A Taste of Mead

Mead is popular in both historical legend and fact. English lore suggests that

Mead was Robin Hood's favourite beverage and that it was served to the knights

at the fabled round table. There are tales of Vikings celebrating victory by 

drinking mead from the skulls of their enemies.

In addition to the legends, archeologist have discovered proof that mead has 

been around for over 5000 years. The ancient Egyptians are known to have enjoyed 

mead, and the ancient Babylonians served as the official drink of weddings. A 

Babylonian brides parents were required to keep the new couple supplied with 

mead for a lunar month following the wedding- hence the word "honeymoon".

What is mead? In its most primitive form, mead, or honey wine, is made from the 

fermentation of honey diluted with water. Yeasts break down the sugars and the 

natural by-products are ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. That is the simple 

description! It can get more involved.

The colour and the flavour of the honey used will determine the final colour and 

flavour of the mead. Generally, the darker the honey, the darker the mead, and 

along those lines, a stronger flavoured honey will produce a stronger tasting 

mead. The lighter, milder flavoured honey's will produce what is considered a 

"bland" tasting mead.

A honey bee flies up to 5 miles from its hive and may visit 300 to 400 flowers 

on a single trip. Over thousands of such extended trips, involving some three 

million flowers, nearly 40,000 miles of flying is required by the honey bee to 

gather enough nectar to make enough honey for one bottle of mead.

Take 6lbs. [2.5kilo] of Austerfield Clover honey and put it into a big pot with

16 pints of water, rainwater if possible, and heat until boiling.

Add spices you like best such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves or nutmeg. Then reduce

over a gentle heat until only 6 pints of liquid remain. Pour the liquid into a 

pottery or earthenware pots and allow to cool.

Add about 1 ounce of fresh yeast and leave to ferment for 3 days. When fermenta-

tion is over pour into casks, or bottles, and keep for a year before drinking. 

You will then have a Millenium Wine.


The first thing to consider when using honey to cook with is that it is judged to be twice (2 X) as sweet as sugar. Therefore, to get the same sweetness as sugar, you use one half as much as you would of sugar.

The formula for using honey in cooking also makes use of what we know about the composition of honey.

Honey is about 18% water. If you round that off to 20% you can easily figure that about 1/5th of the honey you add to your recipe is water. Therefore, you cut back on the moisture in your recipe by 20% (1/5th).


Figuring how much honey to substitute:

Recipe uses 1 cup of sugar.
Since you know that honey is twice as sweet as sugar, you use 1/2 cup of honey.

Figuring how much water to use:

Same recipe uses 1 cup of water
Since you used 1/2 cup of honey, you can figure that 20% (1/5th) of that 1/2 cup of honey (or 1/10th cup) is water.
So you cut back on the water in the recipe by 1/10th cup, and end up adding 9/10th cup of water, instead of a full cup.

Have fun and be more healthy by using honey in your recipes!

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