Melomel Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide to Fruit Flavored Mead

A traditional melomel recipe, or sometimes called fruit mead, will produce a delicious drink that combines the sweetness of honey with the rich flavors of various fruits. This age-old drink has been enjoyed for centuries, having its roots in ancient cultures, where mead was viewed as the beverage of the gods. Melomel offers a wide range of flavor profiles determined by the fruits used in each recipe.

A melomel recipe will include honey and water, much like traditional mead, but with the added element of fruits. There are numerous variations of melomel, including pyment, which is made with grapes, and perry, which is crafted with pears. The choice of fruit and honey determines the final taste and characteristics of each melomel recipe, with some offering bold and tangy flavors, while others showcase a more subtle and delicate essence.

Making melomel at home can be a rewarding experience, allowing individuals to experiment with different fruit and honey combinations. The key to a successful melomel is the proper fermentation process, which typically begins with adding fruit during primary fermentation. This method ensures maximum flavor extraction from the fruit and a balanced integration with the honey, resulting in a harmonious and enjoyable honey wine.

In this article we will provide you with a melomel recipe you can use to make your own at home as well as providing tips on how to develop your own melomel recipe…

MeloMel Recipe

The following is a Blackberry Melomel Recipe but can easily be modify to be made with any fruit of your choosing as we will explain further in this article.

Batch Size: 1 gallon (3.8 liters)


– 3 lbs (1.36 kg) raw honey (preferably wildflower or clover)
– 2-3 lbs (0.9-1.36 kg) fresh blackberries (can also use frozen if fresh aren’t available)
– 1 gallon (3.8 liters) spring water (minus the volume of the honey and berries)
– 1 packet wine yeast (e.g., Lalvin 71B or EC-1118)
– 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
– Optional: 1 campden tablet (for sanitation)

(see below for instructions and equipment needed to brew this recipe)

Creating Your Own Melomel Recipe

The process for crafting melomel is generally straightforward and similar to making traditional mead, with slight variations to accommodate the addition of fruit.

To start creating a melomel, the first step is to gather the ingredients. Typically, this includes honey, water, fruit, and yeast. The ratio of honey to water can vary depending on the desired sweetness and alcohol content, but a standard measure is 1 part honey to 4 parts water. Choosing the right fruit is vital; some popular choices are berries, pears, mulberries, and even grapes.

Before beginning the fermentation process, you need to prepare the fruit. In most cases, this involves washing, peeling (if necessary), and chopping the fruit into smaller pieces to optimize the extraction of flavors. The fruit can be added during the primary fermentation stage. This method is advantageous as it allows the fruit to provide necessary nutrients that promote healthy yeast activity and helps regulate the must’s pH.

Once the fruit is prepared, combine honey and water in a fermenting vessel to create the must. The fruit is then added to the must mixture, and yeast is carefully introduced. Active yeast is essential for converting the sugar found in honey and fruit into alcohol.

Fermentation can take anywhere from weeks to months, depending on factors such as the specific yeast strain and temperature. Many people will include a secondary fermentation into the process, this is where the liquid is transferred, or “racked,” to a separate container to allow for further fermentation without the fruit solids. It is during this stage that the melomel starts to clarify. It is crucial to monitor the fermentation progress through airlock activity and gravity readings using a hydrometer.

Once fermentation is complete, the melomel can be bottled and left to age. This step allows the flavors to blend and develop over time, enhancing the taste even further. Proper bottling and storage are essential to prevent spoilage and ensure consistency in the final product.

Melomel recipes may vary depending on the fruit used, desired alcohol content, and personal preferences. However, understanding the basic principles of incorporating fruit and honey, as well as properly monitoring the fermentation process, can lead to a delicious melomel.

Types of Fruits to Use

Berries Melomel

One of the most popular choices for melomel recipes is using various berries, as they provide bold flavors and vibrant colors. Common berries used in melomels include blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. For the best results, choose fresh, ripe berries, ensuring their natural sweetness and fully developed flavors contribute to the final product. It’s important to thoroughly clean and sanitize the berries before adding them to the mead, as this helps maintain a clean fermentation process.

Fruit Puree Melomel

Another approach to crafting delicious melomel is by utilizing fruit purees. This method is especially advantageous when working with fruits such as peach, pear, cherry, and plum. To create a fruit puree melomel, first, wash and pit the fruits if necessary. Then, puree the fruits in a food processor or blender. It is worth noting that a little additional water may need to be added to the mixture to facilitate blending. The final fruit puree should be smooth, allowing it to easily blend with the mead. Incorporating fruit purees can result in a more robust fruit flavor and a creamier mouthfeel, making it a popular choice for many melomel makers.

Lemon and Lime Melomel

For those who prefer a more refreshing, citrus-forward melomel, incorporating lemon and lime juice or zest is a wonderful option. The high acidity and tangy flavors of these fruits provide a welcome contrast to the sweetness of the honey used in mead production. When using lemons and limes in a melomel, it’s essential to carefully remove only the fruit’s zest or outer peels, as this contains the oils that contribute to the desirable citrus flavor. Avoid incorporating the white pith, as it imparts a bitter taste. Lastly, juicing the lemons and limes can provide an additional layer of acidity and flavor complexity to the final melomel.

Quantity and Measurements

Honey Quantity

When making melomel, the quantity of honey plays a crucial role in determining the final alcohol content (ABV) and specific gravity of the brew. A common recommendation for honey quantity is around 3 lbs (1.36 kg) per gallon (3.78 L) of water. This ratio provides a good balance between the fermentable sugars needed for alcohol production and the flavor profile of the mead. However, it is also important to adjust the amount of honey you use to achieve the desired outcome in terms of sweetness, ABV, and profile.

Fruit Measurement

Fruit is the key ingredient that defines melomel and contributes to its unique flavor profile. Fruit measurements vary depending on the type of fruit used and the desired flavor intensity. Generally, you can use 1 to 4 lbs (0.45 to 1.81 kg) of fruit per gallon (3.78 L) of melomel. It’s important to consider the fruits’ natural sweetness and acidity (pH) levels when deciding on the fruit addition amount, as they influence the overall taste and fermentation process.

Here are some common fruit measurements per gallon of melomel:

– Berries: 3 – 4 lbs (1.36 – 1.81 kg)
– Stone fruits: 2 – 3 lbs (0.91 – 1.36 kg)
– Citrus fruits: 1 – 2 lbs (0.45 – 0.91 kg)

Water Amount

Water is the primary diluent in melomel and affects both fermentation and flavor concentration. The amount of water used in a recipe should be proportional to the honey and fruit quantities. Generally, it is recommended to use 1 gallon (3.78 L) of water per 3 lbs (1.36 kg) of honey to maintain a balanced honey-to-water ratio for optimal fermentation and desired ABV.

For every 1 lb (0.45 kg) of fruit added, consider adjusting the water amount by 1 to 2 cups (0.24 L to 0.47 L), depending on the desired fruit flavor intensity. It is essential to monitor the total volume of the melomel to ensure proper fermentation and avoid overflow during the fermentation process.

Brewing and Fermentation

Brewing Equipment

To start brewing a melomel, the essential equipment includes:

– A primary fermenter: This can be a food-grade bucket or a carboy, which should have a capacity of at least 5 gallons.

– Airlock and stopper: The airlock allows CO2 gas to escape, preventing oxygen and contaminants from entering the fermenter.

– A secondary fermenter: Glass or plastic carboy is preferred to transfer the melomel after primary fermentation.

– Sanitizing supplies: Cleanliness is essential when brewing. Use a sanitizer like Star San or Iodophor to sanitize all equipment and surfaces.

Process of Fermentation

1) Sanitize the equipment: Begin by sanitizing all brewing equipment to prevent contamination.

2) Mix the must: Combine honey, water, and fruit (fresh, frozen, or puree) in the primary fermenter. Stir the mixture well to dissolve the honey and aerate the must. This will provide oxygen for yeast health.

3) Add yeast: Choose a suitable yeast strain for fermenting melomel, like wine or champagne yeast. Rehydrate or pitch the yeast according to the manufacturer’s instructions and introduce into the must.

4) Primary fermentation: Attach the airlock and stopper to the primary fermenter and store it in a dark place with a stable temperature. Fermentation will begin within 24-48 hours, as indicated by airlock bubbles. Monitor the fermentation progress using a hydrometer. Primary fermentation typically takes 1-2 weeks.

5) Secondary fermentation: Once primary fermentation is complete, carefully siphon the melomel into a secondary fermenter, leaving the sediment behind. The secondary fermenter should be fitted with an airlock and stopper, and stored in the same dark place as before. Secondary fermentation can take several weeks or months, depending on the desired end product.

6) Aging: After fermentation is finished, age the melomel for a few more months to further develop its flavors and clarity. This step is optional but recommended for the best results.

Maintaining Fermentation Temperature

Maintaining the proper fermentation temperature is crucial for yeast health and the overall quality of the melomel. Generally, the ideal temperature range for fermentation is between 60°F and 75°F (15°C and 24°C). However, specific yeast strains vary, and following the manufacturer’s recommendations is crucial.

To maintain fermentation temperature, consider the following:

– Place the fermenter in a room with a consistent temperature within the desired range.

– Use a temperature-controlled fermentation chamber if available or invest in a fermentation wrap to help regulate the temperature around the fermenter.

– Monitor the temperature with a sticker thermometer attached to the fermenter or use a digital thermometer with a probe for more accuracy.

Keep in mind that temperature fluctuations can stress the yeast, leading to off-flavors and sluggish fermentation. Maintaining a suitable and stable fermentation temperature is essential for producing high-quality melomel.

Racking and Bottling

Racking Methods

Racking is the process of transferring the melomel from one container to another, leaving behind any sediment or other unwanted materials. This helps to clarify the drink and prepare it for bottling. There are a few different methods of racking:

– Siphoning: Using a food-grade hose or tubing, siphon the melomel from the primary fermenter to a second sanitized container, such as a carboy or another fermenter. Be sure to avoid sucking up sediment from the bottom of the primary fermenter.

– Racking Cane and Auto-Siphon: A racking cane is a long, rigid tube with a small filter on one end, used in conjunction with an auto-siphon pump. This makes the racking process more efficient and minimizes the risk of disturbing the sediment.

Bottling Procedure

Once the melomel is properly racked and has reached its desired clarity, it’s time to bottle. Here are the steps:

1) Sanitize: Make sure all bottles, corks or caps, and any other equipment you’ll be using are properly sanitized using a no-rinse sanitizer, such as Star San.

2) Fill: Use a bottling wand or siphon setup to fill each bottle with melomel. Be careful not to overfill, as this can cause issues with corking or capping and allow for CO2 to escape during the conditioning process.

3) Cork or Cap: Securely seal each bottle with a cork or cap, depending on your preference. For corks, use a corker to properly insert them into the bottle mouths. For caps, use a capper to crimp the edges of the cap around the bottle mouths.

4) Store: After sealing the bottles, store them in a cool, dark place to allow for proper conditioning and the development of any remaining CO2. This process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months before the melomel reaches its peak flavor.

By following these racking and bottling procedures, the melomel will have the best chance of developing a clear, stable, and delicious final product.

Additives and Nutrients

Nutrients Addition

Melomel, a type of mead with fruit, requires proper nutrients to ensure successful fermentation. When making melomel, there are a few important components to consider adding for an optimal fermentation process: sugar, yeast nutrient, and yeast energizer.

1) Sugar: Fruit contributes natural sugars that will ferment along with honey. However, you may need to adjust sugar levels depending on the fruit used in making melomel.

2) Yeast Nutrient: This provides essential elements needed for yeast growth and successful fermentation. A typical nutrient addition schedule for melomel consists of:

Dose 1: Add 1.5 tsp yeast nutrient and 0.75 tsp yeast energizer when you pitch the yeast.

Dose 2: After 48 hours (2 days), add 1 tsp yeast nutrient and 0.5 tsp yeast energizer.

Use of Additives

In addition to nutrients, specific additives can enhance the clarity and flavor of melomel:

1) Pectic Enzyme: Helps break down pectin, a polysaccharide naturally present in fruits, thus preventing pectin haze and improving the clarity of the final product.

2) Acid and Acid Blend: Use acid or acid blend to adjust the acidity of melomel and stabilize the pH levels. Be cautious about the quantity since adding too much can make the flavor too sour.

3) Yeast Energizer: This additive boosts yeast fermentative activity, and it’s typically used along with yeast nutrient. Refer to the nutrient addition schedule mentioned above.

Final Tasting and Adjustments

Flavor Enhancement

When tasting your melomel, it’s essential to assess the flavor profile to ensure a well-balanced mead. Fruit flavors should be present but not overpowering. If the fruit flavor is too subtle, consider adding fruit extracts or purees during the secondary fermentation stage. Remember to start with a small amount and taste as you go to avoid over-flavoring.

In some cases, adjusting the acidity of your melomel may be necessary. This can be done by adding small amounts of lemon juice, lime juice, or food-grade acid, such as malic or tartaric acid. Add the acid solution incrementally, carefully tasting after each addition until the desired balance is achieved.

Adjusting Sweetness

The sweetness of your melomel is usually determined by the amount of honey and the fermentation process. If the mead has reached a desired level of fermentation but is too dry, consider back sweetening to improve the flavor. You can do this by adding a honey solution (a mixture of honey and water, boiled and cooled) to the mead, stirring to combine.

– For a dry melomel, add a small amount – around 1/4 cup honey solution per gallon.

– For a medium sweetness, try adding 1/2 cup honey solution per gallon.

– If you prefer a sweet melomel, add around 3/4 to 1 cup honey solution per gallon.

Be cautious when adjusting sweetness, as adding too much may result in an overly sweet final product. It is crucial to taste the mead as you make adjustments, and remember that it is always possible to add more sweetness, but it cannot be easily removed once added.

Alternative Melomel Recipes

Melomels recipes can be easily customized to suit individual tastes, preferences, and even the season. Below are a few alternative recipes that showcase unique combinations of fruits and other ingredients.

Capsicumel is a spicy-sweet mead that combines chile peppers with fermented honey. To make capsicumel, simply add chopped fresh or dried chile peppers into the fermenter during the primary fermentation stage. The heat level can be easily adjusted to your liking by choosing different chile varieties and adjusting the quantity of peppers.

Perry is another fruit-based melomel made from fermented honey and pears. To create a perry, juice fresh pears and combine the juice with honey in a ratio of 3:1 pears to honey. Mix well, and then add in a suitable wine yeast or champagne yeast to kick off fermentation. As with any melomel recipe, use spring water to reach the desired volume.

Rhodomel is a melomel variation that introduces rosehips to the mix. When attempting a rhodomel, add crushed or chopped rosehips during the primary fermentation stage. The rosehips will impart a delicate floral aroma and slightly tart flavor to the mead. This melomel pairs exceptionally well with desserts like buns, milk, and bread.

Ginger Melomel is another innovative melomel recipe featuring ginger, elevating a simple mead through its bright, aromatic character. To create a ginger melomel, add grated or sliced fresh ginger to the fermenter during the primary fermentation stage. The amount of ginger can be adjusted to achieve the desired spiciness, depth, and complexity.

Melomel Recipe FAQs

What are the essential ingredients for a melomel recipe?

The primary ingredients needed for a melomel recipe are honey, water, and fruit. The type of honey and fruit you choose can greatly impact the flavor profile of your melomel, so it is essential to select them thoughtfully. Additionally, you will need yeast for fermentation.

Are there any popular types of fruit to use in melomels?

Some popular fruits to use in melomels include apples, which create a cyser; grapes, which create a pyment; and pears, which create a perry. Other common fruits include raspberries, redcurrants, and cherries. However, you can experiment with various combinations and types of fruit to create a unique melomel.

Do melomels require a different aging process than traditional mead?

Melomels generally follow a similar aging process to traditional mead, with an allowance for the additional flavors and characteristics imparted by the fruit. Fruit flavors can change and develop over time, so experimenting with different aging periods can yield different results. Aging can take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the specific recipe and desired outcome.

Can melomels be made in small batches, such as 1 gallon?

Yes, melomels can be made in small batches, including 1-gallon quantities. Smaller batches may require some adjustments in ingredient ratios and fermentation times but can be a great way for homebrewers to experiment with various fruit combinations and flavors without committing to larger quantities.

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