Last bits of summer: plum honey wine.

plumhoneywine.jpgI made a lovely drink on the spur of the moment the other day when it was really hot out.

I took an overripe plum and squished it up in the bottom of a wine glass, then added some of our homemade honey wine and a few crushed mint leaves. It tasted like summer.

Honey wine is incredibly easy to make. Just mix 1 part honey with 3 parts water and let it sit out in a crock for a few days, stirring often. (A towel over the top keeps the critters out.) After it starts to bubble and foam, put it in a jug with an airlock and wait.

You can start tasting it after a month or so. For the first few months, it will still be quite sweet — in the style of T’ej, Ethiopian honey wine. (Honey’s complex sugars take a long time to ferment.) After six months or a year, it will be much dryer, more like a northern European mead.

I like to taste ours as often as possible — the flavors change almost every day. This last batch tasted like everything from apples to chocolate over the course of its fermentation.

(As always, if you’ve never made wine or beer before, it’s good to read up. I suggest Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz.)


  1. Kiva Rose said,

    September 19, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

    mmmm, honey wines are my favorite…. yummy when made with rose infused honey too, as it avoids the overt astringence that can otherwise occur when when making rose wine or mead.

  2. hank said,

    September 22, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

    Oh Gawd, T’ej!!!! I was a cook in an Ethiopian restaurant 16 years ago and we routinely got so hammered on that stuff I’d miss the morning distance run I was always supposed to be on. Oh, the agony!

    I did make a pretty nice dry honey wine a few years back, however. A tip: Go to a brewer’s shop and buy Champagne yeast and yeast nutrient — honey is notoriously low in yeast food, so left by itself it won’t always ferment out dry…

  3. crabappleherbs said,

    September 22, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

    Kiva: Rose-infused honey wine sounds amazing. Next year…

    Hank: Yeah, honey can be a finicky fermenter. This batch we’ve had on for a year or so has fermented nicely dry, but it’s true that doesn’t always happen. The boy has plans for all sorts of experimenting with Champagne yeast, etc. This fall, we’re going to try a batch with Tulip Poplar honey — it’s black, almost like dark molasses.

  4. Kiva Rose said,

    September 23, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

    I always just inoculate mine with a shot of my last batch of mead, never had a bad batch yet. I have yet to use anything but wild yeast, but one of these days I’ll try some of the boughten stuff I think.

    Tulip Poplar honey sounds divine.

    Ever made Tepache? It’s a traditional fermented pineapple drink that Huichole guy taught Loba and I to make. Pineapple rind and flesh covered with water with some added brown sugar (or honey), cinnamon and other spices. You’re only supposed to let if ferment three days but I’ve definitely let it go longer. Traditionally served with cold beer.

    I love home fermentation. I started a Peach skin honey wine thing today, some with cardamom and some without. Yum.

  5. The Herbwife's Boyfriend said,

    September 24, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

    The thing that appeals to me about playing with the boughten is that one can choose a yeast for its flavor neutrality, thus giving a potentially cleaner expression to the delicacy of the ingredients. Generally, though, I am a wild yeast man.

  6. Kiva Rose said,

    September 28, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

    Good point, Herbwife’s Boyfriend… I’ll have to ponder that.

  7. SacredAngel said,

    December 19, 2008 @ 9:05 am

    So yeast was used in the honeywine described in this post?

    I have to say reading this has totally inspired me. I really want to try this.

  8. crabappleherbs said,

    January 30, 2009 @ 10:06 pm

    No commercial yeast — just wild yeast from the air. I’m glad you’re inspired! Let us know what you try…

  9. inna said,

    May 27, 2009 @ 8:49 pm

    Hello! Do you happen to twitter by any chance? I would love to receive your updates! =0)

  10. inna said,

    May 27, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

    Do you happen to twitter by any chance?
    I would love to receive your updates! =0)

  11. Michelle Goodman said,

    October 28, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

    I tried my first honey mead at a Rennaissance Faire this summer and it was delicious! It actually was Strawberry-Cranberry honey mead. The lady was third generation maker. It was devine!!! I am definitly going to try this on my own…it will be quite the adventure:)

  12. swissmiss said,

    March 20, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

    This looks wonderful. I was wondering what kind of honey you use? Is it raw/processed, commercially bought or your own batch? Do you have suggestions on what kind of honey to use for best result?

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