Rose petal honey mead has the sublime fragrance of a million flowers. Alas you have to be a beekeeper and a serious gardener to brew it.
Brewing mead is the perfect hobby for a couple. One keeps the bees, not necessarily the man, and the other grows the roses.
In fact many of the best beekeepers are women; and who says a man can't love growing roses?
But if you have a lot of money to buy good honey and have access to dozens of rose bushes then you can be in the business of meading; one of most intriguing and interesting hobbies.
The basic ingredients are rose petals, natural honey and pure water; to which are added various astringents and other flavours of your own choice. Today I am using lemon pulp, black tea and a few peppadews.
Clip the rose heads as they are just starting to fade. If you do not have enough petals in one go, freeze the flowers until you have sufficient. Don’t worry if they go a little brown. Collect strongly-scented blooms of any and all colours.
That means the old-fashioned roses that actually have scent.
500ml of rose petals means compressed down into a half litre container.
Use only the finest honey on hand. There's no point going to all this work utilising that which you have purchased it from the grocery store; it may be adulterated and almost certainly has been heated and filtered. You want as much pollen as possible, in part for yeast nutrition; but also to contribute to your own well-being.
Surprisingly considering that honey is mainly a mixture of glucose and fructose, when completely unprocessed it has a low glycaemic index; it does not mess with your blood glucose. This of course is even more the case once brewed into a mead. Nevertheless those who are insulin resistant would be wise to test the influence it may have on their sugar levels.
Ask your doctor to do a HbA1c test. In fact we should all have it done; diabetes is a monster and fully a half of its victims are wandering the streets undiagnosed. Luckily using food as medicine is can be brought completely into submission.
Most recipes in the kitchen ask for lemon juice. Yet more than half of the important nutrients are found in the pulp so I advocate using both.
The South African guru, Eddy Lear's recipe uses the juice of 1 lemon in a 5L carboy or demijohn; I have recommended using half a fruit but including the pulp too.
Did you know that beta-cryptoxanthin is the only proven nutrient that will help prevent dementia; eat citrus daily. Your Rose Petal Honey Mead will thus also help stave off that evil day too! More than half is found in the pulp.
Next time I will use limes instead of lemons; just for fun. Never get tied down by a recipe; cooking in the broadest sense of the term then becomes very boring.
Generally the Sichuan pepper is recommended; it has a fruity flavour apparently.
I have substituted with peppadews from which the seeds have been removed; they grow in abundance in our green garden. Right now, in spring they are out of season; so I have used frozen fruit.
So use 1 peppadew in 5L of the must. The amount is not critical, depending on your taste buds.
A peppadew mead would use about 20 of the fruit in a 23L carboy; it's not too spicy. So for the Rose Petal we are looking for just a hint of chili.
A planar is a very useful, inexpensive kitchen utensil. One orange will produce about 25g of zest.
As I'm sure you know many important nutrients like limonin are found in the zest. Most of them are unknown.
Tap and even bottled water today are so suspect, laced with plastic microparticles and many noxious chemicals that will affect the taste of your Rose Petal Honey Mead.
So I use only sterilized rainwater. You could boil it; I have a UV lamp.
I use only loose tea because of the plastic nano-particles from the bags. It tastes much better in any case.
Today using black rather than green or rooibos tea but you can experiment with your favourites.
Strain the tea into a pot; add the orange zest and the chili. Then boil for a couple minutes and allow to steep for another five.
Yeast like humans cannot live on carbs alone. If you are using natural honey it may be enough but I add a small piece of comb with fresh pollen to be certain there are sufficient nutrients for the fermentation to go smoothly.
Generally 1 sachet of dried wine yeast is recommended for 5L of must. Everything depends on the virility of your strain. Mine has bubbled over frequently so I now add far less; 1/2 tsp for a large carboy. You will have to experiment.
A bag weighted down with smooth river pebbles will keep the solids submerged and together for easy removal. Remember that whilst shaking the must for aeration they could crack the glass; do it mindfully.
The comb is less than water; it will float. Plus bubbles of gas cling to the contents of the bag; add enough pebbles to keep it submerged.
Notice that I am using a conventional air-lock; water tends to evaporate very quickly from the container in the lid. If you are not particularly vigilant, it dries out; fruit flies and air may get into the carboy.
So I never use that plastic cap shown any longer.
Your Rose Petal Honey Mead will definitely improve with time. Ideally you should wait a year or more before drinking it. Obviously this won't happen with your first brew but try to keep one demijohn back for the future; label it carefully.
So I strongly recommend a second carboy so that you can start another brew if you plan to do take up meading seriously; either immediately or as soon as you have more honey available.
I have just tasted the mead at 6 weeks; it's supremely good, if a little rough.
Dealing with the gleanings is always a problem. You don't want to heat the cappings and ruin the honey. It is also not advisable to put them out as it may spread disease and cause a bee war.
I now get most of my honey for meading from the cappings; simply add some warm water, slosh it about and pour the solution into the bag containing the petals, fruit and river stones. There's no problem if a little wax gets through. This also provides plenty of pollen, the nutrient for the yeast.
As a rule of thumb 1kg of cappings contains about 350 grams of honey; depending on how long it has dripped and whether you used a hot knife, fork or roller.
Rose petal honey mead adds a little mystery to what is already an astonishingly good and even nutritious aperitif; unlike commercial wines it is unpasteurised. No sulphur dioxide is used.
There is disturbing research, confirmed many times that even small amounts of commercial alcohol increase the risk of malignant tumours, particularly of the breast. Yet the folk in the Blue Zones enjoy natural unpasteurised wines daily with their meals; and still have very long and zestful lives.
This Rose Petal Honey Mead is a natural wine that acts as a probiotic, providing yeast cells for the microbiome; in moderation it's actually healthy. Obviously any alcohol that assumes the role of master of the house, rather than the serf becomes a monster.
And now time has to pass; many of the best things in life cannot be rushed. A good deal of patience is required. It will be at least six months before I can publish a photograph of my first glass of Rose Petal Honey Mead.
If you are an eager beaver and have plenty of honey available then when in season experiment with other fruit; technically it is then known as a melomel rather than a mead.
This cherry guava honey mead is my favourite, though the peppadew is a close rival. Natural wines and beers contribute to the health of the gut; in moderation. For one person to enjoy say 2 bottles per week, 1.5 litres, you would need to brew about five large carboys every year.
There's a synergy of green living. Growing your own vegetables and keeping bees will lead onto many other hobbies and delights; like this rose petal honey mead. Getting away from food covered with pesticides, escaping from the sugar addiction and not having to sign up for a gym contract all contribute to your wellness.
Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself, the family and Mother Earth for future generations. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books.
Here are the back issues.
Did you find this page interesting? How about forwarding it to a friend, or book and food junkie? Better still, a Facebook or Twitter tick would help.
56 Groenekloof Rd,