Guava honey mead

Guava honey mead is really known as a melomel; it's a wine with a difference.

Let me start off by saying that whilst I've been brewing conventional mead and beer for at least thirty years, this is the first time I have tried making a melomel. We have a glut of guavas this year and are looking for ways to preserve the important phytonutrients in the fruit.

10kg of cherry guavas for a melomel.

May I add this is really for beekeepers who also have access to large amounts of fruit. If you are going to brew a 25 litre carboy you will need nearly 20 pounds of natural honey; in South Africa that will cost you around R1500 or more.

Beekeepers are always looking for ways to use their "gleanings;" the mixed wax-cappings and honey that are a byproduct of our hobby.

Ingredients

  1. 10 kg Guava fruit
  2. 8kg honey or 21 kg of wet comb and cappings mix (8kg gleanings + 3kg honey)
  3. 1 large lemon
  4. 10 cloves
  5. 1 large ginger root the size of your hand
  6. Tea from 20 guava leaves, boiled for 15 minutes in rain water
  7. 1 sachet yeast
  8. 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient

I would not go with more than half your honey from the gleanings; it's simply takes up too much room in the carboy.

Go for it

I made this batch of guava honey mead, or melomel to be more precise, on 4th May, 2022.

Mashing cherry guavas for a honey mead.
  1. Sanitise all equipment.
  2. Wash fruit and then cube.
  3.  Place cubed fruit in fermenter (without pips).
  4. Add lemon chopped into slices (remove pips and skin).
  5. Make a tea with 1 litre water and brew guava leaves for 15 minutes.
  6. Add to the fermentor.
  7. Add cloves and chopped up ginger.
  8. Place honey or wet comb into bucket and using 10 litres water agitate with your creamer until comb is broken and well mixed. Place the mixture into the fermenter with the fruit. Ensure there is at least a 10cm space between the top of the liquid and the lid; it will start foaming once fermentation starts. Watch carefully that it does not overflow in warm weather.
  9. Measure the acidity and SG and taste.
  10. Add 1 tsp white wine yeast for every 5 litres of must; stir into warm water at 35*C and pour it in after 20 minutes; add the yeast nutrient, or a small block of comb, say 5cm, from the brood-chamber that is full of fresh pollen.
  11. Fit the seal and air trap.
  12.  Ferment for 6 days then agitate vigorously to break the guava up even more; then after two weeks remove the fruit pulp and continue the ferment of the liquid.

6 weeks stage

  1. After 6 weeks, do all tests to check acidity.
  2. If fermentation was done in a plastic fermenter, rack into glass demijohns.
  3. Fill the gap above the liquid with a syrup made from a ratio of 1 litre of water:130g fructose
  4. Leave for 12 weeks.

12 weeks stage

  1. After 12 weeks or when fermentation has finished, do SG and pH tests again.
  2. Then siphon the liquid from the fermenter into a demijohn, trying to avoid the sediment.
  3. If it is clear and tastes good, bottle; it will likely need to be racked again.

Acidity

The pH range you want is 3.5 to 4.5.  Add 1.25ml of bicarb or tartaric acid per 0.5 adjustment on 5 litres.

After mixing the powder in, recheck the pH.  I usually do my adjustments before fermentation, but have needed to do it again at racking sometimes.

Saligna honey tends towards being alkaline. So I usually add 5ml of Tartaric acid.

If your pH is 3 add 3.75ml Bicarb. If it is 5 then add 3.75 ml Tartaric acid, both in powder form. Stir doing your best to not letting air into the mix.

Air will start an oxidisation process, which might end up with a vinegar. Nice on salads but not for consuming as your evening tipple.

Question and answer

The fruit of Chinese or cherry guavas is almost all pips. I take it something in the seeds would detract from the melomel. Is that correct? Is using the whole fruit for the fermentation stage detrimental? 

In all fruits the pips have an oil they emit during fermentation. But when I gave this recipe to Jason I told him to leave them in. I’m not sure whether he experienced it becoming rancid. If you don’t go the “all hive” route it is easier to remove the fruit pulp after two weeks.

The fruit pulp can always be used for making jam; in a sense during fermentation it has been pickled.

I use this device for creaming honey. Would it do, or should I make another with a shorter paddle? 

The one you use to cream your honey should be fine. However if you can get a stainless-steel paint stirrer, it’ll be even better.

Roughly how many grams of ginger would you use? Or how long a root is best? 

A root about the size of your hand, cut in slices of about 3mm is best. Remember to remove the skin. It can be scrapped off using a serrated-knife.

In general, how large a space between liquid and cork in a demijohn? 

I wouldn’t use a demijohn for this; either a bucket or a 25 litre wide-mouthed carboy. Almost a quarter of the height of the vessel must be clear. The gas production lifts the mass right out of the liquid. Alternatively you can agitate every few hours to keep the floating mass below the fermenting hydromel. However this needs to be done very carefully. You do not want to add oxygen as this will spoil things for you.

So the time interval is not cast in stone. At first racking can be anything from 3 to 12 weeks from start.

Secondary is to allow the mead to mature.

A guava honey mead like this can be ready to drink from 18 weeks from the start; about 4 months.

Cappings, these can be left on for a long time. But you can separate after 3 weeks.
If your SG is too high you can add water. Just make sure it has been boiled.

It might be an idea to make a box with polystyrene to house the mead. Going below 18°C might cause the ferment to get stuck. Have a infra-red light shining onto the mead to warm it up at night.

Guava honey mead

Guava honey mead can only realistically be made if you have easy access to natural honey and the fruit; a wonderful aperitif.

  1. What is Melomel Mead?

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