Perry Mead: A Yeast Experiment

I recently ordered a new cookbook called Drink the Harvest: Making and Preserving Juices, Wines, Meads, Teas and Ciders (Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest).  In it, I found a recipe for a fermented pear cider called “Very Perry Holiday Mead.”  I was super excited to try it and also glad to have another use for my never-ending pears.

To start, I juiced pears and strained out most of the pulp until I had a pitcher-full of juice.  This I set aside.

Next, I had to activate the yeast.  This is where I decided to make this into a little yeast experiment.  The recipe calls for Pasteur Champagne or white wine yeast.  I went to Jungle Jim’s to look for this specific kind and found three types of white wine yeast.  One said it was a “white wine” yeast, another for “sparkling white wine” and a third for “fruit flavored white wine.”  I have read a lot about fermentation and everyone says that different yeast creates different flavors, but I want to taste it for myself.  So, I came up with a plan: I’ll make three identical batches of Perry, changing only one thing, the type of yeast used.

To activate the yeast, I simply warmed a cup of my pear juice slightly (less than 30 seconds in the microwave) then added a packet of yeast.  Let it sit until it bubbles.

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Activated yeast – see how bubbly it is? It’s alive!

Meanwhile, I sterilized a gallon carboy and poured in four cups of raw honey.  To that, I added two cups of boiling water from a kettle.  Swirl, swirl, swirl – as vigorously as you can without splashing yourself – it’s hot!  After the honey is dissolved in the water, pour in 8 cups of pear juice/cider.  Swirl again to mix.

Now you will add 1/2 cup of regular raisins (not golden) and several spices: 1/2 cinnamon stick, 5 cardamom pods, and 3 whole cloves.  Touch the outside of the carboy.  If it’s still hot, let it sit a while until it reaches lukewarm.  If it’s too hot, it’ll kill your yeast.

Once it’s cool enough, add the activated yeast and then fill any remaining space with filtered water.  Top it off with a sterilized cork and airlock.

Within an hour I had fairly active bubbling at the top of my carboys.

By morning they were going wild!  Watch the yeast burps.

So, the recipe says to let the Perry ferment until “the bubbling stops and the liquid clears.”  This could take several weeks to several months.

Once it clears I will “rack” it.  That simply means you siphon it into a new container leaving the sediment at the bottom behind.  This helps the liquid to clear.  You can repeat several times if necessary, adding more juice if needed.

Finally, it’ll be bottled and left to age for 6 months-1 year.

I’ll post again when I’m ready for the next step so check back!


Which yeast do you think will produce the nicest tasting Perry?

2 thoughts on “Perry Mead: A Yeast Experiment

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