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elderberries
Elderberry Mead

2 Qt. ripe elderberries
1 gallon water
1/2 c. fresh orange peel
2 cinnamon sticks (6")
1 tsp. vanilla (dextrose if possible)
2 Qt. honey
1/4 c. lemon peel
1 T. minced crystallized ginger
1/4 t. clove
1/4 t. allspice
2 packet of champagne yeast or 2 envelopes dry yeast

Place all ingredients except honey and yeast in a large stock pot. Bring slowly to a boil so that it smells heady from the spices. Add the honey and stir until it is completely dissolved. As the mixture slowly boils, scoop off the froth that forms. Once the honey is dissolved, remove the mixture from the heat.

Activate the yeast by suspending it in 1/4 C warm water. When the berry/honey mixture is cooled to lukewarm, add yeast and cover the pot with a thick towel. Allow to stand at room temperature for three days.

Strain, crushing the berries, and bottle the mead mixture into loosely corked containers or gallon jugs with a loose top to allow fermentation pressure to escape. (Tip: use a balloon as the stopper as it will inflate and deflate as the pressure changes.) When the bubbling stops, sample to be sure the mixture is sweet enough. If you want to make it sweeter, pour into a pot and add more honey until the results are pleasing.
Cork or close bottle tightly. Store for AT LEAST 6 months. The mead will continue to mellow, and will taste better the longer you can stand to wait.

NOTE: I once tried it at 2 months and it was rough. 4 months later it was so smooth, I could hardly believe it was the same batch.

You can use this recipe for blueberries, raspberries, grapes.... you name it! Even honeysuckle flowers!
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Recipe courtest of Tina Sams, editor of The Essential Herbal ~ the magazine by, for, and about herbie people and the things they love - herbs! Check out her website at www.essentialherbal.com - it's a great herbal magazine! (And for those of you who live in the area, we do carry her magazine in our shop so you can stop by and check it out.)

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