Grit

HISTORICAL Honey Mead

Mead has been a passion of mine ever since my husband and I started our homestead in the beautiful rolling hills of New York’s Finger Lakes region. Another of my passions is medieval history, and while these two might seem worlds apart, learning how mead was brewed historically can offer insights into natural brewing techniques. One of the tricks I learned from medieval beekeeping manuals is how to wash honeycomb to harvest every last drop of honey. While modern combs built on frames can typically be cleaned with an extractor, sometimes the honey has solidified because of cold temperatures or long storage. In such cases, many modern beekeepers will choose to melt down and salvage the wax, but this causes them to lose the honey. By washing the comb, you won’t waste any honey — and that frugality tickles my homesteading fancy.

Harvesting Honey Water

Historically, bees were kept in hives that lacked an internal frame system. This meant that the combs were free-hanging, and the waxy comb structure would have to be processed to harvest thefor bees and beekeepers alike. But when an extractor can’t be used, either because you want to collect only sections of a frame, or because the honey has crystallized and won’t budge, then the ancient method of washing comb can be used to make a honey solution that’s perfect for fermenting into mead.

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