Joes Ancient Orange Mead: A Timeless Recipe Explained

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead is a renowned and beloved recipe among mead enthusiasts. Originating from Joe Mattioli, this recipe gained popularity over the years for its simplicity and delicious, sweet flavor. As you explore the world of mead-making, Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead serves as an excellent starting point, requiring minimal effort and easily accessible ingredients.

Mead, an ancient fermented beverage made from honey, water, and yeast, has been enjoyed for thousands of years across various cultures. What sets Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead apart is its signature blend of ingredients, such as oranges, raisins, cinnamon, and cloves. These ingredients impart unique flavors and provide essential nutrients for fermentation.

As you embark on your mead-making journey, Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead offers a straightforward yet rewarding experience. With readily available ingredients and an easy-to-follow recipe, even a beginner can achieve great results.

History of Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead is a popular mead recipe that has gained widespread attention over the years. Joe Mattioli created the recipe and it was first posted on the GotMead website. The simple ingredients and easy-to-follow process make it an ideal choice for beginners in mead making.

The recipe’s origins can be traced back to Joe Mattioli’s desire to craft a quick and delicious beverage using everyday kitchen ingredients. By doing so, he created a unique and flavorful mead that quickly gained popularity among homebrewers and enthusiasts alike.

Since its introduction on GotMead, Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead has gone viral, spreading across the internet and leading to countless variations tried by millions of people. Its success is mainly due to its approachability, making it an excellent starting point for those looking to venture into mead-making.

As you try your hand at making Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead, remember that its creator aimed to provide an accessible and enjoyable experience for both novice and experienced mead makers.

Ingredients Needed

Fruit and Spices

To prepare Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead, you’ll need several key ingredients to bring out the flavors and aromas in your homemade mead. Make sure to gather these fruit and spices:

– 1 large orange: Cut the orange into eights or smaller, including the rind. You don’t need to remove the zest, as it can add extra flavor to your mead.

– Cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg: You’ll need 1 stick of cinnamon and 1 whole clove for this recipe. Optional spices are a small pinch of nutmeg and allspice to enhance the flavor.

– Raisins: A small handful (approximately 25) of raisins will aid in the fermentation process and impart additional taste to the finished mead.

Fermentation Essentials

The fermentation of your Ancient Orange Mead will rely on some crucial ingredients:

– Honey: You’ll need 3 to 3 ½ pounds of honey, preferably clover honey or a blend of your choice. The use of different honey types can alter the flavor of your mead, allowing for some creative variations.

– Bread yeast: Use 1 teaspoon or 1 packet of Fleishmann’s bread yeast for the fermentation process. While it might seem unusual to use bread yeast in mead making, it’s an essential part of this ancient recipe.

– Water: Your mead will require water to make up a total of 1 gallon. Depending on your preference, you can use tap or bottled water, but make sure it’s clean and chlorine-free.

Now that you have all the necessary ingredients for Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead, you are ready to combine them and start the brewing process. Remember to follow the recipe and measurements closely to ensure the best results in terms of flavor, aroma, and consistency.

Equipment Requirements

Primary Fermentation Equipment

Before you begin brewing your own Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead, you’ll need some essential primary fermentation equipment. First, invest in a 1-gallon carboy; this clean, glass container will be used to hold the liquid during fermentation. To prevent contaminants and allow gas to escape, use a water airlock fitted to the carboy’s opening. For measuring and transferring of ingredients effectively, a set of reliable kitchen scales and a measuring cup are necessary.

Here’s a quick list of primary fermentation equipment for your convenience:

– 1-gallon carboy
– Water airlock
– Kitchen scales
– Measuring cup

Secondary Fermentation Equipment

After the primary fermentation stage, the mead will need to continue the process in a secondary fermentation vessel. You’ll need another clean 1-gallon carboy or an equivalent food-grade container for this. A sterilized siphon will aid in transferring the mead between carboys, minimizing sediment transfer from the primary to the secondary fermenter.

Finally, you’ll need ample bottles to store the finished mead. Choose high-quality, sealable bottles designed for homebrew or wine storage to ensure the mead stays in optimal condition.

As a summary, here is the secondary fermentation equipment you’ll need:

– 1-gallon carboy (or equivalent food-grade container)
– Sterilized siphon
– High-quality bottles for storing mead

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead Recipe


To make Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead, you will need the following ingredients:

– 3.5 lbs Clover or your choice honey or blend (will finish sweet)
– 1 large orange (later cut in eights or smaller, rind and all)
– 1 small handful raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
– 1 stick cinnamon
– 1 whole clove (or 2 if you like, these critters are potent!)
– 1 pinch nutmeg or allspice (very small)

Begin by dissolving the honey in some warm water and pouring it into a clean 1-gallon carboy. After washing the orange well to remove any pesticides, slice it into eights and add both the slices and rinds into the carboy. Include the rinds, as they contribute to the mead’s unique taste. Add the raisins, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to the mixture.


Once your ingredients are combined, add a mead yeast packet and yeast nutrient. Aerate the mixture well to promote healthy fermentation, and seal the carboy with an airlock. Store the carboy at room temperature (approximately 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout fermentation.

Major foaming during fermentation is expected, so ensure the carboy has some headspace to accommodate the foam. Fermenting mead takes two to three weeks. Check the airlock routinely to ensure it remains functional. At this stage, there is no need for additional feeding.


After the fermentation process is complete and the bubbling has stabilized, it is time to rack your mead. Racking involves transferring the clear liquid to another container, leaving the sediment behind. This helps create a clearer mead with a cleaner taste. Siphon the mead into a new, sanitized container and add a new airlock.


Allow the mead to age in the new container for an additional two to four weeks, or until it has reached the desired clarity. Afterwards, siphon the mead into sanitized bottles, not disturbing the sediment at the bottom. Seal the bottles with caps or corks, and store them in a cool, dark place. Your mead can be enjoyed immediately or aged for a few months to enhance its flavor further.

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead Variations

Batch Sizes

When making Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead, you have the flexibility to choose the batch size according to your preferences and needs. A 1-gallon batch is perfect for beginners, as it allows you to experiment and familiarize yourself with the process. To make this batch, you’ll need:

– 3.5 lbs of honey
– 1 large orange
– 1 small handful of raisins

For those looking to make a larger quantity, a 5-gallon batch might be more suitable. Simply multiply the ingredients by five and adjust the fermentation vessel accordingly. Be aware that this might require extra time and attention to ensure a successful fermentation.

Unique Flavor Variations

Apart from adjusting the size of your mead batch, you can also explore unique flavor variations to create a more personalized Ancient Orange Mead. Some popular variations include:

1) Golden Nectar: Replace the regular honey with a blend of golden or lighter-colored honey, such as wildflower or orange blossom. This can result in a more delicate and floral flavor profile.

2) Spiced Mead: Add cinnamon, cloves, and a pinch of nutmeg or allspice to the recipe. These spices can enhance the flavor and make your mead more warming and complex. It’s crucial to be conservative with your spice quantities as they can become overpowering.

3) Fruit Additions: Experiment by adding different fruits, such as apples, berries, or cherries. Use your creativity to find the perfect combination of flavors that suits your taste buds.

Remember, when trying these variations, it’s essential to monitor the fermentation process closely and take note of any adjustments made to the original recipe, as taste and fermentation may be affected.

In summary, Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead is a versatile recipe allowing for both batch size adaptations and unique flavor variations. You can personalize your mead-making process and create a drink that suits your taste preferences.

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead FAQs

How does orange zest affect the mead’s flavor?

Orange zest adds a bright citrus flavor and a subtle bitterness to your mead. The oils from the zest infuse into the mead, bringing a delightful aroma and taste. Be sure to wash the oranges thoroughly to remove any pesticides and avoid using the white pith, as it can impart unwanted bitterness.

What spices work best with orange mead?

Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg or allspice are common spices used in Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead recipe. These spices add warmth and depth to the mead’s flavor profile, complementing the sweetness of the honey and the citrus notes from the oranges. You can adjust the spices to your taste, but remember that cloves can be quite potent, so use them sparingly.

Are there variations of the ancient orange mead recipe with different fruits?

Definitely! You can experiment with various fruits to create your unique mead flavors. Berries, stone fruits, and even tropical fruits like pineapple or mango can be used to make delicious mead variations. Make sure to balance the fruit’s acidity and sweetness, and consider adding complementary spices or herbs to enhance the flavor.

How do I balance sweetness and dryness in orange mead?

Balancing sweetness and dryness in orange mead involves choosing the right honey and controlling the fermentation process. If you prefer a sweeter mead, use a higher quality honey or a blend and monitor the fermentation progress to stop it when you have reached your desired sweetness level. For a drier mead, you can use a more neutral or less sweet honey, and allow the fermentation to go further, so the yeast consumes more sugar.

Can oranges be substituted with other citrus fruits in mead?

You can substitute oranges in recipes like Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead with other citrus fruits in mead, such as lemons, limes, or grapefruits. Each citrus fruit will bring a different flavor profile to your mead. Lemons and limes will have a more pronounced tartness, while grapefruits can uniquely balance sweet and tangy notes. Remember that depending on the chosen fruit, you may need to adjust the sweetness and acidity levels.

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