Joe's Ancient Orange Mead

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Miraculix

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Aaand it is bubbling! I used the well known German yeast brand "ja!". It is the cheapest one can buy :) Otherwise, 100% true to the original recipe.
 

amber-ale

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JaOM recipe was designed to mimic what ancient people did (and had to work with). It is also a simple way for beginners to start or for people who cannot get exotic wine/ale yeasts.
If it is too sweet, add more water/less honey or use a wine yeast.
You can remove any sulfates/oils from your raisins by rinsing them with warm water until the oils are gone. Say 4 times.
It should be much tastier after it has aged 3 months
 

Sebass

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than you have broken a cardinal rule of Joe's. But yes, that should indeed let you push up the alcohol.
I'm not really going for high alcohol abv. I would prefer it finishes sweet. I just wanted quality yeast and was worried bread yeast will stall or be inconsistent and produce like 8% so i went with Montrachet yeast. It says it has up to 13% abv so if i aimed at 17% with 3.5 lbs of honey, maybe it will finish sweet. I would prefer it does NOT turn out dry with 17% abv ... lol
 
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LTBrewer

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It might not even ferment that thick of sugar. Up to 13% means under perfect conditions. If it keeps fermenting, it will probably take a few months to get there. Anything over 12-13% starts to hamper yeast function. I think a better method for what you were trying to accomplish would be to ferment dry, sorbate, and back sweeten a 2-3 tablespoons sugar per gallon. That would be sweet to me, but much less sweeter than what is marketed commercially as "mead". Some of what I have tried would be more accurately described as honey alcohol syrup . As far as the ancients, they would have cultured a proper wine yeast as that's what they did. Just like beer. I don't have any experience with using bread yeast for alcohol fermentation other than one experiment I did with cider over 30 years ago. I think it only fermented to about 5% and stopped. That was before the internet and about 95% of the books that are out there now. If bread yeast ferments, the next problem is will it floc, which is another reason actual beer and wine yeast strains have been selected. Plenty of people have made this orange wine though, and if it ferments somewhat reliably and falls out with whatever strain/brand they are using, it sounds like a cheap way to go. One of my neighbors gave me a bottle of his prized "mead". Tasted like oaked horridness. I've read that straight mead takes a long time to mellow out. The higher the alcohol, the longer it will take. I gave him back a bottle of 3 yr old plum apple wine that actually tastes like fruit and doesn't take the enamel off your teeth.
 

Miraculix

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I've had bread yeast take a JAOM to 15%. Start 1.127 finish 1.012.
I now realise, that I have not taken og readings. It is bubbling away now since weeks, so I guess I'm going to have something with at least 15% abv at the end as well.
 

Dan O

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I have a question that I hope someone will be able to answer. I started a 1 gallon batch of JAOM a week ago. The recipe says don't touch, don't degas, don't add nutrients. Is there any real concern about the oranges not staying wet? I have always read that if you have fruit in primary, then you should give it a little swirl once a day just to keep the fruit wet. Is this still the case or am I really just supposed to leave it be & hope it doesn't mold? Thank you in advance, for anyone willing to take the time to reply.
 

Miraculix

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I have a question that I hope someone will be able to answer. I started a 1 gallon batch of JAOM a week ago. The recipe says don't touch, don't degas, don't add nutrients. Is there any real concern about the oranges not staying wet? I have always read that if you have fruit in primary, then you should give it a little swirl once a day just to keep the fruit wet. Is this still the case or am I really just supposed to leave it be & hope it doesn't mold? Thank you in advance, for anyone willing to take the time to reply.
You should have it in an air tight carboy and there shouldn't be any oxygen and without any oxygen there won't be any mold.
 

Dan O

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It is in a carboy with an airlock. I currently have 15 gallons under my belt, (& probably around my belly:rolleyes::bigmug:??)but, this is my first time making a JAOM & wanted to be sure I wouldn't be throwing it away because of not keeping the fruit wet. Thank you.
 

Miraculix

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Aaand it is bubbling! I used the well known German yeast brand "ja!". It is the cheapest one can buy :) Otherwise, 100% true to the original recipe.
Brought it from the attic to the living room, from 14-16 degrees c to 21c. The yeast fell dormant and it started to clear in the cool attic but now it started to go on again, also all cloudy again. Interesting brew, now bubbling for over a month. I'm curious when it will finish. It smells surprisingly fruity out of the airlock.
 

Miraculix

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Brought it from the attic to the living room, from 14-16 degrees c to 21c. The yeast fell dormant and it started to clear in the cool attic but now it started to go on again, also all cloudy again. Interesting brew, now bubbling for over a month. I'm curious when it will finish. It smells surprisingly fruity out of the airlock.
I think it's bottling time soon!
 

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Maylar

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That's what my first one looked like at 30 days (my avitar). One that I have going now seems to have stopped fermenting. It's been sitting at about 67 degrees so I added a heating pad to bring it up to 77. Let's hope that works, else I'll be reaching for some 71B.
 

ArizonaGoalie

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I want to make this, but I need some help. When the recipe says "dissolve honey in some warm water" how much water?
 

Dan O

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1/2 gallon should be enough. Shake the bejesus out of it, then shake it some more. When you think your done, shake it for another 2 minutes.??, then add the rest of your ingredients, water to 1 gallon, then your yeast. Just make sure your must temperature is low enough BEFORE you add your yeast so you don't kill the yeast when you add them.
 

ArizonaGoalie

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1/2 gallon should be enough. Shake the bejesus out of it, then shake it some more. When you think your done, shake it for another 2 minutes.??, then add the rest of your ingredients, water to 1 gallon, then your yeast. Just make sure your must temperature is low enough BEFORE you add your yeast so you don't kill the yeast when you add them.
Thank you sir. Made this last night. It's rolling along today.

Another question for those who have made this. When it's all done, is it possible to get all the oranges out of a 1 gallon jug to reuse it, or have you sacrificed a fermenter to the mead gods?
 

Dan O

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Thank you sir. Made this last night. It's rolling along today.

Another question for those who have made this. When it's all done, is it possible to get all the oranges out of a 1 gallon jug to reuse it, or have you sacrificed a fermenter to the mead gods?
It's totally possible to get the oranges out, but, you'll have to work for it. Just hard enough to work up a thirst....hmmm.
Maybe for some mead?:mischievous:??
 

Miraculix

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Bottled it today, bit must have done something wrong..... as it is already really drinkable! Having a glass right now. I bet it will be better in one or two years, but it is not rucket fuelly at all. A little bit alcohol hotness, but not much.

I guess the fact that fermentation temperature were low for the first 6 weeks, around 14-15°C, helped a lot. It was a slow ferment, but the result is promising. Tastes a little bit like orange juice and root beer. The flavours will meld a bit I hope....

It is quite sweet though.... fg is about 1.016... a bit high for my liking.

Who else tried the oranges!? They are not as bad as one might guess :D

.....but they are veeeery alcoholic!
 

BadKarma

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I've made this many times over the years. I try anew recipe and keep coming back to this one. It's like Lays Potato Chips, can't have just one!!!
 

Miraculix

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Anybody figured out which ingredient creates this Dr pepper taste? I don't like Dr pepper....
 

JTOVERMOHLE

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Hello all.....opened up my 3 month old JAOM to transfer it off the yeast cake for the 4th time....smells bready?? i assume it is from the yeast, and my questions is...when all the yeast has settled and I am able to let it sit, will the bready smell clear out? Haven't sampled it yet, maybe it is just the smell, but it is a little off putting....stuck to the OG recipe using bread yeast. Any insight? Thanks
 

Miraculix

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Hello all.....opened up my 3 month old JAOM to transfer it off the yeast cake for the 4th time....smells bready?? i assume it is from the yeast, and my questions is...when all the yeast has settled and I am able to let it sit, will the bready smell clear out? Haven't sampled it yet, maybe it is just the smell, but it is a little off putting....stuck to the OG recipe using bread yeast. Any insight? Thanks
Which part of "no racking" didn't you get when you read the instructions? :p
 

JTOVERMOHLE

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Which part of "no racking" didn't you get when you read the instructions? :p
Touche' ---- i went against that when i started making other mead recipes and they all say to re-rack when there is 1/4 to 1/2 inch of trub in the bottom....i guess my old mind slipped me when i saw all the trub in the bottom of my JAOM. But besides my re-racking, with the bready-ness go away ever??
 

Miraculix

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Touche' ---- i went against that when i started making other mead recipes and they all say to re-rack when there is 1/4 to 1/2 inch of trub in the bottom....i guess my old mind slipped me when i saw all the trub in the bottom of my JAOM. But besides my re-racking, with the bready-ness go away ever??
This pops up again and again unfortunately... Never ever rack of the yeast unless you are bulk aging the mead!

By racking of you introduce oxygen and you remove viable yeast and therefore put more stress onto the remaining yeast.

I know a lot of recipes ask for it but this is a relict from times when dry yeast was half dead when used and autolysis kicked in almost immediately. This is not the case anymore.

Don't rack your mead unless bulk aging!
 

JTOVERMOHLE

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This pops up again and again unfortunately... Never ever rack of the yeast unless you are bulk aging the mead!

By racking of you introduce oxygen and you remove viable yeast and therefore put more stress onto the remaining yeast.

I know a lot of recipes ask for it but this is a relict from times when dry yeast was half dead when used and autolysis kicked in almost immediately. This is not the case anymore.

Don't rack your mead unless bulk aging!
Noted. Thanks for the education. I have a cranberry mead that i started before xmas and plan on letting it age for a year. Re-racked it once since then. It is clear and smells delicious and still has yeast/trub in the bottom. I believe i used a champagne yeast for that one. Would it be wise to bottle that one and let it age, or just let it be....and if the latter, how soon before i plan on consuming should i move it to the bottles??

Live and learn i guess. Cheers
 

Miraculix

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Noted. Thanks for the education. I have a cranberry mead that i started before xmas and plan on letting it age for a year. Re-racked it once since then. It is clear and smells delicious and still has yeast/trub in the bottom. I believe i used a champagne yeast for that one. Would it be wise to bottle that one and let it age, or just let it be....and if the latter, how soon before i plan on consuming should i move it to the bottles??

Live and learn i guess. Cheers
If it is completely clear and done fermenting, it can be bottled and aged in the bottle. I see no positive effect in bulk aging it in this case but you will skip at least one racking, so imo just bottle it if its done and clear.
 

JTOVERMOHLE

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If it is completely clear and done fermenting, it can be bottled and aged in the bottle. I see no positive effect in bulk aging it in this case but you will skip at least one racking, so imo just bottle it if its done and clear.
Perfect. I have a beer ready to be bottled this week, I'll make a day out of it. Beneficial to just leave my JAOM in the gallon jug and bulk age for another few months or have i already ruined it and should start on a new batch?
 

Miraculix

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Perfect. I have a beer ready to be bottled this week, I'll make a day out of it. Beneficial to just leave my JAOM in the gallon jug and bulk age for another few months or have i already ruined it and should start on a new batch?
I would just wait till it's perfectly clear and then bottle it.
 

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Quick question: I've made JAOM many times, and always used the same equipment: a 5L carboy and 1.5kg of honey, 1 orange, a handful of raisins, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 clove. I want to make a larger batch now (15L) so my question is shall I scale everything up in a linear fashion? Main concern is the clove, I've had batches where the clove is very pronounced, almost burning, even when using one. I'm considering using 2 cloves and 2 cinnamon sticks in 15L, and 2 oranges as some batches came out with pithy bitterness that I wasn't too happy about.

These issues with my batches may be explained by the below:
I figured just today that the actual recipe will likely end up sweeter than what I had, given the difference between US and UK "gallons", so a UK gallon (4.54L) would have less sugar to work with than a US one (3.78L), and the 5L that I've been using had even less still. I never had a hygrometer until now.
However always ended up with a slightly sweet mead that I've been happy with. I figured different people mean different things when they say "sweet". I like sweet drinks so what I'd consider "semi-sweet" is likely considered sweet by those preferring their drinks dry so I didn't give it more thought!

Comparatively, I've been using the same amount of honey when making Bochet, and it always ended up much sweeter than the JAOM, again putting all my biochemistry training aside, I thought the caramelised honey is just less fermentable, I've always made Bochet by adding a sliced pear in the primary, don't know if this contributes much in terms of nutrients but again, I ended up with a drink I was always very happy about so didn't give it further thought. @bernardsmith any thoughts?
 

bernardsmith

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Always a contrarian but the fact is that however "popular" a JAOM might be it is. really, a novelty mead. It's a novelty mead because how ever often you make it you can not use your experience with JAOM to improve your traditional meads, your melomels or your metheglins etc. It's a mead that if you follow the recipe it makes itself, and it makes itself despite the fact that the processes involved are quite counter-intuitive (unless you really understand mead making - and the creator of JAOM did). That said, if you choose not to follow the recipe, it ain't a JAOM. And that is OK.
Me? I don't make novelty meads so I would argue that the use of orange zest rather than peel with pith is a no-brainer. Pith is bitter and zest contains all the flavor-rich volatile oils you want from the orange. With JAOM, since no hydrometer is being used and no degassing is involved the inability of the remaining CO2 to keep the pieces of orange in suspension tells you that you can bottle. But if the amount of honey used in the recipe is meant to finish this mead very sweet you may want some bittering to counter what might be a cloyingly sweet wine. If you wanted to avoid using the pith you might - might - want to consider using less honey for fermenting, and after some aging you might want to stabilize and then back sweeten to taste without any need for additional bitterness.

Cloves? For me even a single clove tends to dominate anything. Cloves are wonderful in pomanders... but in a mead or wine? I don't know. I guess if you like them, then no problem. If you don't, there is no law that says that you must use them.

Bottom line - and this is simply my thought: if you want to make an orange flavored mead, and you have gotten your toes wet with JAOM, why not get some orange blossom honey (about 2.5 lbs to make each gallon) and zest some oranges - say a half dozen per gallon. Add some nutrients - Fermaid O or K (or even some boiled bread yeast if you cannot get hold of lab made nutrients). And I would pitch some wine yeast - 71B or D47. You might even use some beer yeast, perhaps US 05. No need for raisins, BUT if you want some additional grape like flavor you might use grape juice in place of some or all the water (BUT be sure that there is no sorbate preservative added to the grape juice. That completely inhibits fermentation).

When the gravity falls to around 1.010 - 1.005 I would rack (siphon) to a carboy with airlock and bung. Taste the mead and if you want more orange flavor I would zest some more oranges and add the zest to the mead so that now you are using alcohol to extract the flavors. You might taste how this is going every week and decide when to rack the mead off this zest (could be two weeks) and then let the mead age two or three months and when clear, bottle.
 

Maylar

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Me? I don't make novelty meads so I would argue that the use of orange zest rather than peel with pith is a no-brainer. Pith is bitter and zest contains all the flavor-rich volatile oils you want from the orange. With JAOM, since no hydrometer is being used and no degassing is involved the inability of the remaining CO2 to keep the pieces of orange in suspension tells you that you can bottle. But if the amount of honey used in the recipe is meant to finish this mead very sweet you may want some bittering to counter what might be a cloyingly sweet wine.
Yes, the bitterness of the pith balances the sweetness. The JAOM ends up being a desert mead, typically around 1.020 FG. Anything less than 1.010 is too bitter to drink. It also changes drastically over time. Out of the fermentor it's all orange and clove. After 2 months the clove starts to fade and the mead is drinkable. At 8 months the flavors meld and the mead has a wonderful orange perfume. You should try one.
 

Dan O

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Anyone ever added a vanilla bean to this to make a creamcicle mead?
I don't know if anyone has, but, I have a JAOM bulk aging right now that is getting a vanilla bean & when my blood orange JAOM hybrid gets racked & split up into smaller batches, one of those will be getting a bean as well.
 

bernardsmith

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At 8 months the flavors meld and the mead has a wonderful orange perfume. You should try one.
I dunno, I make an orange t'ej with zest and gesho (and orange blossom honey) that is very drinkable in a couple of months. Not sure that I need to make a JAOM to enjoy an orange flavored honey wine. :mug:
 

Maylar

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I dunno, I make an orange t'ej with zest and gesho (and orange blossom honey) that is very drinkable in a couple of months. Not sure that I need to make a JAOM to enjoy an orange flavored honey wine. :mug:
Yeah but like you said it's a novelty mead. Its appeal is that you mix everything together and set it aside for 2-3 months, no muss no fuss. This year I've been under life stress (like many in the pandemic) and haven't had the time or ambition to persue my normal fermenting passion. So a 1-1/2 gallon wide mouth fermentor, a few pounds of local wildflower and a packet of Fleichmann's on the dining table and wa-la I have mead. Can't be beat for simplicity and (IMO) it's actually quite good.
 
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