Spring Wildflower Mead
This recipe is featured in Make Wild-Foraged Mead Like a Viking
Spring is one of my favorite times to make mead. Since I use all-natural, mostly local ingredients that I have grown or wild-foraged myself, the myriad edibles that pop up in my yard and wildlands are just begging to be made into mead. On top of that, I can usually find light, floral honeys from local beekeepers. Honey made from wildflowers, clover, or trees such as basswood or sourwood are ideal for a light flower mead.
You will need about .47-1.4 liters (1-3 pints) of tightly packed flowers for a 3.8 liter (1-gallon) batch. The more flowers, the better. Pick on a dry, sunny day when you have plenty of time. I generally pick wild violets, dandelions, honeysuckle and clover for a spring mead. I add Rose of Sharon as well when picking later in the spring and summer. Take care to use only the petals. Any greens will cause bitterness. If taking a couple of days to pick, keep the petals in a brown paper bag until you have enough. You can also freeze them until you’re ready. For a mead made with fully dried flowers, use about 14 grams (1/2 ounce) of dried petals per 475 ml (pint) of fresh. Wash freshly picked flowers gently in a colander and allow to dry. (You can steep the flowers in hot [not boiling] water beforehand and allow to cool, to draw out more flavor by using flower tea in place of fresh water, but this isn’t absolutely necessary.)
When you have enough, follow the technique I’ve outlined in the accompanying article for making wild-fermented mead, adding some flowers at the outset and a few more after a month in the jug for a stronger floral aroma. Flowers tend to produce quick, strong wild ferments. Be sure to squeeze in some lemon or orange juice for acid, and to add 8-10 organic raisins and a small oak leaf for nutrients and tannin.
Never forage from roadsides or areas where pesticides may have been sprayed and take note that not all flowers are edible. Other flowers that are excellent for mead include elderflowers, marigold, roses, hawthorn (mayflower), and lavender. Having a glass of flower mead made with spring wildflower honey in the depth of winter is a great way to remind yourself that spring is just around the corner.