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First published June 25, 2010
via First Beehives from Ancient Israel Discovered

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On this day ten years ago…
via Rosslyn Chapel was haven for bees

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 Topic: Racking day

 

 

 

 

Day 28-March 13, 2011

We are a bit short of 30 days but the bubbles in the fermentation lock have slowed to one bubble every 45 seconds or so, making it a good time to rack the mead. Since I made more mead than I intended I am using one 3-gallon carboy as well as two 1-gallon carboys today. I had at the beginning meant to make only 3 gallons but due to an error in my calculations I ended up with 5 gallons of mead in total.

Note: I mentioned using 14 ½ pounds of honey and 4 gallons of water would make a medium sweet mead but after doing more checking I now realize I will need to add more honey to get the sweetness in the mead that I desire. Three more pounds should do it.

This was a good lesson learned for me, and one that can be fixed. After the mead has finished it is possible to sweeten a mead that is not to your taste; which, after tasting this mead while it was being racked, I suspect I will have to do.

Racking is pretty simple using the large fermenter. You can see in one of the pictures the white bucket with siphon hose running from it. This hose went straight into the carboy down to the bottom. Turn on the spigot and fill the carboy until almost full. Put on the airlock with a bit of water in it to act as a barrier and you are done.

There was a great deal of lee in the bottom of the bucket so I suspect fermentation is pretty much over but I will give it at least 1 or two month in the carboy to be sure. I may in that time rack the mead again if there is any lee on the bottom. If left this can cause the mead to pick up an unwanted taste.

I have seen only a bubble or two in the airlocks, which is why I think the fermentation, is pretty much over. The mead can also be aged in the carboy

You can see the mead in the photos has a beautiful golden color and I can tell you it has a lovely has a sweet smell. At this stage it also has a very alcoholic bite when tasted, which will change as it ages. 

Original article:

By Joanna Linsley-Poe

copyright March 2011

Ancientfoods

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Topic: Egypt-Fermented Honey-Drink of the Gods:

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“Fermentation needs fire and pottery,” wrote R.J. Forbes in his Studies in Ancient Technology volume III published in 1965, part of a 9 volume set covering such topics of the ancient world. He goes on to say “ the techniques of fermenting came with organized

 agriculture, some traces of which go back to the Upper Palaeolithic Period. These would have probably involved wild grasses, and then only when there was an excess of grain. Regular production of ferment cereal grains would have only come about in Neolithic times.

Honey would have been the exception, plentiful and easy to turn into mead, it could very well have been the drink of choice, for the early inhabitants of the Nile River Valley; first with gathering wild honey and later with a large domestic apiculture, especially in the Delta region. As time went on that changed and honey became according to records we have the prerogative of the rich and of royalty. This has been well documented on the walls of many temples and tombs   

Although I can find very little except conjecture that the Ancient Egyptians produce Mead in any quantity; there are records that would seem to imply that they might have. There are countless references to the uses for honey in everything from cooking to medicine, so I decided to dig a bit deeper. Looking over my sources I discovered fermented honey is mentioned several times. One application is for use in an eye ointment, another is for treating herpes and still another for a prescription used in bandaging a broken bone. No explanation as to what was meant by the term “fermented honey” but why fermented at all if at least a portion did not go into the making of wine?

A fifth dynasty illustration in Ne-Woser-Re’s Solar Temple at Abusis, shows us what is thought to be a man kneeling in front of a pile of jars, holding before his mouth an elongated vessel. Because the word nft, for “to breath” or “to exhale”, is found above his head it is thought to mean he is a bee keeper using smoke as a repellent, but looking at the jars pictured I had another thought. The jar in front of the man looks more like a wine vessel. What if the man was breathing in the sweet smell of honey-wine before putting on the lid to the jar or he was preparing to sample some to be sure of its quality for the tombs owner?  In that same scene you can see two men (third from the left), one is pouring something, probably honey, from a small vessel into a much larger one typically used for storing wine. Although it is not labeled honey-wine, it could very well have been. An interesting reference also comes from the scenes depicted on vizier Rekhmire’s tomb in Thebes (eighteenth dynasty). Presiding over the temple treasury Rekhmire receives officials who bring honey as part of their dues. He also watches over the manipulation of the precious liquid. My guess is the latter is honey-wine!

The Ancient Egyptians even had a word for honey-wine, which I found in E.A Wallis Budge’s An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary.

Arp: in one of its many meanings is the term for honey-wine. It also means, wine, wine cellar, wine shop etc. Each meaning for the word is depicted by a different set of hieroglyphics.

More to come…

PostScript:

Food: Gift of Osiris covers wine and beer in vol2-but not honey-wine. Vol 1 does mention honey used as a primer for wine and beer-it is still up to us to”dig” for the facts where honey and wine are concerned. 

References:

 E.A Wallis Budge, An  Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Vol 1 

Darby, Ghalioungui, Grivetti: Food: The Gift of Osiris. Vol 1 

Manniche: An Ancient Egyptian Herbal 

Forbes: Studies in Ancient Technology, Vol 3

Tomb drawings:

1. Handling of Honey: Tomb of Rekh-mi-re at Thebes, New Kingdom

2. Honey production: Ne-Woser-Re’s Solar Temple, Old Kingdom

Original article:

By Joanna Linsley-Poe

copyright 2011

Ancient Foods

 

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Topic: This years batch:

 

 

 Sunday: February 13, 2011

This year I will be making an Oregon Blackberry Mead using White Labs liquid sweet mead yeast # WLP720.  As I mentioned previously it is better to make a larger quaintly of mead because less is lost during the racking process it must go through several times to get rid of dead yeast cells (called the lee) that build up on the bottom of the must as it is turned from honey water into honey wine. I started out to make 3 gallons of mead but ended up making 5 gallons. I use the no boil method but got my must a little warm for the yeast and had to add more cold water to equalize the temperature and of course I had to add more honey.

The plan was for 3 gallons of water and 11 ½ pounds of honey. I ended up with 4 gallons and 14 ½ pounds of honey, which should make a medium sweet,(with the emphasis on sweet), mead. Just to clarify a point I forgot to figure in; the dissolved honey will increase your volume so if 3 gallons is what your looking to make use only 2 gallons of water to start and if you fall below you can always add a little. Of course the more honey, the sweeter the mead.

So— 14 ½ pounds of honey and 4 gallons of water should make the mead I want. Add to this a yeast nutrient called Fernaid K and that’s all the ingredients you need. Now this will make what is known as a show mead, (one without any added fruit, spices etc.).

I also took the specific gravity, which indicates how much sugar is in the must to start. This is taken several times down the line and will let you know by the reading how much of the must has been converted to alcohol at each reading. One important step to not be forgotten-keep a log or journal of the steps you use to make your mead. I have found mine from last year to be invaluable to this years brew. Here is my log for this year:

Mead Log Day 1-Feb 13, 2pm:

Cleaned and sanitized my equipment with One Step-No Rinse and Iodophor. Do this at every stage for the best results!

Dissolved 11 ½ pounds of Blackberry honey in 3 gallons of warm 96 degrees water (won’t do that again it took to long to cool-use water about 75-85 degrees instead). Aerated the must and added 1 1/2 teaspoons of the nutrient and aerated again. Kept aerating for about 30 minutes to cool the mixture down but I finally decided to add 1 gallon more of cold water, about 65 degrees. This brought the must temp down to around 85 degrees. Pitched (added) all the yeast, 35 ml., and aerated vigorously-and I do mean vigorously!

Note: This is the time you want to add oxygen to your must-helps the yeast, later you must leave it alone!

  Covered fermenter bucket with plastic wrap, to watch the initial process like last year.

Day 1- Feb 13, 11 pm:

Uncovered must. A small amount of bubbles are on the surface, honey, musty sweet smell. Aerated with plastic coated wire whip and covered.

Day 2- Feb 14, 9am:

Strong C02 smell. Bubbles on the surface, more than yesterday.

Went to the market to buy more honey. 11 ½ pounds in 4 gallons will make a dry mead and so I bought 3 pounds more Blackberry honey to make medium sweet mead. Added ½ teaspoon more of nutrient.

11am Added 3 pounds of Blackberry honey to the must. Amazing reaction; the must exploded in foam-not sure why but as soon as the yeast start to become active, as I learned last year, the must will have some foam on it, just not this much. I must have had at least 3 inches or more of foam. It dissolved back into the must in a little while. Aerated the must and covered once again.

Day 2- Feb 14, 11 pm:

A good amount of bubbles on the surface. Sweet honey alcohol smell. Foamed again like this morning when I aerated the must.

Covered again with plastic wrap.

Day 3- Feb 15, 10am:

A few bubbles on the surface. Nice honey musty smell. Tiny carbonation bubbles showing just at and below the surface. This looks a lot like both meads last year when they were already in the 1 gallon carboys. Aerated the must once again, and again it foamed. Not much CO2 distention in the plastic but this could be in part because the yeast are just in entering their aerobic (taking on oxygen) stage and also the container I am using to start the fermentation has a larger surface on top and the CO2 gases would be more spread out than last year.

11pm:

No aeration tonight I will do the final aeration tomorrow before putting on the plastic lid and air lock. Bubbles on surface and a sweet honey smell.

Day 4-Feb 16, 9am:

Waited for the last aeration until today so I could use my blender to give the must one last good kick of oxygen. I am concerned that my plastic-coated wire whisk is not doing a full job since there is so much liquid. Three or four cups, whipped in the blender and sired into the must should do it. 

Bubbles on top-carbonation showing just below the surface and a sweet honey smell.

Put aprox 3 cups of mead into the blender and whipped it into a frenzy. The entire 3 cups turned into foam.

Stirred the foam into the must with a long handled spoon (you will see it in the photos).

Couldn’t get the lid to seal, so back on with the plastic until my husband can help.

7pm:

With the lid and airlock sanitized for the second time today my husband was able to get the lid on with the help of a hammer!

It’s a good thing the fermenter has a spigot to drain the mead because otherwise we could be in trouble here. I put the air lock with its rubber stopper in the hole on the lid and right away it started bubbling. -Good Sign!

Now it’s a waiting game, as the mead will stay in its frementer for a couple of weeks during the primary fermentation phase.

I will continue to monitor the mead each day but that is all, until I rack it, or transfer it,(leaving the lee or dregs behind), into a glass carboy (3- 10 gallon glass bottle just like large water bottles, though you can get them in plastic like the fermenter).

Note: The air lock get a small amount of water put in it to act as a barrier to any wild yeast, bacteria etc, while permiting the CO2 to be expelled.

More to come at racking time in a couple of weeks.

In the mean time I have some info you might find helpful.

gotmead.com This is a fantastic site, it helped me a lot.

The Compleat Meadmaker, by Ken Schramm is a great guide and like the gotmead site-very helpful.

ckick on the link and go to Amazon.

Original article:

By Joanna Linsley-Poe

copyright 2011

AncientFoods

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Topic The oldest Fermented Drink? Part 1 

Pictures of Oregon Raspberry Mead and Wild flower Mead. 

  

 
 
 
 Mead is one of the most ancient of drinks, yes I do realize there is a debate between beer and mead makers as to which is older, but here I will just state that in my humble opinion, mead is by far the oldest-you are welcome to argue the fact if you must, I am open to debate.

Being as how I am admittedly interested if not downright obsessed with all things ancient as it relates to food I felt I should embark on the great adventure of making wine and beer myself. Now I do not have the space to make grape wine and I’m not a great fan of most beers, but I do love my honey-wine; so what a better place to start.

Last year I started with two batches of mead, both 1-gallon sized. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it enough to keep up the hobby and I wanted one of them to be made using wild yeast so I wanted to go small.  The lesson with small (1 gallon as opposed to 3 or 5 gallons) is that you loose to much mead along the way what with racking to eliminate dead yeast cells etc, and it’s a lot of work so if you are interested I would advise at least 3 gallons to start, besides you can always through a mead party! I will post some pictures from last year along with ones from this year as I go along. As to why I didn’t blog on it last time….

The first batch of mead in 2010 was Oregon Raspberry made with commercial sweet mead yeast, and the second, Wildflower made by capturing wild yeast.  Both were a success and produced enjoyable meads but were totally different. The names reflect the honey I used for both. The Oregon Raspberry made medium sweet mead with approximately 10 percent alcohol and the Wildflower made a dry mead with about 13 percent alcohol.

I used 3 ½ pounds of honey for both and the same amount of yeast nutrient so I was able to see what the different types of honey and yeast produced. I won’t go into the procedure for these two but I will be doing so for this year’s batch.

Wild yeast can be unpredictable so I will be using commercial yeasts from now on but as you will be able to see in the photo’s I am posting not only do the meads taste different there variations in the way they look as well-mostly the foam on the wildflower mead. There was a difference in the color as well but it doesn’t show up as much in the photos.

More to come….

 

Original article:

By Joanna Linsley-Poe

copyright 2011

AncientFoods

Equipment

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Topic; Ancient Bees

Egyptian bee keepers

Honeybee remains found in a 3,000-year-old apiary have given archaeologists a one-of-a-kind window into the beekeeping practices of the ancient world.

“Beekeeping is known only from a few Egyptian sources, from a few tombs and paintings. No actual hives have been found,” said Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Amihai Mazar.

The hives were uncovered in 2007 at an excavation in Tel Rehov, Israel, home to the flourishing Bronze and Iron Age city of Rehov. Mazar and his team found more than 100 hives, capable of housing an 1.5 million bees and producing half a ton of honey.

In a paper published June 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers analyzed bees preserved in honeycomb that was charred, but not completely burnt by fire that likely destroyed the rest of the apiary.

Unfortunately for would-be makers of ancient honey, heat damaged the bees’ DNA, making it impossible to revive their genes in modern bees. But the researchers were at least able to identify them as Apis mellifera anatoliaca, a subspecies found only in what is now Turkey. It’s possible that A. m. anatoliaca’s range has changed, but more likely that Rehov’s beekeepers traded for them.

Local bees are notoriously difficult to handle. During the 20th century, when beekeepers tried to establish a modern industry in Tel Rehov, they ended up importing A. m. anatoliaca — a literally sweet example of history repeating itself.

Original article:

wired.com

By Brandon Keim 

7/2010

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No Time

Well I’ve had more than my share of travel, packing and such this past weekend so I’m behind on this blog but I can   share with you one thing-my mead turned out fantastic-liked by those who had tasted mead before and by those who had not!  Most of all I am pleased with it- but more on that soon!

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Topic-Me and Mead

On vacation today-back on Tuesday with a blog about the oldest of the fermented drinks-Mead and my firs try at making it.

I will be tasting it along with friends-today, but of course I’v tried it along the way and am pleased with my first atempt. Pitfalls and a lot of yelling -, plus hours( ok it just seamed like hours) watching the airlock for a sign of bubbles-showing fermentation—–more later, pictures too—-

 

 

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Topic: Bees-

Recently discovered beehives from ancient Israel 3,000 years ago appear to be the oldest evidence for beekeeping ever found, scientists reported.

Archaeologists identified the remains of honeybees — including workers, drones, pupae, and larvae — inside about 30 clay cylinders thought to have been used as beehives at the site of Tel Rehov in the Jordan valley in northern Israel. This is the first such discovery from ancient times.

“Although texts and wall paintings suggest that bees were kept in the Ancient Near East for the production of precious wax and honey, archaeological evidence for beekeeping has never been found,” the researchers, led by Guy Bloch of Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote in a paper in the June 8 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The hives have a small hole on one side for the bees to come and go, and on the other side is a lid for the beekeeper to use to access the honeycomb. The archeologists used carbon dating on grains that had spilled from a broken storage jar next to the hives to estimate that they were about 3,000 years old.

“The exceptional preservation of these remains provides unequivocal identification of the clay cylinders as the most ancient beehives yet found,” the researchers wrote.

The scientists used a high-resolution electron microscope to study the bee remains, and found that their legs and wings suggest they belonged to a different subspecies than the bees currently found in Israel. In fact, the ancient bees most closely resemble those found in modern-day Turkey. That suggests the ancient people may have imported a specialized bee species for its superior characteristics, such as a milder temper or better honey production.

The researchers found three rows of these hives in a courtyard that used to be part of a large architectural complex during the 10th to 9th centuries B.C.

“The location of such a large apiary in the middle of a dense urban area is puzzling because bees can be very aggressive, especially during routine beekeeping practices or honey harvesting,” the researchers wrote. They speculate that maybe the honey was so valuable it was worth placing in such a congested area to keep it safe.

Overall, the findings “suggest that beekeeping already was an elaborate agricultural practice in Israel 3,000 years ago,” Bloch and colleagues wrote.

Original Article:

Livescience.com

Clara Moskowitz

6/2010

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