Friday, December 19, 2008
I could find no reference to cantaloupe mead on the Internet. Hopefully that's just because nobody had thought of it and not that it can't be done! My son, Stephen, came up with this idea, and I'll try to age some of it for his wedding or some other special occasion. Also, I'm only using 2 lbs of honey in this batch in hopes of making a drier mead that Linda and other dry wine lovers will enjoy.
2 lbs Rice's Lucky Clover Honey
1/2 of medium, peeled, un-ripe cantaloupe (diced and thrown into the must)
1/2 of a peeled tangerine, with sections cut in half
1 gal of distilled water
2-1/4 teaspoons of yeast
Estimated Bottling Date: 3/26/2009
12/14/2008 @ 8:00PM
Made must and pitched yeast
12/15/2008 @ 5:30AM
Fermenting... vigorously. Poked a second hole in the balloon.
12/16/2008 @ 7:00AM
The Cantaloupe Melomel doesn't smell as good as the Biscuit Mead. I'm wondering if it is going bad. Will Kalif said that he uses a campden tablet to kill anything in fruit that might take over. He said if I smell it every week or two it would be obvious if it is going bad. Of course, it may not smell as sweet as the Biscuit Mead because it has less honey in it and the cantaloupe was not ripe at all (and thus not sweet). I hope it all works out. Otherwise I'll have to convince my wife to let me spend more money for ingredients!
12/17/2008 @ 7:45AM
Well, it doesn't smell worse this morning; it is about the same -- not bad, just not sweet. So, hopefully, everything is OK. The fermentation is still very aggressive, and only the slightest brown residue is left on the bottom of the jug from the 2 lbs of honey. It's amazing how quickly the yeast devours the honey; by tomorrow, there will be none left. That's about three days less time than it took the Biscuit Mead, which is about right since I'm using a pound less honey in this batch.
I just learned two cool things from an online article: 1) Fruit contains micro-organisms that can cause an infection and spoil the mead. I'll be using campden tablets in my next batch of melomel -- whether or not this batch succeeds; 2) You can make a liquor by freezing a portion of your mead overnight and then removing and disposing of the frozen ice in the morning and re-bottling the unfrozen portion (which has a much higher alcohol content).
12/19/2008 @ 8:55PM
This stuff is really smelling good now. I think I slipped the noose on any infection.
01/01/2009 @ 4:45PM
I squeezed the air out of the balloon today for a sniff. It smelled great, but the balloon never recovered, so I decided it was time to rack it. My wife, Linda, helped me with it. She commented that it smelled good. We had a taste of it. It is definitely pretty dry, so that is going as planned. However, my wife also commented that she could not taste the cantaloupe.
I think it may have a cantaloupe essence, but I didn't really pay much attention to it. I lost very little of it while racking, so I can afford to drink a little more of it in a couple of weeks when I check on it again. I'll pay more attention then. The cantaloupe probably wasn't ripe enough on this batch. Live and learn, I suppose.
Linda said she would rate it as a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. She clarified, though, that a wine she recently tasted -- and liked pretty well -- would have received a 7 out of 10 in her opinion. So, I guess that's not too bad. She said it didn't seem very strong -- "kind of watery". Hopefully it improves with age.
Tasted it today. It tastes like a slightly sweetened, watery, rubbing alcohol. There is no cantaloupe taste or essence, probably because the cantaloupe was un-ripe and bland. I've asked for help on the gotmead forums. Hopefully someone there will have a way to save it. Otherwise, it will be great for fueling a Bunsen burner.
01/17/2009 @ 1:00PM
I got a lot of good feedback on the forums, everything from letting it continue aging to racking it onto fresh cantaloupe. Haven't made up my mind yet, though; I've got plenty of time to figure it out.
01/25/2009 @ 5:30PM
I purchased a cantaloupe tonight. It isn't ripe, but there are no ripe ones to be had around here this time of year. I'll keep it in my closet in the dark for a while and hope it ripens. Then, I think I'll blend it (and possibly filter it) and put the juice into the mead. I *think* the fermentation is completely finished. Hopefully the yeast isn't just dormant. If fermentation fires up again after I put fruit in, it may just burn off the cantaloupe again.
02/03/2009 @ 6:00PM
Well, here is now *not* to do things. Tonight I put 3/4 of my VERY ripe (on the verge of being bad?) cantaloupe into the blender and pressed "liquefy." Then I poured a little of the mead out into a wine glass (to make room for the cantaloupe juice) and dumped the juice into the mead -- with a small prayer that the alcohol in the mead would counteract anything in the cantaloupe juice that might cause trouble.
The mead now has a bunch of pulp floating on top of it and is hazy. Hopefully it will clarify before too long. Hopefully it will not get an infection. Hopefully fermentation will not start back up.
Oh yeah, then I tasted the mead that I had poured into the wine glass. The taste had improved 100%. It tasted almost like a delicate, dry, white wine! Oh, no!!!!
02/04/2009 @ 8:30PM
Looks like fermentation has started back up. So, it will probably not get sweeter. But if it manages to maintain a cantaloupe essence, I'll be happy. Some of the pulp has gone to the bottom. Hopefully that is a tiding of good things to come.
02/06/2009 @ 6:00AM
About half of the pulp has sunk to the bottom. I'm happy about that, but I've got a think of a good way to strain that junk out and re-rack it soon. I've got to come up with a better way of making cantaloupe mead. This batch is nerve-racking.
03/01/2009 @ 4:00PM
Bottled it. Quite frankly, it isn't worth the bottles. It tasted *almost* acceptable with chicken and fried potato wedges.
I called it Tommy's Biscuit Mead because I used my wife's bread machine yeast for it. A friend laughed and said it would taste like sourdough bread. For a detailed tutorial on how to make this basic, but tasty mead, go here.
Special thanks to Will Kalif from StormTheCastle.com for helping me through the process and providing the recipe.
3 lbs Rice's Lucky Clover Honey
1 large orange
1 gal of distilled water
2-1/4 teaspoons Red Star Bread Machine Yeast
Estimated Bottling Date: 3/6/2009
11/23/2008 @ 9:15PM
Made must and pitched yeast
11/24/2008 @ 6:00AM
All of the honey has been consumed. I'm a little concerned about how quickly that went. How can the main fermentation process continue for another 1-1/2 to 2 weeks? The fizzing sound of the CO2 being released is still pretty active, though. It definitely smells very good, pretty much like mead. I'm also concerned about how to siphon out the liquid without sucking up the lees. I'm going to research racking canes to see if they have any sort of filtration built in. Also, I'm thinking that, when I rack it, I'm going to make a airlock out of clear plastic tubing. Since I don't have a 1-Gallon glass jug available (and I don't want to purchase one just yet), I'll probably just use a milk-jug-style plastic water jug for racking and then use some wine bottles for bottling. However, I need to research the ramifications of re-using corks.
12/10/2008 @ 9:25PM
If I empty the balloon, it is very slow to refill. I can still see that there are a fairly large amount of bubbles rising from the bottom, so I know the fermentation process is still going on. I'm four days shy of three weeks, and the tutorial ( http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/fast-cheap-mead-making.htm ) says to rack it after 2-1/2 to 3 weeks. I may try to hold out until the weekend. I can't wait to get my first taste.
12/12/2008 @ 6:30PM
The balloon was sagging this morning, so I picked up a nice, clear water jug from the grocery store and a 10-foot length of tubing. Stephen helped me rack the mead. I had him hold the tube half way into the must jug while I started the siphoning. Then he held the tube to the bottom of the receiving jug while I took over the end in the must jug. Holding the tube to the bottom of the receiving jug helped prevent air from mixing with the mead. The tubing has a natural tendency to curve, so I was able to keep the opening flat against the side of the must jug and move it downward slowly as the water level decreased. Then I tilted the jug a little to get as much of the mead out as I could without sucking up the lees. So, filtration was unnecessary. Stephen and I took a small sample of the mead. It was deliciously sweet, and we could taste the alcohol in it. I then placed a new balloon and rubber band on top of the clear jug to let the mead clarify. Now to wait three months! Stephen had a great idea: Cantaloupe mead! Stevo's Cantaloupe Melomel.
12/13/2008 @ 8:00AM
There appears to be a fair amount of fermentation going on, as the balloon inflated rather quickly. There is also a lot of sediment/lees in the bottom of the new jug. I think next time I will arrange some filter for racking.
It appears that the fermentation is pretty much over. Quite a bit of lees had accumulated in the bottom of the jug. However, I'm not seeing any more white powder forming in the ridges of the jug (this is not a perfectly smooth jug). I'll watch it for the rest of this week. If no more fermentation takes place, I may rack it again into a clean jug so that the mead isn't sitting on lees. Interestingly, it no longer smells as sweet as it did during the fermentation process. Probably because it isn't producing as much gas. It will be interesting to see what it tastes like if/when I rack it again.
It's coming along very nicely. I can just barely see through it now. So that's an improvement. It still smells really good. I'm thinking pretty hard about racking it again, maybe this weekend, using a filter. There is a fair amount of lees in the bottom again, and I definitely want to avoid any off-tastes if I can.
I squeezed the air out of the balloon yesterday, and it never recovered. Linda helped me rack it this afternoon. I used a piece of a nylon stocking as a filter. This kept the floaties (probably fragments of the original orange) out. We tried to sample a little bit of it, but it was so good I ended up pouring about 1/3 of a wine glass of it! Linda actually liked it and said she thinks it has a higher alcohol content than the typical wine. It is good indeed. That should be the last time I have to rack it. I'm seriously thinking about racking 1/2 gallon of it into a glass jar I have and drinking the rest. I wonder if my patience will hold...
It has made a leap in clarification. This morning I could see my hand through it. This wasn't possible two days ago.
2/08/2009 @ 6:30PM
Wend ahead and bottled it. It seemed really clear in the fermenting bottle, but I think it still has a VERY little bit left to go. No matter. It tastes GREAT. I bottled it in a 1/2 gallon fruit juice jug and a 1 quart Poweraid bottle. Decided to go the cheapest route since we're tightening up our budget somewhat and everybody needs to pitch in.
I had a little less than a pint left over, and Linda and I drank it. She says she really liked it and gave it an 8 out of 10.