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Honey - The Most important part of your mead
Honey is the main ingredient of mead and it is of course the most important ingredient. Even if you are making a flavored mead like blackberry the honey still determines how the mead will be.
Right now you might not know a lot about honey but as you learn about making mead you will learn a lot about honey too! There are many different variations of honey and these variations make a difference in the taste, smell, look of the mead and even have an effect on the brewing process.
First off!!! (If possible) Do not use normal store-bought honey in your mead. This honey has been refined and pasteurized. It is meant for other uses. You need to get unrefined honey for your mead and it is easily found at farms, farmers markets, apiaries or online. You can often get this kind of honey in stores and supermarkets. Look for honey that is labeled "raw" or "unrefined". This will make a difference in the mead.
So, How much honey do you need?
The quantity of honey varies by recipe and if you have a particular recipe you are going to follow then you know how much honey you will use. Here are some rules of thumb that will help you understand the honey quantity and what kind of mead it will make.
For a 5 gallon batch of mead
12 pounds of honey will make a dry mead
15 pounds of honey will make a balanced mead
18 pounds of honey will make a sweet mead
12 pounds? What does that mean?
1 quart of honey is about 3 pounds so 12 pounds would be four quarts. (This will vary a bit because different types of honey will weigh different amounts) But it is a good rule of thumb and most sellers will sell honey by the pound.
For a 1 Gallon batch of mead a good rule of thumb is to go with 3 pounds of honey.
(Note from Will) This particular honey goes in and out of stock at amazon.com. You have to check on it.
This is a 2 pack of honey jugs. Each jug is 3 pounds which is perfect for a 1 gallon batch of mead. I have purchased and used this honey many times. It makes a decent mead. I love the 3 pound jugs it just makes things so much easier.
Want to go a bit better? The honey is of course the most important thing in your honey and the quality makes a difference. If you are making a plain mead the best honey for this as far as taste goes is to get an orange blossom honey. It cost a bit more but makes a difference. And if you are making a fruit mead you should get a clover honey. It is the best for a fruit mead because it takes the flavors very well.
Types of Honey in Mead Making
There are literally hundreds of different types of honey - it all depends on what kind of flowers the bees harvested from . But for mead making I will give you three recommendations.
Orange Blossom Honey - This is a light and delicious honey that makes a superior mead. It is a favorite among mead makers and if you can get this honey you should.
Clover Honey - Not quite as good as Orange Blossom but still makes a good mead. But... if you are making a fruit mead this is what you should go with. The gentler flavor is more suitable to absorbing the flavors of the fruit.
Raspberry Honey - I have made raspberry mead and love it. But I have never made a mead using raspberry honey. It continuously gets rave reviews though. This is purported to be a fantastic honey for mead making.
Wildflower Honey - This is a mix of honey harvested from a variety of flowers. This doesn't make the best of meads and it can vary because of the variations of the honey but if you just want to make some mead and don't want to spend a lot of money this is your choice. I have made plenty of mead from this type of honey.
Gourmet Honeys - IF you want to make the best mead you really should use a very high quality or gourmet honey. This is true of any food product. Here are some that are available on amazon.com