Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wild Rose Petal Mead - Now THAT is Medicine!

This blog post is part of the Cauldrons and Crockpots 'Wild Things Round Up'. Each month they choose a different wild food and participants write in with their scrumptious recipes. I highly recommend you check this out! 

 Harvesting wild roses is easily one of my favorite activities. Heading out on a warm summer morning, smelling the roses before the briars come into view, and then quietly plucking the petals while bees buzz through the thickets. Then heading home with a basket of rose petals, practically swooning from the heady scent that then fills the kitchen. 

Making medicine with roses leaves me with luxurious honeys and elixirs and other treats that money just can’t buy. 

This year I wanted to try something new with our wild roses and mead seemed like a lovely endeavor. I basically adapted my dandelion flower wine recipe for wild rose petals. You can see a video of the dandelion flower wine here

To make this recipe you’ll need
  • 10 oz of fresh rose petals (roughly 2 quarts)
  • 1 pound raisins (chopped well)
  • 2.6 pounds of honey
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice and zest
  • 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient
  • Champagne yeast
  • Cheesecloth
  • One gallon jug and airlock
  • Patience
If you’ve never made wine before there are some tricks to it. The most important thing is that this needs to be a sterile (or at least very clean) process, otherwise you run the risk of making time-intensive vinegar. 

Some wine makers use sulfite tablets to be sterilize everything. We simply pour boiling water over everything that goes into our mixture. Buckets, bowls, spoons, thermometer, etc. This isn’t technically sterile, but so far this has worked for us. 

To begin making the mead, boil 1 gallon of water along with the honey for twenty minutes. Skim off any scum that accumulates on the surface. 

While that is boiling combine the rest of the ingredients, except the yeast, into a food grade bucket. 

Wild Rose Petals To make this batch I gathered both rose petals and rose buds. These roses were so intensely fragrant - I just wanted to curl up with them all day long.

I know someone out there is going to ask, "Can I use any roses, like the ones in my front yard?" You CAN use any roses, but don't waste your time with ones that don't smell and, obviously, be sure they haven't been sprayed. 

(Golden raisins have been treated with sulfur. If you want to avoid this and get dark raisins they will work as well but they may make your wine a darker color) 

1/2 cup of lemon juice and zest
Be sure to get organic, you can also try oranges.

1/4 tsp yeast nutrient
I am often asked if you need this. I’ve always used it and have been told it is necessary for making meads because the honey can slow the fermentation process (aka honey wines). You can easily find it at your local wine supply store or online.

Handful of sliced cherries. 
Okay, you don’t really need the cherries. I added them because I really wanted to make sure my mead turned out some shade of pink. Wild rose mead would not be the same if it came out a dull brown. 

Once the honey and water have boiled for 20 minutes, pour this liquid over all the ingredients in the food grade bucket. Stir well with a clean spoon. 

Cover this mixture with a cloth and let it cool until it reaches about 85 degrees F. Prepare the yeast as it is instructed on the package and then add that as well. 

Now your mead is in the primary fermentation stage. Let it sit covered for 10 days, stirring it gently every day. I pour boiling water over a metal spoon each time I stir. 

After ten days you can strain off the mead. I do this by using a cheesecloth lined strainer, so I can really squeeze the juice out. Not super sterile, but so far, it’s worked! 

The solid ingredients can be composted and the remaining liquid can be put into a carboy. 

We use an old apple cider jug that just happens to fit an airlock (with a little prodding). If there is significant head space in your carboy you will want to add enough (sterilized water) to fill it up. We boil water, let it cool to room temperature, and then fill it up. 

This is your second stage of fermentation. Let this sit for 60 days or so, and then siphon it out into another gallon jug and affix that with an airlock (this is called racking). Some people do this 1-3 times before bottling. Honestly, we rarely do it all. I’ve heard that racking improve flavor and keeps the wine a pretty color. I have to say that I have the most incredible tasting St. John’s Wort Cherry Mead that was never wracked and is an intense rose color. 

I know that right now you are thinking, WOW, this is amazing! I can’t wait to taste my own wild rose petal mead. Unfortunately I do have some bad news for you. 

Your mead will be ready in a year. I am not kidding. But I promise you that mead is going to be worth ten times it’s weight in gold. And if you get into the habit of making it every year, you can be sipping on your wild rose mead while you are brewing up your newest batch. 

Want to learn more about roses? See this blog post. 


Gwendolyn Garcia said...

O! How Lovely! Such a rich, aromatic, decadent brew.... I have been spending time getting to know the wild roses. The roses closest to my home are not prolific bloomers, and I'm not quite sure as to why. The petals are heart-shaped which I love! The fruits are beautiful red berries which are filled with tiny seeds. The buds are tiny and precious and the petals range in colour from a pale pink to a deep warm rose. The scent is pure and sweet, especially in the early morning hours while it is still wearing the dew but enjoying the warming rays of sunlight. Mead making seems like a bit of a daunting task at this time with everything else I am striving to accomplish, but I shall be tucking away this recipe for future reference. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely article!

Amber said...

Excellent! I haven't found any roses with which to make such a mead, but I hope to find a nearby source.

I've done a berry mead this year so far, and I can't wait to make a rose syrup. Maybe a rose-infused honey, too!

You've done a great job with the tutorial/guide to your mead-making, and it's gorgeous in the bucket and even more luscious in the carboy!

PATRICIA said...

Very nicely done! Next year, I'll be sure to try your recipe...this year my rose beverages were rose petal cordials and brandied rose buds...delish!

Stephany said...

I credit you and your rose creations for inspiring me to plant my rugosas. I think this one might win, though.

the Dyhanaverse said...

wow, how pretty! yeast nutrient, hmnn, maybe that's why my last mead came out with such low alcohol content. Have to try over with this recipe. Thanks!

Stephen said...

I'll try your recipe on Saturday. My wife makes lovely rose petal jam and I'm having a great time experimenting with pasley, Nasturtiums and Lemons.

My Nasturtium wine is begining to taste like ginger and the recipe is here.

narf7 said...

I can't wait to try this when our wild roses bloom! I doubt that it will last long after the year is up but what an amazing promise it holds :)

Anonymous said...

Now that seems to be something worth trying. My grand father made the best dandelion wine that has ever touched these lips. Unfortunately he never left the recipe, but every time I taste some that someone else has made,
it reminds me of him.

Raine Lee Ritalto said...

I have a batch of this in process. I've had it in the Carboy for 4 days with very minimal to no bubbling in the airlock. Shouldn't this have a vigorous fermentation? Champagne yeast is what the recipe uses. Is this a sparkling mead? Is my fermentation stuck or is this how it's supposed to be? I noticed you didn't use an energizer. Should it have been included in the recipe? If my ferment is stuck, should an energizer be added to get it going again? Or what do you add to get it fermenting again? There's a layer of sediment at the bottom of the Carboy. When does this clear? The must was strained before filling the Carboy. Does racking clear this sediment? My mead is starting to have a vinegar after taste. Will this go away with aging or how do I get rid of it? I carefully sanitized everything with bleach and thoroughly rinsed it so I don't think that is the cause of the vinegar after taste ssue. Please help! I want my mead to turn out great. Thanks!

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Hi Raine,

I am sorry you are having troubles. Unfortunately I am not an expert mead maker and I don't know how to troubleshoot the issues you are having because I've never had them myself. You may try asking in some home making wine forums because I think these are common problems that somebody should be able to help you with.

I have never used an energizer with my wines/meads.

The sediment at the bottom never clears. You have to rack the wine to get rid of it.

I've never had a vinegar taste in my wines so I don't know. I hope you can find your answers. Sorry I can't be of more help.

Amber Shehan said...

(Rosalee, I hope you don't mind if I help!)

Raine Lee Ritalto - How many times have you opened and tasted the mead? I suggest you add more yeast, close it up, shake it up a bit, and let it sit some more. Cover it with a towel to keep out the light, and check it every few days to make sure it isn't growing anything fuzzy. :)

Oftentimes, a vinegarish mead will clear and refine over time. Bottle it when it is done fermenting, or rack it to secondary and add some more sugar syrup if it isn't sweet enough.

I've have some meads act "dead" but turn out lovely with time and a bit of helpful ignoring. :)

Amber from Pixie's Pocket

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

I don't mind at all! Thanks Amber.