So back to our regularly scheduled postings on food and drink. I have a few more Roman recipes, then another Middle Eastern or 20…ok a mix-up or so of more period cooking! /wink. Today’s posting is another nice drink! I really really like this drink. It’s cool refreshing and non alcoholic for the first week in my kitchen…after 2-3 weeks the wild yeast floating in the air develops this into a nice lively and very bright sweet mead. So either fresh or alcoholic, Hydromel is very yummy!
Hydromel: Rain water and honey boiled down to one third. (Apicius pp. 288)
“Some people make a superior version by preparing the honey water in the following way: The finest ripe apples are chopped up and have their juice extracted; 4 pints of juice and 8 pints of the finest honey, mixed with 12 pints of rain water, and after being warmed in the sun, a fire is used to simmer gently. People use a double copper pan so that is boiled over water rather then directly over the fire as in Beroia.” <Bassus Country Matter> (Grant pp. 82)
Another suggestion for the making of Hydromel was to use only water and honey. “One part honey to 2 parts water.” < Pliny, Naturalis historia 14, 113> If it was served as soon as it was made it was called aqua mulsa subita; if aged it as called aqua mulsa inverterata “took on the flavor of wine.” <Pliny>
Herklotz pp. 197
1 cup of apple juice 2 cups of honey 3 cups of water
Mix all the ingredients,
together in a pot. Here I have organic apple juice, why it’s so cloudy and a very sweet clover honey. Any apple juice will work but period wise they didn’t filter their apple juice to the see through clarity we have today. So don’t worry if there is a bit of opaqueness to the juice if you’re going to use organic. It’ll taste wonderful!
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
I like to refrigerate before serving. This is not required. The Romans did have access to ice but at ruinous expense that only the very wealthy could afford, i.e. Emperor Nero rich. The refrigerating process will delay any fermentation though not eradicate your chances of ending up with some thing alcoholic over time.
I did not collect rain water but used regular tap water. I also bought the apple juice and honey. I do not have a juicer on hand to actually crush the apples and strain for juice though it sounds both fun and messy.
I do find that this drink is a little sweet. It might be better to cut the apple juice and honey mixture with more water to the brewers taste. The fermented version of this produces a light and very bubbly desert wine. I found this out by opening a bottle of hydromel 2 weeks later from the refrigerator and finding a very sweet and crisp bubbling light wine.