Posts Tagged ‘honey wine’

First posted on Aug 9, 2010
via Palace recreates wine fountain fit for a king

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First posted July 30, 2010
via Ancient Beehives Yield 3,000-Year-Old Bees

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Jars. Credit: Assaf Yasur-Landau & Eric Klein

Credit: Assaf Yasur-Landau & Eric Klein

Original Article:

science daily

University of Haifa

For the first time in excavations of ancient Near Eastern sites, a winery has been discovered within a Canaanite palace. The winery produced high-quality wine that helped the Canaanite ruling family to impress their visitors — heads of important families, out-of-town guests, and envoys from neighboring states. “All the residents of the Canaanite city could produce simple wine from their own vineyards. But just before it was served, the wine we found was enriched with oil from the cedars of Lebanon, tree resin from Western Anatolia, and other flavorings, such as resin from the terebinth tree and honey. That kind of wine could only be found in a palace,” says Prof. Assaf Yasur-Landau of the Maritime Civilizations Department at the University of Haifa, one of the directors of the excavation. The full findings of the 2015 excavation season was presented at the conference “Excavations and Studies in Northern Israel,” which took place at the University of Haifa, and in May 16 at the Oriental Institute in Chicago.

The excavations at the Canaanite palace at tel Kabri, which was established around 3,850 years ago during the Middle Bronze Age (around 1950-1550 BCE), are continuing to yield surprises and to provide evidence of a connection between wine, banquets, and power in the Canaanite cities. Two years ago, around 40 almost-complete large jars were found in one of the rooms, and chemical analysis proved that they were filled with wine with special flavorings, such as terebinth resin, cedar oil, honey, and other plant extracts. “This was already a huge quantity of jars to find in a palace from the Bronze Age, and we were really surprised to find such a treasure,” says Prof. Yasur-Landau, who is directing the excavation together with Prof. Eric Cline of George Washington University, and Prof. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University.

In this early excavation the researchers already found openings leading into additional rooms. They devoted 2014 to analyzing the findings from the excavation, particularly the chemical analysis of the wine residues. During the 2015 excavation season, conducted in the summer, the researchers returned to the ancient rooms, not knowing what awaited them.

The northern opening led to a passage to another building. Both sides of the passage were lined with “closets” containing additional jars. The southern opening led to a room that was also full of jars buried under the collapsed walls and roof. This was clearly an additional storeroom. “We would have happily called it a day with this discovery, but then we found that this storeroom also had an opening at its southern end leading to a third room that was also full of shattered jars. And then we found a fourth storeroom” relates Prof. Yasur-Landau.

But the surprises kept on coming. As in the previous seasons, each of the new jars was sampled in order to examine its contents. The initial results showed that while all the jars in the first storeroom were filled with wine, in the other storerooms some of the jars contained wine, others appear to have been rinsed clean, while others still contained only resin, without wine. “It seems that some of the new storerooms were used for mixing wines with various flavorings and for storing empty jars for filling with the mixed wine. We are starting to think that the palace did not just have storerooms for finished produce, but also had a winery where wine was prepared for consumption.” Prof. Yasur-Landau added that this is the first time that a winery has been found in a palace from the Middle Bronze Age.

He adds that the new findings, together with the evidence from previous years of select parts of sheep and goats, have strengthened our understanding of the way rulers used splendid banquets to strengthen their control. “In this period it was not normal practice to mix wine beforehand. Accordingly, in order to provide guests with high-quality wines, the palace itself must have had a winery where they made prestigious wine and served it immediately to guests. These splendid banquets, which in addition to wine also included choice joints of sheep and goat, were the way rulers stayed in touch with their ‘electorate’ at the time — not only the heads of important extended families, but also guests from other cities and foreign envoys.” On the basis of ancient Ugaritic documents, the value of the wine in the storeroom can be estimated at a minimum of 1,900 silver shekels — an enormous sum that would have been sufficient, for example, to purchase three merchant ships. By way of comparison, an ordinary laborer in the same period would have to work for 150 years to earn this sum.



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Scientists in Sweden are launching their own mead — an alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mix of honey and water — based on old recipes they say could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

Together with a brewery, the scientists, who have long studied bees and their honey, have launched their own mead drink: Honey Hunter’s Elixir.

Lund University researcher Tobias Olofsson said mead had a long track record in bringing positive effects on health.

“Mead is an alcoholic drink made with just honey and water, and it was regarded as the drink of the gods and you could become immortal or sustain a better health if you drank it,” Olofsson said. “It was drunk by the Vikings for example and other cultures such as the Mayas, the Egyptians, and it was a drink that was regarded as a very beneficial drink.”

Honey production is key to the research. In previous research published in 2014, Olofsson and Alejandra Vasquez discovered that lactic-acid bacteria found in the honey stomach of bees, mixed with honey itself, could cure chronic wounds in horses that had proved resistant to treatment.

They said their research had proved that these bacteria had the power to collaborate and kill off all the human pathogens they have been tested against, including resistant ones. They are doing so by producing hundreds of antibacterial antibiotic-like substances.

What makes Honey Hunter’s Elixir different from other types of modern mead drinks is that is uses all 13 beneficial honeybee lactic-acid bacteria and the wild yeasts from honey that normally ferment mead spontaneously.

According to the team, commercial honey does not contain these bacteria. Since the honey and water mixture is sterilized before later adding industrial wine yeast, all other life in the honey, including wild yeast, is killed off.

The researchers say the drink contains 100 billion of these 13 different living and collaborating lactic-acid bacteria.

Olofsson said they believed mead could have been the most efficient historical equivalent to today’s antibiotics, and they see Honey Hunter’s Elixir as a possible way of preventing infections.

“Well, we’ve seen in our research that the honey bees actually add great flora of lactic-acid bacteria in honey, so the mead, when produced, is actually fermented by these lactic-acid bacteria together with wild yeasts and the lactic-acid bacteria can really kill off all the dangerous pathogens that are even resistant against antibiotics,” Olofsson said. “So our thinking is that the mead, when you consume the mead, these (antibacterial substances in) lactic-acid bacteria in the drink can actually be transferred to your blood and help you when you are infected with dangerous bacteria or promote health, preventing infections.”

In 2005, Olofsson and Vasquez discovered that many beneficial bacteria reside within honeybees in a structure called honey crop, which is the organ in which honeybees collect nectar for honey production.

As a result, their research has since focused on how this can be applied to functional foods, as alternative medical tools against infections and bee health.

The mead is part of this research, which is summarized on the website.

“We will have volunteers drinking this drink and measure different parameters to see if the compounds the bacteria produce could end up in the blood system and for that to cause a prevention or a cure for infections,” Vasquez said, adding that more research was needed.

“We don’t really know at the moment exactly which kind of infectious disease we could counteract in the future because we need to understand this thoroughly,” she said. “At the moment we know that the bacteria produce very interesting compounds, a lot of different weapons like antibiotics but a lot of them that collaborate and those weapons or the key in use in this viable bacteria in the future.”

If human trials are successful, it could help doctors overturn the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, in both First World countries and also in the developing world where fresh honey is more readily accessible than antibiotics.

In recent years antibiotic resistance has become a critical issue for global health, with an ever increasing number of strains of bacteria developing immunity.

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2015. Follow Reuters on Twitter.


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Topic: Egyptian Bread

These articles by Hilary Wilson published in Ancient Egypt Magazine, (like the one on pomegranates) were intended for children but has information interesting to all.

Bread was the most important  part of the ancient Egyptian diet. With no rice, maize or potatoes, all  introduced into the country thousands of years later, the early Egyptians  depended on wheat and barley to provide the carbohydrates they needed for a  healthy, energetic lifestyle. Excavations around the Fayum revealed storage pits  where the harvested grain was kept. Later, grain was stored in beehive-shaped
silos, or special granaries with bunkers or bins for different types of corn. In  the home, wheat and barley were kept in pottery or stone jars, safe from rats  and mice. The remains of kitchens and household equipment show that the  processes involved in turning grain into bread were time-consuming everyday  activities in most homes.

A woman grinding grain. This is a reconstruction of the ancient method and can be seen at Dr. Ragab’s Pharaonic Village in Cairo. Photo: RP.

As there were no supermarkets where you could buy a sliced loaf, or even the ingredients to bake your own  bread, the making of bread started with the grinding of the grain into flour. To  make this easier, sometimes the grain was parched, which means it was rinsed in  water to remove some of the surface dust and dirt, and to soften the outer layer, before being spread on a mat  to dry. The parched corn was put in a mortar, a large bowl, usually made of  stone and set into the floor, where it was pounded with a heavy wooden pole to  start breaking up the hard grains. The cracked wheat was then put onto a quern,  a sloping stone with a bowl or trough at the lower end for collecting the flour.

The miller, usually a woman, knelt at the  higher end and crushed the grain into flour by rubbing another stone over it, up
and down the quern. This must have been a back-breaking job, even when the quern  was raised by being set into a brick-built ‘kitchen unit’. It was also such a  necessary part of domestic life that many models of women grinding grain have  been found. One, in the Leiden Museum in the Netherlands, is a mechanical toy,  operated by pulling a string to make the jointed figure move the rubbing stone  backwards and forwards over the quern.

The flour produced in this way was definitely  wholewheat. It contained lots of partly-crushed grain, some whole grains and a  large amount of contamination in the form of sand and grit from the quern. Some  of the sand may have been added deliberately to speed up the grinding process.  The finest sieves the Egyptians could make were not good enough to remove all  this débris, and even the flour of the highest quality, used for what they called ‘white’ bread, was never the smooth, fine stuff that we recognise. As the  Egyptians ate large quantities of bread, every day, it is hardly surprising that  they wore away their teeth in chewing it.

The commonest type of bread was made with  just flour and water. The mixture was kneaded and made into flat pancakes of  dough, which were cooked on a shelf over the fire or by being slapped onto the  wall of a clay oven. This is similar to naan bread being cooked in a tandoor except that the Egyptians used the outside  wall of the oven. The result was something like a pitta bread. People all over the world have been
making bread like this, with whatever flour they have available, for thousands  of years – chapattis  in India, tortillas in Mexico.

Barley and wheat were not only used to make  bread. A small metal cauldron from the tomb of Kha and Meryt, (Egyptian Museum,
Turin), seems to contain a type of porridge. But the second most important  product of grain in ancient Egypt was beer. I will return to this subject in  another Per  Mesut. Bread and beer were  usually made in the same area and the fermentation of the beer provided yeast
for making many more types of bread. This yeast was in the form of a liquid barm  and, when mixed with the flour and water, it produced bubbles of gas that caused  the bread to rise. This is called leavening.

Leavened dough was formed into loaves of many  different shapes. Some were cooked directly on the flat shelf of the domed  baking oven, like a modern cob or bloomer loaf. Others were made in clay moulds,  the ancient equivalent of baking tins, which could be stacked inside the oven
rather like the pottery in a kiln. Bakeries attached to the biggest temples had  rows of ovens, each producing hundreds of loaves at a time. Lists of offerings  to the gods include loaves by the thousand. Often the moulds had to be broken to  get the bread out, but larger moulds could be reused. At Giza, the bakery  providing bread for the pyramid builders produced huge loaves in  flowerpot-shaped moulds the size of a garden planter. These were big enough to  feed ten men for several days, though the bread was probably not very  appetising. It would have been burnt on the outside, stodgy in the middle, very  heavy and hard to digest, but it was food and the workmen would have been glad  of it.

A painted scene of an offering table from the Tomb of Roy at Thebes.

In temple and palace kitchens, cooks made a  wide range of baked goods. The Egyptian language included about forty words for  different breads, cakes and pastries. Some of these may refer to shape; round,  rectangular, oval, triangular and pear-shaped loaves are shown in tomb
offerings. Other names may indicate the method of cooking or added ingredients.  Dough was sweetened with dried fruit or honey, flavoured with herbs and spices,  or enriched with oil or milk. Fancy shapes were made for special occasions, like  the corn sheaf loaf made for the Christian Harvest Festival. Loaves and pastries  were handed out as gifts at religious celebrations. As part of their pay, people  who worked for the government, including soldiers, might receive tokens, which  they exchanged for ready-made loaves. One workman at Deir el-Medina left a
receipt for his purchase of sweet pastries from a temple bakery. Unfortunately,  no Egyptian cookery books have survived, so we can only guess at the recipes. I  will give you some suggestions about Egyptian-style cooking in the next  Per Mesut, so start grinding
that grain now!

Original article:


ancient egypt magazine on line has articles from past issues if you are interested.

By Hilary Wilson

June 2007

Hilary Wilson is the author of Egyptian Food and Drink, part of the Shire Egyptology series. published in 1988.


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Topic:Bottling of the golden elixer

You will note I am a bit behind in posting some ( oh well all ) of my mead endevors but if you could ask my friends I think they would say my time was worth it. In a taste face off my blackberry mead won over a fig mead from a commerical meadery- I must be on the right track.

2nd Racking- April 3, 2011

Time to rack again. There hardly any bubbles in the air locks but there is plenty of
lee on the bottom of all 3 carboys. Cleaned equipment and took the specific
gravity of the mead, reading at 1.010 which is a little lower than I expected.
After tasting a sample I am firm in my choice to add more honey to sweeten the
mead before bottling-but first I will bulk age all three bottles until
July.  This batch is a light golden, aroma is of apricot and apple and it  legs,( the viscous rivulets of mead that
cling to the sides of the glass).

3rdRacking- July 6, 2011

Since 5 gallons of mead is a lot to bottle all at once and since I am planning going
on a short vacation, I have decided to rack, sweeten and bottle only 3 gallons
at this time. The other two are in one-gallon carboys and can wait until I
return to be bottled.

The specific gravity is still 1.010. Again cleaned and sanitized all
equipment-always do this! This time I hit a glitch in the process. Racking went
as planned but I didn’t check the size of the stopper I was using and picked up
a size too small. Down it went into my 3 gallons of pale golden mead. When in
doubt-rack again-, which is just what I did. I’m not sure it the stopper would
have affected the mead at all; I just didn’t want to risk it.

BeforeI am able to add residual sugar (more blackberry honey), there
is one more step involved. To make sure that any remaining yeast will not resume
fermentation when I (you) add additional sugar, I followed the advice in The
Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm
and added potassium sorbate. It does not
kill the yeast (which were pretty much used up anyway); rather it prevents the
fermentation process from continuing.

Never fear I do have a plan!

Wed-July 6- rack mead (which you can see is where I am at).

Fri- July 8- add the potassium sorbate I mentioned above.

Sat- July 9- rack mead into my plastic fermenter and add honey

Sun- July 10-bottle the mead!

4th Racking- July 9, 2011

Yesterday I added the sorbate which much to my surprise dissolved right away. I took some
mead from the carboy and put it in a wine glass adding the sorbate to that,
thinking it would take time to dissolve and blend with the mead.

Note this is not the time you want to be agitating your mead any more than necessary.

As it turns out, and for future batches where additional sugar is needed, I can
just add the sorbate directly to whatever size batch of mead I make.

Today I racked the mead into my plastic 5 gallon fermenter to make adding the honey
easier and with plans to use leave the mead in the fermenter to make it easier
to bottle. Having the spigot to use to regulate the flow into the bottles will
be very handy indeed.

In total I added 2 ¼ pounds more of blackberry honey, one cup at a time, to three
gallons of mead. To incorporate the honey into the mead I used the long handled
spoon I had used to make the mead with in the first place. I was sure to stir
the batch slowly so as to not add in any more air than possible all the while
taking a taste after each cup of honey was added so I would end up with just
the right amount of sweetness.

As far as my calculations go the three gallons of mead should have approximately
12 and 3/4 pounds of honey-still math is not my strong suit and taste at this
point is the most important factor.

Bottling Day-July 10, 2011

I cleaned and sanitized all equipment including 15 full bottles and six splits. I
don’t expect to use this many bottles but I want to be prepared.

As I did the first two times I capped each bottle with foil to keep it sterile
until the mead is piped in, then it gets capped again until it is fitted with a
cork. The fermenter is fitted with a siphon hose that goes into each bottle. These are
filled and then capped. During this time I have corks sitting in sanitizer.
After all bottles are filled each is fitted with a cork and tucked away in my
wine cooler. I ended up with 12 full bottles (750ml) and 4 splits (375ml).

Note: Most of the above work I can do myself but I have to thank my husband for his
help and strong arm in carrying around heavy and awkward carboys, corking every
bottle himself, helping me taste the brew, and above all following my orders
and wishes when it comes the” making of the Mead”!

I have even gone so far as to create a mead label. Since I have  found evidence of Honey wine being made in Ancient Egypt I have used that theme for my meadery name and labels.

Welcome to:

 Star Flower Mead

Artisan Meadmaker

 Joanna Linsley-Poe

Original article:

By Joanna Linsley- Poe


Copyright August 2011

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Topic: Ancient Spirits-Beer and Wine

By analyzing ancient pottery, Patrick McGovern is resurrecting the libations that fueled civilization

via The Beer Archaeologist.

I’m on a short vacation-post next Tuesday on bottling my Blackberry Mead!!!

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Topic: A Toast to History

Terracotta kylix (drinking cup), Ancient Greece

Greek drinking cup


How commonly used items — like wine drinking cups — change through time can tell us a lot about those times, according to University of Cincinnati research being presented Jan. 7 by Kathleen Lynch, UC associate professor of classics, at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Lynch will present the research at the event’s Gold Medal Session, when archaeology’s most distinguished honor will be bestowed on her mentor, Susan Rotroff of Washington University.

UC’s Lynch will present a timeline of wine drinking cups used in ancient Athens from 800 B.C. to 323 B.C. and will discuss how changes to the drinking cups marked political, social and economic shifts.


Lynch’s specific area of study, which will result in a forthcoming book, is what’s known as the “symposium” in ancient Athens. These were gatherings held for nearly a millennia where communal drinking of wine was a means for cementing cultural norms and social bonds that carried over into the world of politics and business.

Think of these symposia as the ancient world’s ultimate cocktail parties, with established rituals and rules. An important aspect of any symposium was the wine cup, and the form of and the imagery on the cups reflected the shared culture of participants, as well as the larger social realities and changes in their world during the following periods:

  • Iron Age (1,100-700 B.C.)
  • The Archaic Period (700-480 B.C.)
  • The Late Archaic Period (525-480 B.C.)
  • The High Classical Period (480-400 B.C.)
  • The Late Classical Period (400-323 B.C.)
  • The Hellenistic Period (323-31 B.C)

Basic rules of Athenian symposia:

  • Couches or mattresses used by reclining participants were set in a circle or square. So, there was no formal position of status or group “head.”
  • Drinkers imbibed in rounds, so consumption of wine (mixed with water) was equitable. In other words, everyone got drunk at about the same rate. No teetotalers permitted.
  • Said Lynch, “The focus was on drinking communally and in equal amounts. Inhibitions were lost. In-group bonds were formed. “

Why study these items?

“Because,” stated Lynch, “People’s things tell you about those people and their times. In the same way that the coffee mug with ‘World’s Greatest Golfer’ in your kitchen cabinet speaks to your values and your culture, so too do the commonly used objects of the past tell us about that past. And, often, by studying the past, we learn about ourselves.”


  • The drinking gatherings (symposia) were reserved for the elite, probably allowing political factions to consolidate power and set themselves apart from the population at large. In other words, the drinking gatherings were for the “in” crowd.
  • At this time, even grave markers for the very wealthy came in the form of the mixing bowls (kraters) used to blend wine with water during symposia. In other words, the ability to sponsor these drinking events was what people wanted to be remembered for.
  • The drinking cups during this period were simply decorated and rested directly on a base (no stem).


  • After the turn of the 6th century B.C., changes in the fashion of drinking cups began, corresponding with Athens’ rising political power and rising dominance in the ceramic market. Variety and quality were high during this period. It was the beginning of black-figured pottery production as well as plain, black-glazed versions. Stemmed cups became more popular, probably because they were easier to hold while reclining.
  • The middle of the 6th century B.C. saw a rapid proliferation of cup types: Komast cups, Siana cups, Gordion cups, Lip cups, Band cups, Droop cups, Merry-thought cups and Cassel cups — last only a few decades in terms of popularity. Some of these remain popular for only a few decades.
  • Explained Lynch, “Possessing what was newest in terms of mode and style of drinking cups was likely equated with knowledge and status. The elites may have been seeking cohesion and self definition in the face of factional rivalries and populist movements. This hypothesis underscores how the drinking symposia — and specific cup forms identified with specific factions — might have been used by aristocratic blocs to cement group bonds in the politically charged environment of the time.”


  • The overall number of wine-drinking vessels increased dramatically during this period, pointing to the democratization of the symposium, as well as the democratization of the political and social arenas. The masses had become the political, if not the social, equals of the elites, and these masses were now enjoying symposia of their own.
  • It’s estimated that drinking vessels for symposia comprised up to 60 percent of the terra cotta fineware (collection of dishes) in the typical Athenian home of this period. “The typical home had few useful dishes for eating in contrast to many vessels designed for drinking wine in communal settings,” explained Lynch.
  • This period ends with the devastating Persian Wars, which Greece won. The proliferation of cup types fell, with red-figured drinking cups, introduced around 525 B.C., becoming the most popular.


  • Red-figured cups (cups decorated with red figures vs. black) remain popular through the first part of this period of cultural development in Athens, but the cups grow taller and shallower.
  • By the end of the 5th century B.C., Athens was weathering the Peloponnesian Wars and plague, and people were searching for an escape. This came in the form of an aesthetic restlessness. Fads in drinking cups came and went, but few developed into long-lived styles.
  • These new cup innovations tended to emulate the fineness commonly found in silver work at the time. For instance, there were many more plain, black clay cups with shiny surfaces. And delicate stamped and incised designs in clay cup interiors imitated metal prototypes on the cheap. In other words, the common terra cotta cups were “designer knock-offs” of the “high-end” designs found on silver cups.
  • Stemmed cups had finally run their course, being 200 years old at this point, and a stemless form became more popular.
  • Said Lynch, “People may have been seeking a visual antidote to the struggles of the period and a yearning for luxury at odds with daily conditions.”


  • Trends toward pseudo luxury (designer knock-offs) in drinking cups continued; however, the variety of these “silver-inspired” clay cup designs diminished after the turn of the 4th century B.C., probably because the forms were impractical. For instance, one clay cup — modeled on a silver drinking vessel — featured delicate high-swung handles that served no useful purpose in clay.
  • Also “running out of steam” in this period was the tradition of decorating cups with human figures. A decorative innovation, called West Slope, became popular at this time. It consisted of colored clay applied atop black-glazed surfaces to create the effects of garlands and wreaths. Human figures were no longer depicted.
  • Finally, as Athens fell under the sway of Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great, the symposium came full circle. It began in the Iron Age as a practice of the elite. Then, with the movement toward democratization in Athens, participation in symposia broadened. Now, in Athens’ Hellenistic period, the practice was again the prerogative of the elites as a luxury and display of ostentatious consumption. Equality was no longer important in a state that was no longer democratic but monarchical.

Lynch’s research on symposia of ancient Greece received funding from the Louise Taft Semple Fund of the Department of Classics at UC; the Samuel H. Kress Foundation; and the Sheldon H. Solow Foundation, Inc.

Original Article:



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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


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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…


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. 


 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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