Mead racking has proven to be a messy process.

Photos by Mary Snyder

And Suzanne Duvall

The tradition of making mead (honey wine) has been an ongoing affair within many cultures for years. This Thanksgiving, my two friends and I that I’ve known since diaper days decided to take on the tradition and it has quickly become a hit. Vikings, Egyptians, Ancient Mayans, and now Americans are just a few cultures that have taken on the difficult task.

The steps of making mead are very complex and difficult at times. First one needs to acquire at least 5 pounds of organic honey (in order to make a 3 gallon batch) and yeast. Since this was our first year, we decided to use a very basic recipe which called for wine yeast.

After the honey and yeast are available, you have to heat the honey and 3 gallons of water so the honey with dissolve, making a uniform mixture. Before pouring the mixture into the jug, the jugs need to be sanitized which is seen in some of the pictures.

Adding the mixture to the jug was one of the hardest parts of the process. With a make-shift funnel and a lot of patience, it was finally almost finished.

The yeast needed to be added and then we capped it and were ready to go. We capped the jug with a rubber stopper and an air bubbler that makes sure the glass jug doesn’t explode from the pressure being built up from the gas.

All of these steps my friends and I did back in September. The process we did over break was the first racking. In racking, the point is to separate the mixture of honey and the sediment that is left over from the fermentation process.

In racking, we needed a different jug that was clean and a long rubber hose. We basically took the mixture from the jug it has been sitting in and transferred it to another one with the hose. In order to make the mixture go through the hose, I needed to act like the hose was a straw and that part was particularly messy. As I was trying not to drink the mead, I had to move the hose before any of the mead got to my lips.

When we got this process started it was smooth sailing. We cleaned the jug that the mead was fermenting in for about a month and now we needed to transfer the mixture back. After cleaning the jug of the remaining sediment, we used the same technique with the hose.

The mead was back in its original jug and we were finished with the first racking. We capped the jug and made sure the air was going through the bubbler (tiny bubbles will appear every few seconds).

Our plan for this tradition has gotten us very excited. The mead has to go through two more rackings and we plan to have a grand unveiling in June at our summer solstice party we through every year. Even though this is a new tradition in its first year, I can see it being carried out annually around Thanksgiving when it is guaranteed that the three of use will be home visiting family.


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