Ok, so a while ago, I bought a 3lb bucket of Orange Blossom honey and a 3lb bucket of Spanish Lavender honey. The idea being just to make 2 batches of "varietal" mead - traditional mead but with honey of a specific provenance.
Anyway, I've been dragging my arse a bit with this, partly because I was busy doing other stuff, partly because I couldn't get my finger out, etc etc.
I have been doing other stuff, you only need to read this blog between my showing the picture of the buckets....did I post a picture ? damn I can't remember. Anyway, it's too late now.
Earlier today, I got one of my 25 litre PET cans and used bleach to sanitise it, then rinsed the hell out of it to make sure all traces of bleach had been removed. I then went to the local aquarium supplies place and got it filled with "reverse osmosis water" a.k.a. RO water.
Now I won't bore you with technical shit, but here's a nice wikipedia link that explains about drinking water purification using reverse osmosis.
To put it more clearly, the idea is to use water that's had as much taken out of it as is feasible. Yes I could have easily made enough distilled water, but it takes a good few hours for the water distiller to do enough water for 2 gallons of mead.
So, this evening, I've used "Ritchies Cleaner/Steriliser" to sanitise 2 x 1 gallon demi-johns. While the cleaning solution was doing it's thing, I left the 2 buckets of honey in hot water just to make sure that any possible crystalisation was melted down. Plus I put 1 litre of the RO water in a saucepan to heat up, so I could swill the buckets out.
I've marked the DJ's so I know which one is which, the honey has been added and the buckets swilled out into the DJ's and while the "swill water" is still warm I've stoppered the DJ's and shaken the hell out of them to mix the honey with the water - they've then been topped up to 4 litres.
Now I was in a bit of a quandary the other day, because there's the debate about whether you add acid to the recipe before fermentation or afterwards. I could really "kick the arse out of it" and test for "titrateable acid" levels in the must before I actually start the ferment, but I think I'm just gonna test the pH of the must tomorrow, and then add some acid, so that it's somewhere in the region of 3.5 pH (yeast likes an acid environment to do it's thing). It will be the 2 parts malic to 1 part tartaric, that is suggested by "Acton and Duncan" in the now out of print book, Making Mead.
I haven't decided what yeast to use yet, but I'm thinking of using Lalvin's 71B as that came out best in a previous test that I did with yeasts.
Obviously, I'll test the starting gravity of the must. I know that the great and good at the excellent "Winesathome" forums would be a little critical, because they usually suggest that ferments should be started at about 1080 to 1090 because that should, in theory, allow the yeast to "do it's thing" without getting stressed etc.
Now 71B "poops out" at about 14% ABV - by that, I mean that that is it's alcohol tolerance. A gravity of 1080 would give me 14.67% ABV (according to the WAH alcohol calculation chart), and 1090 would give 14.81% ABV. I'm not particularly worried about accuracy to much, as long as it's about 14% ABV. It's my intention to back sweeten it i.e. add more sweetness so that both batches come out as medium sweet meads. I haven't thought too far ahead though, because I've got to wait until the ferment is complete before I start really worrying about that sort of stuff.
For the actual ferment, I'm thinking that I'll reactivate the yeast with a little of the must and some Go-Ferm yeast activation nutrient. Then once it's been going for a couple of days (I might have time to check for either the 1/3 or 1/2 sugar break - that's when either 1/3 or 1/2 the sugar has been fermented), add some Fermaid-K yeast nutrient. Though I also have Tronozymol yeast nutrient. If I used the Tronozymol, then the dosage would go into the must before the ferment is started and the yeast would be rehydrated with just water (like it says on the packet). I haven't made my mind up yet.........
p.s. Oh and if you give a fuck, there is a picture of the 2 little buckets of honey on the post dated Saturday 6th September 2008......