Medieval adventures

Elderberry Mead


*Remember to sanitize all of your gear before you start!

  • Read through the initial information about making mead before this recipe section. There is a lot of useful information you will need.
  • Establish how much mead you are making, 4 litres, 23 litres, or something in between? If you are making the 4-litre jug you will need roughly 2 kilogrammes of honey (this sounds like a lot, it’s roughly 4 cups) more or less depending on how many elderberries you have. If you are making 23 litres you will need between 7 to 9 kilogrammes of honey. Note: Elderberries do not have high sugar content. That said, the specific gravity will change according to how many berries you are using. This is true for all fruit meads. Keep your hydrometer handy and check the specific gravity or alcohol content often as you make your mead.
  • The first and second photos show what the elderberry bush looks like while in flower and once the berries come out. Often you see these bushes growing in hedgerows or in ditches. We have them in our garden for easy harvesting. The trick is getting the berries at the right time before the birds do. Cedar Waxwings in particular.
  • Simmer the elderberries, stems and all (shown in the third photo. the third photo also shows spices being added.), in “honey water” but do not bring to a boil. The berries come off of the stems easier this way. remove as many of the stems as possible as they do change the flavour of the mead to be less fruity tasting.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove berries from the cooking pot into either a sieve or one of the handy jelly making tools you see in the fourth and fifth photos. Cheesecloth can also be used to strain the juice from the mash. It is important to remove all of the seeds and stems in this process.
  • Add juice to the remaining honey water in your primary fermentation bucket as shown in the sixth photo.
  • Add yeast and seal your bucket with a tight-fitting lid equipped with a stopper and bubbler.
  • Check the mead after two weeks to see how it is doing. If it is still bubbling it is not ready yet. If bubbling has stopped, check the specific gravity with the hydrometer and see where it is at. Feel free to taste it at this time. If you like the level of sweetness, move the mead into a secondary fermentation unit being careful to not disturb the sediment in the bottom.
  • Elderberry mead will clarify quickly as shown in photos seven and eight (one day between photos), due to the small amount of pectin released from the seeds and skins of the fruit. As soon as it has clarified to your satisfaction either “kill” it and leave it for another two weeks or bottle it up and store it in a cool place.