Oldest Known Mead Recipe
An Ancient Mead Recipe From 60 BCE
In my article about The History of Alcohol I proposed that mead is probably the first alcoholic beverage known to man, and I do believe this whole heartedly. One must then assume that there are mead recipes from history scattered about, but in reality there aren't many from antiquity, and none known prior to 60BC.
Now there are both beer and wine recipes from Egypt going back much much further than this, but this doesn't mean that those drinks are older than mead. There is some evidence that Egyptians drank mead as well as wine and beer, but there is even stronger and older evidence that mead existed much much earlier than any earlier references to either beer or wine. Written recipes are not our only link to the history of food and drink, there are many things that we have no evidence of that we know ancient man consumed. For instance I know of no written recipe for Wooly Mammoth steaks.
Never, ever try to reproduce this recipe using the methods described. Wild fermentation is never advisable, if you are lucky you will simply get very very ill, if not death or fates worth than death could await those foolish enough to drink a beverage fermented in the open air.
Of the Roman Empire
Columella was a Roman living around 60BCE (Before Common Era), during his life he wrote a book entitled De Re Rustica, well to be exact he wrote twelve volumes of this title, the books were advice to another Roman named Publius Silvinus. The advice ranged all over the map of Columella's vast stores of knowledge and experience. One of these volumes contained information on viniculture (the production of wine).
In Columella's advice on viniculture there is a brief paragraph which can be said is the oldest known extant mead recipe.Take rainwater kept for several years, and mix a sextarius of this water with a pound of honey. For a weaker mead, mix a sextarius of water with nine ounces of honey. The whole is exposed to the sun for 40 days, and then left on a shelf near the fire. If you have no rainwater, then boil spring water.
What is Mead?
1) Honey Wine.
- Ken Schramm @CompleatMeadmkr
What the heck is this mead stuff anyway? - Some links to more information about mead
Mead is a wine that is made with honey and water instead of fruit juice. Want to know more about the wonderful beverage of mead, read some links and find out all the joys of mead, Wassail and enjoy your journey.
- The Mead Hall
Your one stop shopping site for all things mead, contains articles recipes reviews and much more, its all about mead.
- What is Mead
What is Mead? Very few alcoholic beverages have captured imaginations quite like mead has. If you've ever read historical fiction or fantasy novels then you've probably heard of mead, but what is mead exactly? The Vikings called mead the drink of the
- Mead and The History of Alcohol
Man has been making Alcohol since before recorded history. Know one know when alcohol was first discovered, or how long man has been drinking alcohol, but there is reason to believe mead, or honey wine, could have been the first alcoholic beverage to
Why is this recipe so darned dangerous?
Need more info about the risks, well I aim to please folks
I've been asked, why didn't the romans die drinking this if its so darned dangerous. Well this is a complex question really, but let me expand upon the threatening warning that I wrote above.
Reason #1 Some did die from drinking these wild fermented beverages
Reason #2 The areas predominate wild yeast is exactly the kind of yeast that is needed to produce good alcoholic beverages, or at least relatively palatable ones. It may not be able to compete with the laboratory grown yeasts we now use, but they worked. In many parts of the world however most of the wild airborne yeasts are not the proper yeasts you want and may produce the wrong kind of alcohol. There are many types of alcohol and humans can only barely handle one, all others are extremely dangerous.
Believe it or not the stagnate rainwater is the safest component of this recipe (other than the honey), while the rainwater would have gathered some rather nasty bugs sitting still for a long time those bugs will not survive the alcohol produced by the fermentation process and in fact in the end, despite there being some risk that some of the wild yeast that grows in the mead might be the kind that produces alcohol that might kill a man, the fact remained it was still safer to drink this mead on average than it was to drink most of the water available, you were statistically less likely to get seriously ill.
But What About Lambic, Isn't That Safe?
Lambic Brewing is wild fermentation done in Belgium, and yes it uses wild yeasts, and yes it is open air fermented. There are safe ways to do it, if you insist on experimenting make sure you know what you are doing first. I still maintain that using wild fermentation in North America where the yeasts are so vastly different then Eurpoean yeasts is dangerous at best. It is possible to cultivate wild yeast that does work well for brewing, but always make sure you use the strictest safety procedures to ensure quality yeast production.
© 2012 Jeff Johnston