Best Served Warm

Did you know the best way to drink blueberry mead is warm?

Preferably bit a bit of added sweetener (honey or worst case sugar) if it’s not already sweet enough.

Absolutely delicious.

 

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Next time I make blueberry mead I’ll try to remember to write down the proportions for you, so a proper recipe can be given. Until then I can only give a vague description, which in all fairness can be good enough if you already know your way around mead brewing.

What I do is simple. When time comes to start a new batch I get loads and loads of blueberries into a pot and heat it up, as if about to make jelly or lemonade. I mush it about a little but not too much, there’s no need to do much. It’ll get nice and juicy anyway! I then strain it to get all the skins and more solid stuff out, leaving just the raw, fresh blueberry juice.

Then, it’s just a matter of taking the regular mead recipe and replacing water with that fresh blueberry juice, as much as there was of it. As many liters of fresh blueberry juice added, as many liters of water subtracted from the standard recipe. The brewing process is then just the same as usual!

And, as I started out with… the result is best served warm. Definitely recommended during the cold season ahead. Yum!

Apple mead experiment

Experimentation time!

We’ve done regular mead. We’ve done blueberry mead and wild raspberry mead. Glögg-mead too (don’t ask me to translate that). Never apple mead though! So, about time!

As usual I’m silly and opposed to using a tried and tested recipe. What would be the fun in that?

This experimental mead batch, going under the name Cecilia, is simply made by adding raw applejuice to the mix of honey, water and yeast culture. I am not at all content with the amount of liquid I managed to get out of the apples, there was much more in the apple mush but with a clogged up juicer I couldn’t get it all out. I am also not too happy with the amount of apple mush (my very technical made up term for mashed apple) that ended up in the juice – I really should have filtered it as it came out from the juicer. Any sign of mould and I’ll just have to scrap the batch and try again with less mush and more clean apple juice.

Once I know how it turns out I’ll let you know!

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If you who are reading this have any experience in brewing apple mead, would you care to share your experiences? Did you use whole pieces of apple or like me, just the juice? How did it turn out, good?

Creative urges. And mead!

The New Year has started with a surge of creativity. My mind is bubbling with words that want out. Images too. And, unusually, music.

I’m no musician, no songwriter. But suddenly I have the urge to turn words into music, I hear the beat of a drum deep within, the thud of stomping feet, honest words sung by a sweet, haunting voice.

Perhaps it’s possible, we shall see. Late night hours have resulted in a song to Odin, and I am now looking at the potential of actually turning it into music together with a dear friend. More than that I don’t want to say yet though, time will tell how it all goes.

 

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On another note, I realized there was a post I forgot to put up here. Almost a month ago we bottled our latest batch of mead and I was meaning to post a picture of the result! How in the world did I forget to do so?

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The batch, which we named Agnes, turned out just lovely. It’s a little fizzy and sweet, though not too much. Nothing fancy or special this time, it’s just plain old mead from the same yeast culture we have been using for years now.

What’s new is that we finally decided to start keeping more detailed records over our brewing. Where before we have just been doing, we now do AND make a record of it in our pretty little mead book. With a bit of luck we’ll be able to figure out what exactly it is we’ve done right when the result is better, and what we’ve done wrong when it’s not as good…

Porridge, Christmas and Ceremonial Sacrifice?

There is an interesting old Christmas tradition here in Sweden. It has nothing to do with Santa Claus or the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. It involves… porridge, traditionally. Yeah, porridge.

According to tradition, a family should always remember to leave a bowl of good porridge outside on Christmas eve. Sweet, good porride, preferably with a knob of butter in it. Thanks to a bit of linguistic confusion and mixing of traditions, some today (kids especially, I am guessing) will believe that this bowl of porridge is for Santa Claus. But no!

The word used in Swedish for Santa Claus is “tomte”. But see, already before people were bringing the great big bearded gift giver (Santa) into the picture, a “tomte” was more like a gnome. You know garden gnomes? A little creature looking like an old man, only… small? Yep, that’s it. That is a “tomte” if you cut Santa out of the picture.

These are beings that have been thought to live alongside humans, helping to take care of the home and those living there. Make your house “tomte” upset and you might find your cows getting sick! Keep him happy and he’ll make sure things run smoothly around the farm. He’ll help keep the place clean, orderly, safe. If kept happy.

And there we get to the porridge. On Christmas eve tradition said, and still says, that a bowl of porridge should be left outside for the “tomte”, the (hopefully) friendly house gnome, as a thank you for all his help, and in the wish that he’ll stay happy and helpful.

Yes, it’s still done today. Not by every family – you won’t see people set out porridge outside their apartment doors in the cities for example – but it is still very much a living tradition. Few will call it a “sacrifice”, but of course that is what it is.

So many will think of sacrifice as involving blood and death, they imagine slaughtering animals in honour of pagan gods, they imagine the macabre and scary. Sacrifice doesn’t have to be that. It can just be that bowl of porridge too.

 


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So far this winter we have had unusually little snow, but it is still beautiful.

 

Being raised a city girl, brought up in an apartment block in a highly modern city, I never did this as a child. Still it was something I was aware of, as long as I can remember I’ve known of the tradition, it was just not something done in my neighbourhood – who expected the apartment block to have any tomtar anyway?

Today, my husband and I live in a classic red-and-white house out on the countryside. The picture above shows the view from our living room window! Any tomtar around?

I am not bound by tradition. My beliefs are my own, I draw inspiration from tradition but in the end, I put together my own practices. And while I see a core of truth in the idea of the tomte, I do not see it as a little old man with grey beard and a hunger for porridge specifically. I see the unseen, the spirits of the land, the beings living and breathing here, by our side but mostly unknown. Benevolent or not so much, friendly or mischievous, it probably varies. They are not gods, nor angels, nor something as abstract as symbols. They are people but not like us. I don’t understand them yet, but there they are.

We didn’t give porridge. My husband absolutely hates porridge and we very rarely have any at home. And we weren’t even at home on Christmas eve, so instead it was done a few days after, when we had returned home. I don’t think they care if it’s the 24th or 25th of 27th anyway.

Blueberry mead. We offered blueberry mead, drank some ourselves, toasted to the spirits of the land and all those who are, have been and will be tied to this land. The moon was big and gave far more light than the little lantern we had brought out, the sky was full of stars and the night was cold. As ceremonies go, it was simple yet beautiful.

Perhaps it’ll be some porridge too next year. With plenty of sugar and cinnamon, and a knob of butter in the center. But for this year, I think the mead did well enough.