Cacao Mead 2.0

Last winter, before berries were in season, I made my first cacao mead. I chronicled the technique/recipe on facebook. It was one of my favorites, particularly out of the early batches I did. I particularly enjoyed using the cacao plonk as a marinade for pork tenderloin…. serious yum.

I thought the entire batch was gone as of about May of 2010. Yet, in the fall, a friend of mine surprised me with a bottle I had given him back when they were still available. It had aged incredibly well! It was the first vivid example to me of how profoundly aging can affect mead.

So of course, I wanted to do another one. Now that the summer and autumn berries are past, I figured it was time to explore cacao. It’s not like there isn’t a ton of it around the house… :-D

Those of you from the health community will probably know about cacao being championed as one of the greatest “superfoods” available to humans. David Wolfe, among others, has championed its use. It is distinguishable from cocoa in that it is in its purer, raw, more nutrient-dense state, containing antioxidants, flavanols, psychoactive compounds, and a long list of other components and factors. In addition to making it taste yummy, I want to extract as much of this usable nutrition into the mead as possible.

I began with the customary 2-gallon chaga decoction, with a one-drupe sumac infusion after I turned off the heat. I strained it and added about about 3/4 gallon of honey, adding honey a bit at a time until the hydrometer gave an alcohol potential reading of 16.5%. This should produce a bit drier of a mead, which is in tune with my current aesthetic.

I added a secret mixture of cacao, vanilla, and maca, and it just looks gorgeous:

I always said to be careful pouring into the carboy funnel, this is the first-ever spill I’ve had at that stage. Luckily not too bad, it cleaned up pretty good:

In the end, a gorgeous brown color put down. Can’t wait to revisit this around Beltane or Midsummer.

UPDATE (7 May 2011): This is definitely ready to rack, but I have to clear some space first (a bit of bottling to free up one of the jugs). The current alcohol potential is 1%, so this is 15.5% alcohol. It’s strong and dry, but not overbearingly so. Very nice!

Here is the label for this batch:

Fermenting Hard Cider

My good friend Daniel Vitalis just released a new video on fermenting hard cider that I wanted to share with you. Cider is something that I’ve only recently begun to appreciate, and I definitely think a batch or two is in order before the end of the year and the local apples are done.

Cider fermentation is very easy, and is done with only wild yeast. You simply leave your cider in a wide-mouthed container until it starts to froth from wild yeast in the air, then transfer it to a carboy with an airlock and let it go for a few weeks. Doesn’t get much simpler!

Here’s part one of the video:

And here’s part two: