to keep everything from settling.  Besides the swishing, the bucket got a good stir once a day.

It was a joy to stir while guests were over.  People who have never before brewed really observe the fermentation process with wonder in their eyes.  It serves to remind me that I am not only a wino with a DIY complex, but a high magician, a witch, an alchemist. Poof! Alcohol.

After seven days, the sweet, fizzy smell in that corner of the kitchen was delightful – not too yeasty or cloyingly sweet.  I declared the mash ready to strain and moved to the secondary fermenter.  I could have perhaps let the berries and must sit together longer, but I didn’t want the bitter seeds and skins of the berries to penetrate too deeply into the flavors of the final product.

My housemate Sarah helped, and together we lined a strainer with a layer of cheesecloth or two to catch the smaller floaty bits.  The strainer was set into a large cook pot, and slowly and carefully, I poured the bucket out.  What a feast for the senses!  The color is magnificent, the smell – divine, and once we funneled the brew into the carboy and sampled what was left over, the taste?  Absolutely thrilling!

So, with the carboy capped off with a fermentation lock, it took only a couple of hours for the yeast to kick back into action.  The lock is bubbling about once every five full seconds. I won’t know when this mead will be ready…but I’ll guess by the bubbling going more slowly, and look for other signs, like the opacity of the mead itself clearing as the yeast dies and settles to the bottom.

After this mead stopped bubbling and cleared, it was bottled, aged for a few month, and enjoyed by all!  It was delicious; rich, sweet, and full of the tangy, bittersweet berry flavor from the wild blackberries. I’ve subsequently made a batch every year since!

I’ve also made a few more one gallon batches of wines and meads, and you can see my technique and recipes there!

Here’s the dream list of brewing projects that I have not yet begun (or written up, as the case may be):

  • Peach Mead (Melomel)
  • Ginger Mead
  • Apple Mead
  • Spiced Apple Mead
  • BEER! I want to brew Ninkasi’s beer.

I would also like to direct you folks to the blog of a friend of mine, Michael Ruff of Dove and Raven Mead.  We made his first batch together a couple of months ago; he learned the basics of brewing, and he tried in vain to teach me hydrometer math.  He just started his first cherry melomel, and it sounds amazing!


  1. You are right, Kat! I lost my gumption and gained full time employment, and I’m sorry. I’ve been brewing lots more, lately… I’ll see where pricing is, but I’m unsure when I’d be getting up to VA to bring any mead. 🙁 Any ideas?

  2. Thanks, Me! <3 I just updated this article to include the second part to this alcoholic odyssey! I look forward to seeing more from your blog, you are fun to read. 🙂

  3. In your recipe you mention 1 allspice, 1 clove, lemon juice. For the clove and allspice is it one tsp, one tbsp., and the lemon juice, how much of it, a tsp., tbsp., a cupful. When you give recipe’s please include the amounts of each ingredient or else your article is useless.

    1. Sorry for any confusion, Gary. I’m a granny cook, I do things by splashes, bits, handfuls, and sprinkles! But specifically, I meant ONE clove. ONE allspice corn. Not teaspoons or tbsp. The lemon juice in the recipe goes on to indicate a splash of lemon juice, which if I had to guess, would be about a tablespoon.

    1. Oh, no Courtney! My general practice is to allow the mead in the jug to stop bubbling and go completely clear, with all the yeast and trub and such at the bottom. That usually takes at least a month.

      Next, I’ll rack it over into a new sterilized jug, leaving the yeast behind. I let the mead sit in that secondary jug for as long as it takes for me to be confident that it is done bubbling (no *bloops* from the airlock, no tiny bubbles floating up to the surface, etc.). Then it is bottling time! I often bottle my gallon batches up in beer bottles. 🙂

      I’ve had to help a friend clean up a whole box full of mead that popped their corks…such a sticky kitchen!

  4. I used your recipe but added 1qt of maple syrup to the must. Just transferred to secondary fermentation. I’m thinking that this will turn out very good

  5. It is now in the secondary fermenter and is still bubbling once every ten minutes so it still has a way to go before I syphon it off into another jug for it to settle.. I tasted some yesterday and it has a heavy blackberry flavor with a hint of maple. I will let it continue to bubble for another week or so and them transfer to let it completely settle

    I also make beer and have used maple syrup in a brown nut ale. It is awesome. One of the best beers I have made

  6. My mead finally stopped bubbling and settled down. It is not as clear as I expected but the taste is very good although quite strong. The maple, honey and blackberry provided a unique taste which is quite pleasing to the palate.
    Now my thoughts are to make a 100% maple syrup mead but I need to so some research on that first. I’ll update as I move forward with this

  7. I wonder if I can do this with frozen peaches. Do you think I would have to make adjustments for the sugar in the peaches?

    1. I don’t think you’d have to change the sugar content, honestly…the sugar or honey measures that I put in recipes are the standard measures that I use for everything I brew, and it has worked for me!

      One thing to consider about peaches…you know how they can have some bitterness to them, or strong sour flavor? I’ve had peach wine that tasted really skunky because of that. For a more “peachy” flavor, make a plain mead and when it is ready to bottle, rack it over onto a brewing bucket full of peaches and let that work for a few days before you bottle it. 🙂

    1. Hello Claudia! In this instance, I used a “sweet mead yeast”. To find yeast, you can visit a local brew shop if you have one, or buy online (here’s a good one I’ve used!) or in a pinch, use normal bread or baking yeast!

      For the gallon batch, you don’t have to use the whole big yeast packet. I use half, or a third, of what’s in the packet. I’ll try sometimes to do a few one gallon batches at a time and use the yeast on all of them because it sometimes can go stale in storage. 🙂 I hope that helps!

  8. sorry for poor english.

    i am korean homebrewer. so please understand some of wrong words or grammer.

    so. first fermentation is 2 weeks.

    and second fermentation is few months? i hope i understand right.

    my question is

    ‘fermentation is this much long. is it still sweet?’

    i think the yeast already eat whole sugar inside.

    it means result of fermentation is dry taste.

    or is it already too much sugar inside, so even yeast eat sugar but still remain sugar is lot.

    thats why it taste sweat?

    i want to make sweat type mead. so it is very important to me.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I think maybe this page might help:

      I let the wine ferment until there are no more bubbles. Then I taste it. If it is not sweet, add sugar syrup and do second round of fermentation (racking and backsweetening).

      Another way is to bottle it even if it tastes dry. Add syrup to the glass when you pour some to drink if you want it sweeter!

      Another way is to use special yeast made especially to make your brew sweet, like this:

      I hope that helps! 🙂 Good luck with your brewing!

      1. You can also add lactose to increase sweetness (to taste) after the primary fermentation, as lactose isn’t able to be fermented by the yeast and therefore the sweetness will remain.

        1. Good tip! I haven’t used lactose myself yet, except in a simple porter kit, I believe. I also like the richness it gives to the body of the drink. I’ll have to pick some up and try that.

  9. Hi! I’m so happy I came across your blog!!! I’ve been racking my brain to come up with something to make for my wedding favors. Have been thinking lavender infused honey or handmade lavender soap bars but this. . . .Oh this would be something my husband to be could help with too! & how perfect as we are frequent brewery and craft beer people. I think all my questions have been answered by reading through the comments but if any come my way I’ll let you know! Can’t wait to give this a try.

    Thank you for sharing =)

    1. I hope it works out! While I encourage brewing, don’t put all your eggs in one basket for your wedding favors! Infused honey is a crowd pleaser, too. 🙂 Plus, blackberry fizz stains like you wouldn’t believe!

      Enjoy it, and congratulations! 😀

    1. Not sure what that might be called, but I’d do it if I didn’t have enough of either to make a brew! 🙂 The sweet stuff is what the yeast need most, but raw honey is still my favorite to use.

  10. Hey. I’m new to brewing mead. I tried this recipe for my third batch. My first two were tangerine ginger (almost ready to bottle) and lavender with American oak (just started secondary fermentation). The only thing I changed on your recipe was adding campden tablets, because I’m worried about wild yeast from the fruit. I’m wondering why you took the time to strain before secondary? Would careful use of a siphon not accomplish the same thing, or would that leave enough of the blackberries to cause the brew to become bitter? I’m not trying to criticize your method, I’m just trying to learn all I can.

    1. Hey there! I strained the berries for two reasons, one: yes, the bitterness from the seeds/skins, and also the pectin from the fruit can cause cloudiness. Secondly, I’m ultimately lazy and the thought of clearing out chunks of berries from the neck of the jug after bottling was too much to bear! 🙂

      I tend to allow wild yeasts on purpose, only supplementing with storebought if the wild doesn’t take. I’ve only had one go too sour to enjoy so far (a pumpkin brew), and even then, it made a nice vinegar. 😉 The aeration from straining helps kick things into high gear when I pour from the bucket to the jug.

      I hope that answers your questions! Your brews sound tasty…Sláinte!

  11. I am so excited to try this!!! This will only be my 2nd shot at mead but with it being inexpensive I can’t wait to try! Going to try blackberry and plum…thank you for making the directions so simple to read!!!

  12. Hi!!!! Well I am making your exact recipe as we speak!!!!! We have made mead many times over about the last 10years, but have never tried melomel until today! The brew is cooling overnight tonight and tomorrow I will add the yeast. I am so excited that I found your blog/recipe!

    1. Oh, yay, Christelle! Here’s another suggestion for you – make your favorite plain mead, and then rack it onto fruit to absorb the fresh flavor for a few days before bottling! Cheers, and I hope you love this mead as much as I do!

  13. I am planning on making my first 2 batches of mead in the next few days. One will be blackberry and the other cherry. The hope is that if one goes wrong there is another one as back up lol. After doing a lot of research I’m having an issue resolving a question about head space. I have 4 one gallon jugs as I plan on fermenting the honey for 2 weeks and then racking it onto the fruit in secondary fermentation for a couple of weeks, then racking into a tertiary fermetor for finishing and clarity.(I found this method in Ken Schramm’s book). My question is how much head space do I need to leave for primary fermentation. From what I’ve been reading it isn’t even a good idea to ferment a 1 gallon batch in a 1 gallon fermentor because of potential blowing up of the foam in primary fermentation. But that is when fruit is added to the fermentation I guess? Other places say that when just fermenting honey there is not as much foam produced. So my question is should I leave 3-4 inches of head space and in secondary fermentation add bottled water to decrease the head space? Most of the recipes are for 5 gallon batches, so the advice doesn’t really translate. I just really don’t want to clean honey foam off of my ceiling… and now I’m just really confused.

    1. Hi, Morgan! 🙂 I have honestly never given much thought, nor have I ever had a mead or wine blow up like beers can. I tend to fill the jug until the liquid reaches the neck. Using the bungs and airlocks has been sufficient for my process so far. The gas is released and all is well, even with very active fermentations.

      However, I have not used yeast nutrient other than what occurs naturally on the fruits/skins/honey etc…it might be that a mead with nutrient might be more active than I realize.

      I have heard that you get a lot more fruit flavor when you use a method like you are describing. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list! My meads have been made with the fruit in it from the start.

      Cheers, Morgan! I bet it’ll all be fine. Enjoy the process and don’t forget to take notes!

  14. Can ground allspice be substituted for a whole allspice. If so how much ground allspice could I use. I ask only because I can’t find a whole allspice. I live in a small town and don’t want to travel. Thanks.

  15. Quick question here!

    So did your mead finish the fermentation process after 1 week? I’ve seen other recipes that call for months long fermentation.

    1. Oh, no. After a week we transferred the brew from the bucket to a capped carboy so that it could continue to ferment. I’ll clarify that in my recipe notes! It lived in the jug for a month or two until the bubbles stopped and the lees settled to the bottom. If we’d have bottled after a week, we’d have had exploding bottles! 🙂

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