Every year I’m excited about fermenting up something tasty with raspberries. Raspberry wine, raspberry mead or even a light summery raspberry beer.
Just one problem…raspberries are wicked expensive. Do you know how many raspberries it takes to make even a gallon of raspberry wine?
For beer or mead, it takes about a quart in a one-gallon batch, or over a gallon of fresh fruit in a 5-gallon batch to really get the flavor to come through. Around these parts, even pick your own berries are pricey, and those from my own raspberry patch are gobbled before they hit the bowl.
So why not a micro-batch?
There are a lot of great reasons to make a micro-batch mead. For raspberry mead, a micro-batch is a great way to keep your costs down without sacrificing flavor. With just barely a handful of raspberries, you can make a quart batch of raspberry mead that is brimming with raspberry goodness.
It’s also a good way to see if a sweet and VERY fruity mead is your cup of tea.
I use a kit by Fermentools that looks a lot like a home brew setup, and if you choose to do bigger batches later you’ll need the rubber stopper and water lock that are included in the kit.
I’m hoping at some point to try out these silicone fermentation lids from Mason Tops because they look super easy to clean.
Start by adding a bit of honey to the bottom of a quart mason jar. The basic instructions for a one-quart batch of mead have you add between 2/3 of a cup of honey and 1 cup of honey to get the right ratio of honey to water in your jar. With the added fruit sweetness, stick to 2/3 of a cup.
I’ve tried a full cup for this recipe, and it was cloyingly sweet and just a hair shy of cough syrup. Adding 2/3 of a cup is more than enough for a sweet dessert mead, and if you’re looking for something drier, go with 1/2 cup.
For raspberries, I had a half-pint (one cup) easily at hand. They were super fresh, about 10 minutes old from my patch. One cup is all I could keep from eating out of hand before I made it back to the kitchen, but it was plenty for this micro-batch.
With honey and raspberries in the jar, getting your mead going is pretty effortless. Bring about 3 cups of water to a boil on the stove, then cool slightly for about 30 seconds before pouring it directly into the jar over the raspberries and honey.
Stir to dissolve the honey and incorporate the raspberries.
Once it’s cooled to room temperature, or at least cooled to 90 to 100 degrees so it won’t kill the yeast, add in a brewing yeast. For meads, I use packages of champagne yeast. One pack is enough to pitch a 5-gallon batch, so using the whole packet is overkill for a micro-batch.
I usually use about 1/4 of a yeast packet because it’s hard to actually extract less than that from a tiny packet. Dissolve it in room temperature chlorine-free water and pour it into your mason jar.
Once it’s all said and done you should have 2/3 cup honey, 1 cup raspberries, a bit under 3 cups of water and about 1/4 of a packet of champagne yeast in your mason jar. Be sure to leave about an inch of headspace to allow for expansion and bubbling during fermentation.
Add on your mason jar fermentation kit and allow it to ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight for about 6 weeks.
The initial fermentation phase can be a bit intense, so after the first week if any fruit has made it into your water lock, pop it off and clean it out. Be sure to get it back on tight for the rest of your fermentation time.
When fermentation is complete, carefully pour off the mead into another jar, leaving the sediment behind.
I bottle mine, and allow it to age in Grolsch bottles for at least 2 weeks, preferably a bit longer.
If you’re looking for more details on how to make a micro-batch mead, you can read an introduction to the micro-batch method here.