Home brewing day, cherry mead

This years cherries, after thawing
This year's cherries, after thawing

These are the cherries that we harvested back in July.   There are 12 1/2 pounds.  I wasn’t ready to use them at that time, so they were frozen.  To thaw them, I put the bags of cherries in a large metal bowl and kept them in our “cold room” for three days.

Our cold room is an area of our basement that is unfinished and unheated.  This fall we cleaned it out and built in a shelf.  This time of year, it stays about 40 degrees.  It’s great for storing root vegetables and other things that like it cold and dark.

I’ve made cherry mead before, but it seems like I learn something every time.

After reading this article on washingtonwineMaker.com, I was quite convinced to continue making mead without heating.  Unfortunately, honey does not dissolve very well in cold water.  After emptying the honey, there was quite a bit of honey was left in the jars.

I added water to the honey jars and used a butter knife to stir the left over honey into the water, then shook the jars.

Even though I added another gallon of water to the fermenter and stirred vigorously, the honey was not dissolving.  I tried our hand held mixer (in the photo above) and that worked fabulously.  The honey / water mixture took on a milky appearance.

Once the honey was dissolved, the bags of cherries were emptied into the metal bowl.  I was amazed at the amount of juice.  Freezing and thawing had juiced the cherries for me!  There was so much juice that I only needed 3 gallons of water to make 5 1/2 gallons of must.

UPDATE 12-2-08:  I mixed this batch on Sunday and it took until Tuesday evening to start the airlock bubbling.  The yeast might have started faster had I warmed the water to 80 or 90 degrees.  It would have helped the honey dissolve.

UPDATE 12-10-08: It is still bubbling, although it does sound like it is slowing down.  It will be time to rack into a new carboy in about a week or two.

UPDATE 12-13-08:  No action in the airlock.  I think that primary fermentation is about complete.

Here is the complete recipe:

  • 3 gallons water
  • 12 1/2 pounds of cherries
  • 12 pounds honey
  • WLP720 Sweet Mead yeast from White Labs
1 gallon of water was added to the fermenter, then the honey.  The honey / water was stirred with a large spoon, then a hand held mixer.  The cherries, juice and yeast were added and gently stirred in with a large spoon.  The fermenter was sealed with a lid and airlock.
We also bottled a cyser that was brewed about this time last year.  It came out fantastic!  Tart with a great apple flavor.
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