Every time I go to the garden shop in town, I tell myself that.
No. More. Plants.
And every time I go, I wind up with more plants. After a few years living at 8,000 feet with a growing season of maybe 15 minutes in the middle of July, I’m in an area where I can have a garden. Granted, until I find a more permanent house, it’s a container garden, but I’m curing my gardening withdrawal with a new plant addiction.
One of the best parts of living in the PNW is the abundance of berries you can find here. Combine those with homegrown herbs, and you have an endless choice of combinations for meads, simple syrups, infused vodkas, teas, and other fun things.
I’ve collected some good ingredients so far that I can grow right in the backyard. Plants include tomatoes (mostly cherry tomato varieties), three types of sage, lemon balm, rosemary, basil, snap peas, squash, peppers, and strawberries.
Plus today’s find: culinary lavender. I’ve been wanting to try a lavender mead for a while now, but haven’t had the ingredients to do it. I’d rather use fresh than dried, and while all lavender is technically okay to use, the culinary varieties are preferable. The one I have is the Munstead cultivar, Lavandula angustifolia. The town garden shop thinks they’ll get more plants in soon, so y’all know what’s going to happen then.
I thought about whether to do a straight lavender mead or a lavender blackberry mead, so I’ll be doing both. Naturally. I have a literal ton of blackberries in my yard too, two different varieties of them. This recipe from The Meadist is the one I’ll be trying for the lavender-blackberry. Visit the site for all of the steps, and the comments. People who are brewing this recipe are encouraged to comment on how things go, and reading other people’s logs is helpful.
- 12 lbs. of raspberry honey
- 2 tbs Yeast Energizer
- 1/2 oz Lavender Flower Tips
- Lalvin 71B-1122 Yeast
- 9-10 lbs of blackberries
Unless the co-op gets another drum of raspberry honey in, I’ll use wildflower or clover honey instead. The raspberry honey that came in earlier was the variety I used in the 101 mead. I wasn’t able to get back to the store before they sold out, so lesson learned. Next time, I’m bringing an empty 1 gallon jug and enjoying the hell out of all the weird looks I get. Anyone who’s checked out a gallon or more of honey at a time knows what I mean. On the other hand, I’ve gotten some folks interested in brewing mead and had some good conversations with people who have been doing this longer than I have.
As for this recipe, Bill Savage (the man responsible for this magic) does recommend brewing the lavender into a tea before adding it to the must. I used a cold brewed tea for both batches of my hibiscus meads and cold brewed coffee for the coffee mead, and that method works very well. The added bonus is that you don’t need to worry about straining flower bits out later.
I won’t be starting this one till August. Our berries are running a few weeks behind thanks to a late spring. It’s going to take some time for them to come in, but judging by all the blackberry blooms, it’s going to be a good year.