Recipe Box: One Gallon of Elderberry Mead

Recipe for Elderberry Mead (1 gallon) from Pixiespocket.com
Make your own batch of delicious, healthful elderberry mead!

Elderberries are delicious!

Even more than just being tasty, they are useful and quite a potent medicine. I make jars full of elderberry tincture and cordial all throughout the year to stock up for fall and winter coughs, colds and flu.

I’m currently on the hunt in my neck of the woods for a fresh elder patch so that I can forage fresh berries, but until then, I’ve been using dried berries from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Here’s few posts from fellow bloggers who have covered the goodness of elderberries:

I love it when tasty and healthy go together so well…especially in something like home-made booze!

Now, I don’t encourage you to over-drink if you are feeling ill, but alcohol has its own beneficial purposes when used sparingly. Elderberry mead is a great drink of choice for when you feel yourself coming down with a cold and need to get some rest – try it mulled (warmed with spices like cinnamon, clove, etc.) for a bedtime drink.


One Gallon of Elderberry Mead

This batch was started in January 20, 2014, bottled on April 20, 2014, and the first bottle opened on August 9, 2014!

Ingredients

1 gallon of water (filtered is best)

2-3 lbs of honey 

Large handful dried elderberries

Thumb sized bit of fresh ginger, diced

1 slice dried lime

1/2 packet of yeast (champagne yeast for dry, sweet wine or mead yeast for a sweeter result)


Procedure

Grab a large stockpot and add about 2/3 of a gallon of water to the pot.  Add the diced ginger and allow it to come to a boil.

While the water heats, sanitize your gallon carboy, airlocks, bungs, and funnel with a store-bought sanitizer, or try a bleach and water mix. Make sure you rinse it well afterwards if you use bleach!

When the water is at a steady, rolling boil, throw in the dried lime and the handful of dried elderberries. Cover the pot, turn off the stove and remove the stockpot from heat. Add the honey and stir well to dissolve. Let it cool down for a bit, and then set the funnel in the neck of the carboy and pour in everything – the hot honey water (also known as must), ginger, and berries.. Pour in the rest of the gallon of water until the must is up to the neck of the carboy. Add in the bung and the airlock to keep everything clean.

Allow the must to cool down to body temperature before you pitch your yeast – this can take a few hours so I sometimes just leave it overnight. In the morning you can pitch your yeast into the jug. Since it is a gallon batch, you can add only a half of a packet of yeast and re-cap with the airlock.


Racking, Backsweetening, Bottling

By late March, the jug had cleared and the mead looked to be mostly ready. I took the airlock out and used a sanitized straw to taste a bit of the mead. It needed more sweetening, so I made a sugar syrup and added it to a clean, sanitized carboy, leaving behind the ginger chunks and elderberries for the compost bin. I racked the mead onto the sugar syrup and let it sit again for a few weeks to ensure that fermentation was completed. On April 20, I bottled the mead (in beer bottles with beer caps!) and let it rest until August.

Tasting

Ok! So the results are in. This is a nice, light mead that did turn out a bit dry. The berry flavor is light but definitely present, and stronger if I add sugar syrup to the bottle. Even though I waited to bottle it until the fermentation seemed to be complete, there are some bubbles in this batch. That tells me that there is residual yeast that continued to grow after bottling.

This is a mead that I will make again, although I plan to double the elderberries and maybe add some cinnamon instead of a lime…*planning & plotting*

Header Image Credit: Stanze on Flickr

13 Comments

  1. Did you end up making the elderberry mead again, if so did it turn out better and what did you do differently? Thanks

    1. I haven’t made it again…yet! I plan to start it in July so that it will be ready by fall. I have only one beer bottle of elderberry mead left, and it honestly is aging so well that I might make a bigger batch so that it will last longer! The age mellowed out the berry flavor and blended it with the bit of sweet honey flavor. I do find myself adding a bit of sugar or honey syrup to this, but a few of my friends prefer the dry version. 🙂

      Next time, I’m going to let it ferment longer in the jug so it isn’t fizzy in the bottles, that’s for sure!

  2. Was wondering how long a time period from start to first drinking. This elderberry. Mead sounds so good, maybe with desserts.

    1. That varies for me between wines/batches…for this one, the batch was started in January 20, 2014, bottled on April 20, 2014, and the first bottle opened on August 9, 2014! I have one bottle left…

  3. Hi, I make muscadine wine using of the shelf bread yeast. Have you tried to make your mead or wines using bread yeast? I have people tell me that the wine is very good and ask for more. I double the sugar so it is a sweet wine. This year I added elderberries to the mix and it also turned out well.

    My process is a little different too. I don’t place the ingredients directly into the carboy. I start everything in a stainless pot covered with a towel for a week, stirring daily. Then in to the carboy with an airlock until it stops bubbling.

    I’ve never made mead before but do raise a few bees. Honey is like gold so I don’t want to waste it by ruining a batch of mead. I grow my own elderberries and have a big bag in the freezer. I have been kicking around the idea of making some mead with elderberries and then I found your article.

    1. Hey there, Ned! Thanks for commenting!

      I have used bread yeast, sometimes I use wild yeast, and other times I’ll spring for the fancy stuff when I can. 🙂 I have made muscadine wine with Welch’s frozen grape juice concentrate, but the sweetness got all eaten up by the yeast. I added sugar syrup to every bottle I opened before drinking!

      Sometimes I use the open bucket method like you describe, too…but only when I’m wild-fermenting or using fresh fruit or big chunks of stuff that I plan to strain out before it goes in the carboy.

      I haven’t yet started raising bees, but I’m excited to! I’ve taken a lot of courses with the local beekeepers association.

      I hope you do try this mead and it works out for you! Let me know how it goes! 😀

  4. Just a cautionary note; I’ve made elderberry wine with spices and it turned out more like a very strong liqueur. A little cinnamon goes a LONG way. Maybe a half cinnamon stick (2 inches) when you boil the ginger and then remove it. Just a thought.

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