Meade, which is honey wine, is one of the oldest beverages noted in history. It’s beginnings simply a way to preserve the harvest. A way to make medicine. When the water wasn’t safe to drink, alcohol was a safe drink. Beer and wine are simply fermentations, preserving techniques.
The number one task for a homesteader is to get everything done timely. One can’t wait too long or we miss the opportunity. Rosehips should be harvested just before frost. However a few days after frost is when I gathered my basket and began to harvest the delicious fruits. Rose hips are the bulb left after the rose is gone. It is ready when it turns red. The fruit is one of the highest sources of vitamin c. Their medicinal quality is that they are an effective anti-inflammatory and really nice for joints and arthritis in the winter months.
As it would happen, I missed my chance by a bit but did manage to harvest a cup and half of rosehips. As I passed the fragrant lavender hiding beneath a pile of leaves, I couldn’t help but snip a bit of that too. The intention was to make rosehip wine.
As I decocted the rosehips, I tried to figure out the ratio to make a smaller batch of wine with my humble two cups of herbs when I thought of honey. That would be delicious with it. Then I realized I could make Meade and the herbs will just make it better.
In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of rosehips and 1/2 cup of lavender stems and leaves. (You can use any herb or berry) with 4 cups of water.
Boil for 10 minutes. Smash with a potato masher a few times during the process and at the end. Put lid on and let sit for 8 hours.
Meanwhile, dissolve 4 cups of honey in 11 cups of very warm water.
You can get a jug and lid with a carboy (the nifty aerator thing) at a beer and wine making supply shop or online.
Strain herbs through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Pour juice and honey mixture into a gallon wine making jar. Leave a little space from the top (see picture) to allow air flow and bubbling. Add 1/5 of a package of white wine yeast and stir well.
Replace lid and add carboy. Pour enough vodka or rum into the carboy to the lines as a disinfectant. (Leave it in there. The air bubbles through it. Most recipes call for a chemical but I’d rather use alcohol.) Set on counter out of the sun for 4-6 weeks until bubbling stops.
I have noticed that red wine yeast really puts on a show, and the white wine yeast is a bit more subtle. As long as everything goes well, we will meet back here to bottle it! We will be enjoying it by our Midsummer party!
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So cool! I make mead too. Can’t wait to find out how yours turns out. 🙂
Rose hips is another example of a traditional fruit (or vegetable) that we have our own version of in California. If I were somewhat younger, I would grow more traditional varieties (and I might do it anyway). The natives are not as prolific with fruiting.
There were so many beautiful roses in California! A lovely to place to live indeed.
Well, the prettiest are not the natives. San Jose in the Santa Clara Valley happens to be one of the best places in the World for modern hybrid roses, which is why the Heritage Rose Garden is there. Portland is the Rose City, but only because of a bunch of fanatics said so.