Mead and red currant

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I had a rough day of tripping and bleeding yesterday, so I was pretty grumpy when I got home.  I complained to Jo during the dog walk that I really needed to harvest the red currants because the birds were going to eat them all and then we wouldn’t have enough for anything useful.  So he gamely went out and started picking as soon as we got home.  I made dinner and then started to feel guilty, so I went out and joined him.  It turns out to be quite a pleasant summertime activity, and I needn’t have worried about the birds eating it all.  We easily gathered 2 pounds, 9.4 ounces.  My currant bush is several years old now, and this is its best year ever, fruit-wise.  We should have plenty more for raspberry-currant jam, and for pie, and still plenty left on for the birdies.

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My recipe (C.J.J. Berry) calls for 2 1/4 oz., so I took out 5 oz. and put both bags in the freezer.  I’m excited to try freezing to help break the fruit down.  It should mean less mashing, though of course the mashing of the currants won’t be terribly hard.

The other reason I froze the currants is that I also started some mead, so my primary fermentation bucket was already in use.  This is a recipe for dry mead from True Brews by Christensen.  It uses less honey than sweet meads, so most of it should ferment.  I looked at a few different recipes, but opted for this one because she specifically says that she doesn’t like sweet drinks (neither do I), and because it calls for Champagne yeast, which I have.  The others call for ale yeast or mead yeast, which would mean I’d have to go buy some, and then what the heck would I do with all the Champagne yeast I already bought? (I think I got 10 packets because I thought I’d be needing to make a lot of sodas for Kirsten, who was having some nasty acid reflux, but she’s on new meds now, and back to her evil ways.  Which is considerably more fun for the rest of us, too.)

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 I simmered the water (12 cups, I think) and then stirred in 3 1/2 cups of honey.  The recipe says to let it come to room temperature and the add the Campden, but by 9:30 it was still pretty warm, and I just wanted to go to bed, so I covered the bucket and added the airlock and left it until this morning.  So the Campden went in at around 6 a.m., after I fed the dogs.  It smells very strongly of honey, and part of me has trouble believing it’s actually going to ferment to dryness.  (This, again, would be a good argument for the Champagne yeast, which is better in high-alcohol environments, so it will keep fermenting beyond what the others would do, and I definitely want it eating up all that sugar!)  So this needs to hang out for the customary 24 hours and then I’ll pitch the yeast.  By next month, I should have six 1-gallon demijohns fermenting away.  (That’s 5 of my own and whatever we make in the country wine class.)

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