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Post-Fermentation Star Anise Infusion

A while back we had an apple melomel that wasn’t entirely perfect. As one does, in went another couple of kilograms of honey and we pitched our yeast then left it to ferment out again. The final mead wasn’t too shabby at all coming directly from the carboy.

But when you’re in that fix-everything-with-a-hammer frame of mind it’s easy to follow curiosity right out the door. Enter the camel for a ride down the ancient spice trail.

We sanitised four clean 5 litre glass demijohns to try something interesting. The first two carboys would be flavoured with star anise, one carboy with vanilla beans and the fourth with my old favourite gangbuster potion of raw chilli. Don’t laugh, if you love raw chilli in food you’re going to burn your lips off when you start making raw chilli infused mead.

So, on advice from the Twitters, we put 250 millilitres of water into a small saucepan and threw in about a dozen fresh star anise (much more than recommended on the Twitters). This simmered for about forty minutes and when it got to around 150 ml we added small quantities of water to keep the liquid simmering at around that 150 ml level.

In another small saucepan we simmered around 200 ml of water and three fresh whole vanilla beans to reduce down to a level around 100 ml.

When both liquids had simmered for around 40+ minutes we turned them off to cool under a protective lid. Patience in making mead is key.

At room temperature the contents of the star anise solution (plus the star anise) got divided into two glass demijohns. The vanilla beans and the 100ml of vanilla liquid were poured into the third demijohn. We dropped about three large chopped red chillis into the fourth (Update: the red chilli version failed for what are probably obvious reasons actually worked out fine). The apple melomel was racked to near full directly from the fermenter into all four demijohns.

So far, about two months into the experiment, about two litres of the star anise has disappeared. It’s uber-golden-clear, carries a strong unadulterated aniseed flavour and, while sweet, doesn’t get carried away on the honey. This aniseed melomel works perfectly in mixed drinks. Surprising, but it works in an awful LOT of mixed drinks.

Oh, we haven’t sampled tha vanilla demijohn at this point. It’s maturing. Although we do know exactly what that raw chilli infusion will taste like because it’s one of our favourites.

It should be made clear that you would need to rack off the spices when the mead has cleared.

Seriously, if you haven’t yet considered your post-fermentation mead flavouring options then set up a few of your own experiments. Jump on that camel. Go source good spices. Because there really are no rules in Mead Club.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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