Homemade “Cuties” Orange Mead Recipe

This is the first mead that we ever made, and it turned out so amazing… everything else has pretty much paled in comparison. Definitely one of our top 3 favorite homemade wine recipes!

If you’re going to make a batch of this, act fast – we used peels from “Cuties” oranges, which are only in season for a few months each year. Love them… I can snarf a crate by myself, in a sitting, if left to my own devices. Yum. Anyway, I think their season end is coming up, so stock up! This starts out incredibly fragrant – almost like a delicious, fruity tea – but don’t drink much of it before fermenting! The finished product is even better!

Another nice thing about this wine is that it is very good when fairly “young”, compared to many meads – At only 6 months old, this tasted amazing. Age it if you like – we haven’t been able to keep any long enough to see how it ages. Our first 5 gallon batch was almost all gone LONG before the next Cuties season had started!

The ABV on this came out to about 8%. If you haven’t read our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here.

Homemade Cuties Mead Recipe

4 gallons spring water
15 lbs honey
2-3 oz fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 vanilla beans, sliced in half lengthwise
Peels and juice from about 12 Cuties oranges
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
5-6 whole cloves
1 tsp acid blend
3 tsp yeast nutrient
1 packet White Labs “WLP 720 Sweet Mead” yeast

Heat 3 gallons of the water to a simmer. Add honey, stir until dissolved.

Add ginger, vanilla beans (scraping seeds into the mixture before adding the pods), peels, juice, rosemary, and spices. Bring mixture back up to a simmer and keep it there – just simmering, not boiling – for about 45 minutes.

Strain mixture into a sanitized bucket, removing herbs, spices, and fruit. Cover bucket with sanitized lid, allow to cool to room temperature.

Using a sanitized funnel, transfer cooled mixture to a sanitized 5 gallon carboy, topping up with remaining water until carboy is almost full. Swirl to combine.

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading. It should be in around the 1.088 area. Keep track of the number!

Sprinkle yeast into carboy, cover with sanitized air lock. Let sit, undisturbed, overnight.

Within 24 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go! Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month.

Using sanitized equipment, rack the clarified wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized 5 gallon carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.

Repeat racking process. Leave wine alone for a month or two. By 6 months in, your mead should be very clear, and VERY tasty!

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading, then rack the mead into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork. (We like to use these for corking our homemade wine. Easy to use – no special equipment needed! – easy to uncork, and – should you have any wine left in your bottle after serving (pfft!), the “cork” is easily replaced for temporary storage!)

Enjoy.. and start planning for next year’s batch(es)!

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Author:Marie Porter

Marie is an award winning cake artist based in Minnesota's Twin Cities. Known as much for her delicious and diverse flavor menu as for her sugar artistry, Marie's work has graced magazines and blogs around the world. Having baked and designed for brides, celebrities, and even Klingons, Marie was proud to share her wealth of baking knowledge in her two cookbooks: "The Spirited Baker" and “Evil Cake Overlord”. Marie has also authored a book about her experiences surrounding the 2011 Minneapolis tornado: "Twisted: A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir"

3 Responses to “Homemade “Cuties” Orange Mead Recipe”

  1. Charlie
    December 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I’ve been making Mead for the 22 years.
    Thought theirs sounded good. Wonderful! Tastes alot like orange tea.
    I had to change it up a bit of course, used orange blossom honey, One 12oz non-pulp frozen OJ, and orange zest from 4 Valencia oranges. (Ate the oranges.) 4tsp vanilla extract. The rest is the same.

  2. Angie
    December 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Humorously, I actually woke up thinking about this today. I remembered that it was a thought from a while ago and wondered if you had perfected the recipe. Then I saw your post and I was glad to see that you had. Now I just have to weigh the pros and cons of starting up a new hobby. 🙂

  3. Joel
    September 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    The recipe look exciting. I can’t wait to try it. I have a question about the recipe though. You instructions do not use the ingredients you listed below. Also, as I understand it the yeast you listed is in a liquid form. Did you just drop it into the batch, or did you do a starter yeast using the 3 tsp of yeast nutrients, or are you just putting all in the batch.
    1 tsp acid blend
    3 tsp yeast nutrient
    1 packet White Labs “WLP 720 Sweet Mead” yeast

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