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Blackberry Mead: A One-Gallon Recipe
Summertime means berries, and berries mean jam, wine, and mead. There's nothing like having a bottle of summer to warm you in the middle of the winter!
I can tell that it is truly summertime when I can gather large handfuls of blackberries from the wild brambles that surround the edges of our property. Over the past two weeks, I’ve had blackberries with chèvre on toast and devoured by the handful, but the rest of the harvest has been frozen a handful at a time for use later in the winter. Maybe I will turn those into a blackberry syrup or cook it down to make a small batch of jam…we’ll see!
My hedgerow harvests suffice for those mini projects, but sometimes I have to visit one of my secret patches where I can pick a whole mess o’berries with abandon!
So, I woke up early yesterday morning and went to a work site with my husband. While he mowed beautiful lines into the sweet-smelling, dew-covered grass, I walked the perimeter of the land and gathered the wild blackberries that peppered the rolling creeksides. After an hour and a half of work, I had earned arm-scratches, purple fingers, and one 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)
- 3 lbs of wildflower honey
- 2-3 lbs of blackberries
- 1 or 2 whole allspice seed, cracked
- 1 or 2 whole cloves, crushed
- 1/2 of a lemon, chopped
- 1/2 packet of Lalvin D-47 or other brewing yeast (but 2 grams of bread yeast will work in a pinch!)
Grab a large stockpot and heat just under 1 gallon of water to just about boiling. Throw in the allspice berry, clove, and lemon while it heats.
While the water is heating, sanitize a 2-gallon brewing bucket and rinse it well. Add the berries to the bucket, ideally in a mesh bag, but it’s fine if you just toss them in. Use a potato masher or similar tool to mash the berries up and help them to release their juices.
Once the water is hot, turn off the stove and remove the stockpot from heat. Let it cool for just about 10 or 15 minutes and then add the honey, stirring it well to blend it. If it is unfiltered, raw honey, you may get a foam on the surface, which can be removed if you wish. I usually don’t bother.
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, or until it is around 80 degrees. Add your yeast of choice to the room temperature bucket. I often use Lalvin D-47 for meads, or sometimes a sweet mead yeast. Pitching the yeast is a beautiful experience. Sprinkle it on the top of the mead and give it a stir with a clean spoon to add oxygen and get the yeast mixed in. Re-cover the bucket and let the mixture do its magic in the bucket for a couple of days.
A few days later…
Waiting is the hard part! You have to let the bucket full of berries, spices, and honey water bubble away for a while. Pick up the bucket and give it a gentle swish every day. You’ll hear the bubbles popping as you do so, and it smells amazing! You can also give your mead a daily stirring with a clean spoon. This helps to add oxygen and breaking the surface of the mead helps to avoid mold growth on the fruit.
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.
For my first batch, I waited seven days. The sweet, fizzy smell in the mead-brewing corner of the kitchen was delightful – not too yeasty or cloyingly sweet.
When you’ve decided the mash is ready, sanitize a one-gallon glass jug, a strainer, a funnel, an airlock, and a bung. It helps if you line the strainer with a layer or two of cheesecloth to catch the smaller floaty bits. Strain the mead into the glass jug, and enjoy the show…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!
Top off the carboy with an airlock and bung. It won’t take long for the yeast to kick back into action. I don’t know when this mead will be ready…but I’ll guess by the slowing down of the bubbling in the airlock and rising up the sides of the jug. You can also look for other signs, like the opacity of the mead itself clearing as the yeast dies and settles to the bottom. If you can read a newspaper through your mead, it’s ready to bottle!
Once your mead is bottled, age it for at least a few months before enjoying it. This brew is delicious; rich, sweet, and full of tangy, bittersweet berry flavor from the wild fruit. I’ve made a batch every year since!
I’ve also made a few more one-gallon batches of wines and meads, and you can see more about my technique and recipes there!
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!
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Tagged: blackberries, Blog, booze, brewing, DIY projects, featured, homebrew, honey, mead, recipe, recipe box, recipes, summer
Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!
MMMMMmmmm, sounds wonderful!! I remember us talking about mead a few months back….
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?
I really want to hear how this turns out! It sounds wonderful.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
So, how long did you wait to bottle it? I made some strawberry mead last year but my bottles exploded! (Didn’t wait long enough)
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!
[…] reminded me to dig the frozen blackberries from this summer out of my freezer and make a batch of blackberry mead. It is *quite* lively and bubbling madly! I tried to get a good picture to share, but Akasha […]
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
Ooh! I’ve always intended to try playing with maple syrup in brews, but never have! Please let me know how it turns out!!
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
Ooooh. YUM! Maple brown nut ale sounds delicious. I brew beer as well, just did a motherwort porter. 😀 Delicious and dark and chocolately! Cheers!!
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
[…] month ago, I made a batch of blackberry mead from the last bit of the blackberries I picked and froze this past summer. After the berries and […]
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?
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. 🙂
How much and what kind of yeast did you add? I’m a newbie to this.
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!
[…] One Gallon of Blackberry Mead and Blackberry Cordial & Simple Syrup from Pixie’s Pocket […]
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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.
Thank you for your comment! I think maybe this page might help: http://www.pixiespocket.com/one-gallon-mead-recipes
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: http://amzn.to/2e1xzD7
I hope that helps! 🙂 Good luck with your brewing!
by the way the yesat that u recommand one is liquid type?
which needs cool. when it delivered
This is one I’ve used that worked well: Wyeast Sweet Mead Yeast – http://amzn.to/2edjAaT
Hope that helps!
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.
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.
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 =)
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! 😀
The actual origin of the term HONEYmoon comes from newly weds being given mead at their wedding and then drinking it for a whole moon cycle or month post wedding! Fun fact!
I’m curious to know if you have ever tried a 1/2 sugar 1/2 honey combo? Not sure what that would be 🙂 Thanks!
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.
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.
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!
Thanks for the feedback. I’m lazy too, so I’ll definitely strain it.
Lazy method for the win! 🙂
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!!!
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!
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!
[…] are of the inclination you could also try home brewing you blackberries into mead (there’s a great tutorial here) If you know of any interesting and different uses for blackberries please do let me know in the […]
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.
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!
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.
Sure! I don’t know how it would equate…maybe just a little pinch? Or skip it and use other spices! 🙂 It’s easy to substitue in these recipes. I hope that helps!
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.
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! 🙂
I have never made mead but have made fruit wines many times. The recipes always call for crushed Camden tablets one day before pitching yeast to kill any wild yeast from the fruit. Is this not necessary because of the hot water?
I apologize that I missed this comment until now! I do not use Campden tablets, myself. I’ve even made meads with wild yeasts on purpose, and to good results most of the time. If you are concerned about wild yeasts, feel free to use Campden tablets. In this blackberry mead, the yeast that I added to the bucket quickly took charge and no mold or sour flavors resulted. I hope that helps!
Ok we just moved from bucket to jugs. Keeping our fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
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Thanks for checking in, Toni! It looks like you’re still subscribed, but I haven’t been mailing very often. I’ll try to be more in touch – take care. 🙂
Wish I could make bacon mead
I have a blackberry mead I’m making of my own recipe and it has stalled I’ve added a touch more sugar and yeast but to no effect and I added some yeast nutrients but still no effect I even add fresh blackberry to it but no effect its got the warmth it needs for it but idk any suggestions or advice