Nature is a wonderful friend to all us meaders.
we don’t always have to go far to get our best ingredients and best flavors to our brew. Nature provide – simple as that.
Today I will be talking about some of the fine resources we have in the Nordic countries, which I occasionally – ok – often – use in my meads.
Fruits and berries are abundant in autumn months. For all you melomel fans, your old fruit orchard is a goldmine.
Apples, plums, cherries; if its treefruit you normally eat – it’s probably going to work in your mead.
Little is as rewarding as going out into nature a fine autumn morning. Bring back a basket full of fresh apples, and by nightfall have it as a primary source in today’s batch.
Let’s also not forget that garden harvested fruits contains tons and tons of natural nutrients that the yeast will love you for.
Not to say that you shouldn’t use proper yeast nutrients when you make melomels / far from it. Nutrients are food, the fruit juice just adds that little extra to make the yeasties oh so much happier. And flavour … ohhh the flavours you can bring out in the mead..
If you are lucky enough to have access to for example apples from several orchards, you will over a few harvest seasons find that there are significant differences in both clear and subtle flavors from different fruit orchards. Nature is wonderful like that.
Here in the Nordic countries we have been blessed with a range of fruit trees that used to give our ancestors much joy in the winter nights. Plums are a favourite of my elderly neighbour, she makes all kinds of alcoholic beverages from them.
As with grapes / plums have a natural yeast cover on their skins. These yeasts strains, if managed properly / can give some amazing flavours to your mead. But as with all non/commercial strains, you run the risk of wild yeast running away from you many times before you can tame(harvest) it. Nevertheless … a plum can give an amazing flavour to your mead. Personally, I enjoy the darker plums, as I like the raisin’y flavour they develop in my batches. For some of the most successful batches I incorporate the purple dark plums found in an orchard not too far from me. This give – in combination with a specially prepared base mead (sorry – can’t reveal the recipe) a sweet, caramelly flavour best related to a darker type portwine. Absolutely amazing.
DISCLAIMER: I do not always succeed with this mix, as nature throws a wrench in this recipe every so often.
You would be surprised how many summers I see these wonderful elderflower trees blossoming, with the owners of the garden not having a clue what gold-mine they are sitting on. The black elderberry tree (elderflower) is one of Nature’s finest garden trees, and often completely overlooked.
At least here in the area where I live, an Elderberry tree I full bloom is a sight to see, and a scent to smell. You can literally smell a full blossoming elderberry tree from afar.
I use this as one of my staple mead, a mead that every year gets stellar reviews for its fantastic flavors, and its amazing scents.
Do you have such a tree anywhere near? drop by the garden, befriend the owner and see if you can make a great elderflower mead. Your tastebuds, your belly, your family and your friends will love you for it.
Here in the Nordics, no self-respecting house-owner (with a garden) would want to be seen dead without red and black currant bushes in his/her garden.
These berries were a stable for most house-owners due to the mount of berries they gave, of which so much could be made.
In my family we have had these bushes since the early 1800’s, at which point my family also got into berry-juicing.
Nature has been good to our garden as these bushes – both measuring well over 1.5 meter (4-5 feet) in diameter, and every year being heavy with berries. We would juice most of it, where a mix of red and black currant would make the most amazing juice/concentrate. This we would store and consume throughout the winter.
These days, I use it in …. You guessed it….my meads.
As with all my meads, and as I would continuously urge any reader / I use as much self-harvested, and self-made / prepared ingredients in my meads as possible. This give me the utmost control of the process.
Try out a garden-fresh batch of red and black currant mead. A well-balanced red/black currant mead is something of the most satisfying flavours you will find. Simple, yet clearly present, and very much in tune with the honey itself. A match made in heaven.
That’s it for this article – stay tuned for upcoming article – Flavors of the forest.