This spicy peppadew mead is an exotic change from your more usual sweet melomels; for those who are not afraid to experiment with something different. It's not cheap to make, using about R400 of quality natural honey; you'll get 5 litres of pure gold for your efforts.
It's akin to the latest rage; completely natural wine. The best mead I have ever made; or tasted.
Experimenting with mead is really only for beekeepers; or those with money jingling in their pockets and time on their hands. There's no point in going to all this effort using commercial honey and ending up with a second-rate product.
It's important to make a few notes; the date you started the mead, the pH and SG readings. What you did to correct the acidity at each stage too is vital.
Since this spicy peppadew mead has fruit in it we should really call it a melomel.
The sugars for our spicy peppadew mead today comes from three sources; burr comb which can be seen floating, that extracted from the cappings, the so-called gleanings and some liquid natural honey straight from the bottling tank.
You can use any combination you like. Use of the cappings and comb means plenty of nutrients for the yeast. It is sometimes called an all-hive mead; no artificial chemicals like malic or citric acid need be added.
Place the fruit in a muslin bag with marbles to weight it down so that the peppadews and oranges do not float above the surface.
Black tea acts as an astringent. Brew for twenty-minutes and strain well.
On 3rd August, 2022, the pH was 2.0, quite acidic, and the SG was 1.050; the spicy peppadew mead tasted delicious. It was still fermenting.
I removed the bag with peppadews, lemons and marbles.
Add 1.25ml of sodium bicarbonate per 0.5 adjustment on 5 litres.
To raise the pH from 2.0 to 3.5 one would need 3 x 1.25ml = 3.75; about half a teaspoon.
For 15 litres of spicy peppadew mead I added 3 x 3.75 = 11.25 ml of bicarb; about 2 tsp. You can always use more later at a subsequent racking.
Add the bicarb very slowly; it will foam.
On the 15th August I racked the spicy peppadew mead into three 5 litre demijohns, all fitted with air-traps. The pH was 4.0 which is perfect. SG was 1.040; it's still bubbling gently. Gosh, this tastes unbelievably good.
On 13th November I racked the spicy peppadew mead for a second time. Fermentation continues very slowly; just a few bubbles. The pH was 3 and the SG 1.03.
Although the mead has not cleared completely since it is still fermenting, one demijohn has been bottled for immediate consumption. It is spectacularly good.
The other two demijohns have been set aside to mature and clear.
After 6 months siphon into clear wine-bottles.
Cappings contain about 38% honey but this is very dependent on how long they are left to drip and whether a hot knife, roller or spatula has been used.
These gleanings can be used to make your spicy peppadew mead. So, to get 2kg of honey you would need about 5 kilograms of cappings.
If using twenty litres of water you would need to make up 20kg of cappings, or some liquid honey. They would most likely contain plenty of pollen; nutrients for the yeast.
Place the cappings in a large bucket with rain water at about 50oC and stir until the honey has dissolved; allow to sit for a few hours as the liquid penetrates the cells and then agitate vigorously.
Filter off the wax and pour the liquid into the carboy together with the tea and spicy peppadews.
I now add one small piece of comb; prick the cells so the yeast can get to the honey.
Too much wax means you will not be able to add enough rainwater.
There are concerns about the fruit floating at the surface and out of the liquid. This can be countered by using a porous bag with marbles to weight the spicy peppadews down. The wax-cappings adding yet more nutrients for the yeast.
Next year I will be experimenting with smooth river pebbles for weights; properly sterilised, of course.
In short there are many different ways to make your spicy peppadew mead.
This spicy peppadew mead is for those who love brewing and wish to provide the known benefits of the chili family to some of the nether parts of the body.
It is sometimes called a spicy peppadew capsicumel.
8kg of honey made for a lovely but rather too-sweet spicy peppadew mead for my liking.
When I make the next brew in the summer of 2023 I will use 7kg for a semi-dry tipple. The fun is in experimenting to get the taste to your own liking.
In 23 litres use 8kg of honey for a sweet mead.
6.9kg for a semi-dry.
That is roughly 1tsp of honey less per glass of 125ml; about 6g.
Following the general guidelines of no more than two or three standard drinks makes a lot of sense; and an alcohol-free day at least once a week.
Yet in those with a generally poor lifestyle even one glass of this spicy peppadew mead per day could be detrimental to health.
So few people drink natural unpasteurised wines and beers that there is no research confirming whether it is detrimental or there is benefit. We take our guidelines from the Blue Zones where longevity is the keyword; their daily tipples together with an overwhelming good lifestyle appear to no harm whatsoever.
A "standard" drink is defined as follow.
Capsaicin is one of the important phytonutrient founds in spicy peppers. It is a powerful painkiller, limiting substance P and has benefits for the prostate gland where it slows the spread of malignant tumours.
One should eat chilies daily; or drink them in a spicy peppadew mead.
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