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Spiced Hawthorn and Rose Hip Mead for a Joyful Heart

devon 8 Comments

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Spiced Hawthorn and Rose Hip Mead for a Joyful Heart

Devon 8 Comments

A beverage for a joyful heart! Spiced hawthorn and rose hip mead marries herbal medicine with fermented libation. A jolly cheers to you and yours!

Fall has most certainly arrived.  Heavy Pacific Northwest winds and rains have rendered most of the deciduous trees naked and skeletal for a couple weeks now.  It is a welcome sight to look beyond the barn, into the pastures, and see the familiar red glow of the hawthorn berries and rose hips on the otherwise bare limbs and canes.  A couple scarlet reminders that the foraging seasons is not quite over yet.  As the march to the holiday season hastens its pace, I am thinking about ways to honor this great abundance with which I am blessed.  Spiced hawthorn and rose hip mead will a joyful heart make, I think.

Truth is, in another lifetime I “should” have been a winemaker.  I went to school and studied enology – even excelled in both the academic and practical applications of the program. I should have been great – I had the skill, instinct, and a good “nose”.  But, a troubling lack of confidence sent me in the direction of hospitality and marketing.  Seven years in the wine industry left me feeling pretty unfulfilled, but the winemaking bug never really left me.

freshly harvested hawthorn berries

I am going to admit that I am pretty late to the home-mead making trend.  Coming from a background of stainless steel tanks, must pumps, forklifts, and labs – I was intimidated by the thought of reducing fermentation to a scale which I could handle in my home with minimal investment.  This last summer I started playing with wildflowers and foraged berries and made my first flavored meads with really great results.  Creating this spiced hawthorn and rose hip mead with two of my favorite foraged medicinal seemed quite in order.

Hawthorn Medicinal Benefits

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp) is a thorny, often shrubby, tree that bears sweet-smelling flowers in the spring and red berries in the fall.  While both the leaves and flowers also have medicinal value, the berries offer anthocyanins, bioflavonoids, vitamins, and minerals.  Hawthorn is a well-regarded cardiovascular tonic.  It is thought to strengthen and fortify the heart muscle and is often indicated for use with conditions such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and high cholesterol.  I look to hawthorn when people share with me complaints of stress with physical tension, heart palpitations, edginess, and anxiety.  A bit sweet and sour, the hawthorn berry is considered slightly warming energetically.  Hawthorn’s action in less “stimulating” than it is encouraging – like a gentle but persistent friend who always knows what you need.


FDA Disclosure

I am a trained herbalist with a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I am not, however, a doctor. Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.


Rose Hip Medicinal Benefits

Rose hips (Rosa spp) are the fleshy crimson fruit of the ever lovely rose.  One is more likely to find rose hips on wild varieties, due to pollination, but all roses are capable of producing hips.  Rose hips are almost translucent and jewel-like compared to the earthen autumnal hues this time of year.  Practically dripping with vitamin C, rose hips are often included in cold and flu care protocols.  Like hawthorn, rose hips are considered both sweet and sour, and slightly warming energetically.

Spiced Hawthorn and Rose Hip Mead

The concept of spiced hawthorn and rose hip mead was born from the desire to create a festive beverage that offered the added benefit of medicinal value.  Perhaps I am not alone in admitting that the holidays can be very stressful, so maybe adding a little heart protecting, the antioxidant action is just what the herbalist mead maker ordered.  The fact that these two fruits are available to forage at the same time seems to give my intuition evidence that these garnet hued beauties are meant to be together.  I decided that the flavors of cinnamon sticks and whole allspice berries would add to the merriment of this spiced hawthorn and rose hip mead without overpowering the honey and fruit notes.

Now, down to the nitty gritty!  You want to make mead like a winemaker, huh?  You are going to need a few things before making this spiced hawthorn and rose hip mead — besides the hawthorn berries and rose hips.

Choose a honey that you really enjoy –the aromatics and flavors really make a difference in the resulting mead.  I especially think that an orange blossom honey would do well here.  I advise performing the “cold soak” as detailed in the recipe below, to maximize the hawthorn and rose hip extraction.

Because this mead is fermented with intact whole berries, I like large mouth gallon size jars fitted wit h a lid/airlock combination like this.  As you will need to “punch down” the cap every day or so, these jars make the process easy and the post ferment clean-up a breeze.  To “punch down” the cap created by the berries and yeast, simply push through the cap with a sterile spoon, stirring slightly and ensuring that the cap is evenly moist.

As I like my wines and mead on the dry side, I chose this champagne yeast from Lalvin (EC-1118) because it has a higher alcohol tolerance and can take this mead to dryness.  Should you want a sweeter mead, I would suggest this yeast.

Both hawthorn and rose hips are extremely high in pectin, so you will DEFINITELY want to use this pectinase enzyme to break the fruit down, and assist in the clarification process.  Cuz, nobody likes a clumpy, thick murky mead.

After fermentation and settling, I like to rack into swing top bottles like these.  I use a simple tube to siphon, but that can be messy if you are not careful.  You might prefer an auto-siphon like this.  Remember to keep all your equipment clean and sterilized to ensure a healthy ferment.

I look forward to updating this post in two to three weeks as my spiced hawthorn and rose hip mead completes fermentation.  I am hoping to give a few bottles away as gifts and to stockpile a few for myself.  Or a lot for myself. Because, holidays..

Interested in learning more about hawthorn and 49 other common wild medicinal plants?  Check out my new book The Backyard Herbal Apothecary!

Homemade Mead Recipe with Spiced Hawthorn and Rose Hips

Spiced Hawthorn & Rose Hip Mead

A beverage for a joyful heart! Spiced hawthorn and rose hip mead marries herbal medicine with fermented libation.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh hawthorn berries cleaned and destemmed
  • 1 cup fresh rosehips cleaned OR ½ cup dried rose hips
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole all spice berries
  • 2 lbs honey
  • 6 cups un-chlorinated spring water (plus more for filling jar)
  • ½ packet yeast see notes in post about type

Instructions

  • Bring water to a simmer in a large stock pot. Remove from heat and add whole hawthorn berries, rose hips, cinnamon sticks and all spice. Cool completely, add 5 drops pectinase enzyme, then chill in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
  • Remove from refrigerator and gently heat on stove top until the liquid reaches about 90-100 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Meanwhile, re-hydrate yeast for 20 minutes in about ½ cup warm water (about 100 degrees) and a small pinch of sugar.
  • Carefully pour berries and liquid into fermentation jar. Add rehydrated yeast and stir well, adding more water to fill the jar to about 1" headspace, if necessary. Place lid fitted with airlock onto the jar. You should see bubbles forming and active fermentation within 2-24 hours.
  • Place fermentation jar in a warm spot and allow to ferment 2-3 weeks, or until all bubbling of the airlock has ceased, performing a daily "punch down". The berries cap may "fall" to the bottom of jar when fermentation is complete. To increase clarity, add five more drops of pectinase enzyme. Using a tube or auto siphon, rack mead off spent must and yeast lees into a fresh jar for additional settling.
  • Once satisfied with the clarity of the mead, rack mead into swing top bottles for serving and storage.

Spiced Hawthorn and Rose Hip Mea

 

Devon

Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, was published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of NittyGrittyLife.com can be seen at LearningHerbs.com, GrowForageCookFerment.com, AttainableSustainable.net, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, The Herbalist's Healing Kitchen, will be published Fall 2019.

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8 Comments

  • Danielle Osieck November 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    What a wonderful recipe! I just racked my mead into another carboy for clarity and got to sample a tiny bit. It’s divine! My question is: How long are we talking about in this last stage of racking? The recipe states “satisfied with the clarity of the mead” but I’m a total newbie and unsure how clear it can get.. also, will it get stronger in alcohol content the longer left at this stage before bottling?

    • Devon November 30, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Yay! I am so glad that you loved the wee sample at racking! The settling for clarity stage may take a few hours to a few days or more depending on factors such as if you used the pectinase enzyme, temperature, etc. I was able to get a pretty crystal clear mead (like “commercial” clear) by using the enzyme and settling after racking for a couple days. Your experience may differ, but it is really a matter of personal preference. I know folks that bottle up pretty cloudy mead and are still pretty happy with their results. As a former wine industry person and sometimes judge, I am bit fussier where clarity is concerned. As for alcohol content — once all the honey is fermented, you will not observe any appreciable increase is alcohol content. So if it is dry at racking, it won’t increase in any measurable way.

  • Alicia Horton September 26, 2018 at 12:42 am

    Question: my local home brew shop told me I *need* nutrients for my yeast because honey is so low in nutrients. Did you use any? Wondering if the berries provide some of that nutritional value for the yeast? (Fermaid k and diammonium phosphate). Any ideas? How did yours turn out?

    • Devon September 26, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      “Need” is a subjective term… I have never “needed” any yeast nutrients with my honey and fruit based ferments. This mead was DELICIOUS. A bit sharp right after ferment, but after a month or two in bottle it was DIVINE. Like, INCREDIBLY good.
      Seeing as I am thinking I know the local brew shop you may be speaking of — suffice to say that he and I do not see eye-to-eye on the necessity some fermentation aids and culturing practices. I think you are good to go without yeast nutrients here. HOWEVER, you may want to consider pecitinase enzymes to help break down the pectin from the hawthorn berries.

  • AB June 8, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Did you ever try it wild fermented without adding yeast and using the raw berries and hips, 1:6 or even 1:7 honey/water, aerating 2×/day for a week before airlocking? It comes out great almost every time! I like to pasteurize any dry herbs though. Great post!

    • Devon June 12, 2019 at 4:51 pm

      I haven’t done this particular recipe without adding yeast, but I have with others! I aerate my wild ferments at least twice and day and have pretty good results. Getting wild ferments to complete dryness is a bit of a chore, but I think I have been successful with patience!

  • Sandy July 28, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    I’d love to give this recipe a try but I’m not sure I’ll be able to find fresh Hawthorn berries. Can you use dried berries?

    • Devon July 28, 2019 at 10:25 pm

      I think fresh is ideal, but dried is totally worth a shot! If you do, please report back how it went with the dried berries!

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    About Me

    About Me

    Meet the Nitty Gritty Mama, Devon!

    I am an herbalist, farmer, cook, and forager. I get my hands dirty and am not afraid to do things the "hard way". Sharing my Nitty Gritty Life with you! Read More

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