Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Simple Living Toowoomba ~ Mead and Perry Workshop

Last Saturday our Simple Living Toowoomba group had a very interesting workshop on how to make mead and perry. Mead is one of the world's oldest fermented beverages and is made by fermenting a mixture of honey and water. Perry is made from fermented pears. As I mentioned in my last post, I would rather have a cup of coffee than alcohol as I don't like the taste but some of my readers might be interested in seeing what the process is when making mead.

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. 


  1. How fascinating Nanna Chel. once my big commute is behind me I totally intend starting community events like this in my area....obviously not as grand a scale as yours. The value back to society is immeasurable. Very engrossing post.

    1. We are very fortunate in that we are able to use the kitchen in a church hall. Not all workshops need kitchen facilities of course.

  2. What an excellent workshop, sorry I couldn't make it. I will have to make time for the next two. Thanks for sharing. Guida

    1. Guida, I hope you are able to get to some of our last workshops for the year.

  3. My dad recently had some mead and offered me a taste. I'm not a big drinking (a glass of wine socially) but I wanted to try tasting what was probably drank in biblical days. Not bad really. I don't think it is something I would MAKE... but if offered another glass I wouldn't turn it down... ;)

    1. Monica, I didn't do a taste test. Mead has certainly been around for a very long time.

  4. Dear Nanna Chel,
    Thanks for sharing! I have never tried mead but have always been curious on how it is made and how it tastes. Have a great day!

  5. I smile as I am another who just does not care for the taste of alcohol. It probably kept me out of a fair amount of trouble in college! Interesting process.

  6. It certainly does look interesting. Your Simple Living group certainly covers an interesting range of subjects. Just a tidge too far to travel really!


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