Our presenter, Karen, gave us all notes and I will copy a few bits and pieces here.
Basic ingredients are honey, water, mead yeast and yeast nutrient. Other ingredients which will make different categories of mead are fruits - to make Melomel, grapes - to make Pyment, grapes and herbs - to make Hippocras, apples - to make Cyser and herbs - to make Methaglin (Welsh word Medclyglin meaning medicine).
Equipment needed can be bought from a home brew shop including carboys to store the mead in.
The basic process is to sanitise the equipment first and for our workshop Karen used purchased Mead yeast and nutrient rather than random wild yeasts from the kitchen.
She used plums that she had frozen when they were in season and you just leave them with the skins on as you have to do the 'racking' process later on when the sediment is left behind.
Measure out the water and honey as well as the fruits and herbs if adding them.
Warm the honey with some of the water quantity. If you are going to make mead it would be worthwhile having your own beehives I think as a lot of honey was used.
Karen also added a packet of cranberries. Then fill the carboy with the honey and fruits and 'swoosh' around. That is technical language when making mead :-)
Add the rest of the water to the carboy and swoosh it all around again until it is mixed thoroughly. More Aussie technical language!
Take a specific gravity measure and write it down and date it.
It is not in the notes but I think Karen added the yeast at this stage.
Fit the air lock and bung , store in a cool spot and watch it start fermenting in the following 24 hours. It actually started bubbling straight away but it will really get going later on and you will hear lots of gurgles coming from the carboy.
After the fermentation stops (2-6 weeks) do your first rack into a second carboy. This leaves the sediment behind. Take another specific gravity measurement and record with date and have a taste test.
Leave the second ferment for another four weeks or longer then bottle the mead.
Karen also made Perry but she used a kit from the home brew shop and it was a quick and easy process. I hope she got those containers home without spilling otherwise her car would smell like a brewery. Karen also gave us notes on how to make vinegar from scratch and there is lots of information on how to do this on this Pinterest page. The CEO has been collecting apple cores for months and the fridge freezer is getting a tad overcrowded with them. Some day he will get around to making apple cider vinegar...I hope.
Our next workshop will be on herbs and will be presented by qualified herbalists, then the October workshop is about using essential oils and our lovely Racheal will be doing that one as she sells doTerra essential oils and in November Chris from Gully Grove will be showing us how she makes her sourdough.
We are already gathering ideas for workshops for 2017 and permaculture, felting and making wooden soup moulds might be on the cards depending on the availability of presenters.
Do you have a simple living group in your area and, if not, why not see if there is any interest in your town and arrange a meeting with those who respond? Ours is so much fun and we learn a lot from each workshop.