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"Cuties" orange mead

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NerdyMarie

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Just going to cut and paste the recipe from the blog entry I just wrote about it!

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 start 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)!
 

LexxTalon

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This looks pretty interesting... good color... none of what I assume are supposed to be links work though...
 
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NerdyMarie

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Whoops! Yeah, they were links in the blog entry... nothing really necessary here though, I'd written some info on getting started, as mine us Just a food blog - readers don't necessarily know anything about home brewing.
 

Sirthomas42

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I made a batch of this recently for my wife for Christmas. It's hidden in a cardboard box in the back closet of the spare bedroom she never goes into. She said she really wants a Christmasy spiced drink come Christmas time, and she loves Mead, so this fits the bill. But man, I discovered making wine/mead is a much bigger pain in the ass by yourself, when you're used to having a spare set of hands. :) I'll bulk age it over the summer, and probably bottle in November so it's over the 'bottle-shock' so it's ready to drink Christmas day. She's going to be stunned, I can't wait. :)

In a couple weeks, when we have a spare primary again, I'm going to make up a batch of your Mango Pulp wine, NerdyMarie. It looks fantastic!
 

jwynia

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Mine's just moved to secondary and the taste as I was transferring is promising and tasty, if a bit hot at this point.
 
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NerdyMarie

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We've recently put on 2 5 gallon batches of this, as the first batch went WAY too quickly.

One batch was per the recipe, the other was using peel and juice of 4 lbs "Tropicana" oranges. Can't wait!

Next challenge is to come up with a faux lingonberry wine. Our actually lingonberry wine is the most amazing thing I've ever made... but the lingonberries are very seasonal, hard to get, and kind of expensive.
 

jwynia

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Hey, Marie. Was digging for more mead recipes and suddenly recognized your recipe. :)
 

Sirthomas42

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I started a batch of this back in April, as a Christmas present for my wife. Completely in secret, I bottled it the other day and hid it all back in the closet. I drank the 8 oz or so that were leftover and OMG it's amazing. It finished sweet, about 1.018, yet still about 15% abv (I didn't exactly know what I was doing then, so my OG was way too high). Man, it's going to kill me having to wait until Xmas to have more :)
 

Sirthomas42

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So here's Christmas morning, my wife opens her case of tasty mead, and was absolutely blown away. Best present ever, 9 months in the making :)

image-1252609158.jpg
 
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NerdyMarie

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So here's Christmas morning, my wife opens her case of tasty mead, and was absolutely blown away. Best present ever, 9 months in the making :)
Awesome! Glad to hear that it went over so well!

If you have a sec, mind posting that to my facebook page? ( Celebration Generation | Facebook ) I'm running a giveaway for the next week or so - people who post photos of whatever they've made from my recipes are entered in a draw for my 2 current cookbooks, and my upcoming tornado memoir!

I just really want to encourage photo sharing. I think it inspires people to try new things, when they see what others have made!
 
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NerdyMarie

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forgive my ignorance - are cuties clementines the same as cuties oranges?
Sort of.

Cuties is the brand name, and the are actually 2 varieties - the Clementines are the first batch, and last til around January or February. These are the "crack oranges", and what I like to use for mead.

For a couple months after February, they go to their second variety, which is a mandarin. Decent, but nowhere near as great as the clementines.
 

HenryVance3

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I just made this, it is my first batch of mead and it looks awesome and smells like heaven! 6 months to go.....
 

Br3wb1e

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image-3586004650.jpg

Just transferred into my secondary car boy. It's at 10.5% and climbing!!! Saved a large shot glass worth and put it in my fridge. Tastes like heaven!!!

Still don't know if I wanna make it sparkling or not. Please let me know your opinions. :)
 

Vlad

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Looks amazing! I can only imagine the taste. Personally I wouldn't bother with making it "sparkling." but let us know either way.
 

BPhad

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Nice inspiration I'm going to attempt to brew a Belgian wit using these !
 

demons210

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Ok, I'm kinda new to mead/ wine making. This looks great though but when do you add the yeast nutrient and acid blend?
 

HenryVance3

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Ok I am at month 5 and very strong banana esters and gravity was 1.12? What should I do?
 

Sirthomas42

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You can scale most any batch up or down for whatever size carboy you hav available. 3 gallon, 1 gallon, 5 or 6, just take whatever recipe and multiply/divide the ingredients.
 

demons210

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Bulk fermented/aged for 5 months. Bottled a month ago for a total of 6 months. Came out to 13% abv. It's very sweet. I like it but is a little to sweet. I think next time I would use white labs semi sweet yeast. I did use 16lbs of honey though. I don't no how much the extra lb of honey made but over all this is pretty good. Thanks for the recipe.
 

hungry4hops

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Its that time of year cuties are in season! Just finished making this for the first time, the wife and I are very excited we both LOVE cuties, the house smells wonderful thanks so much for sharing the recipe! Followed the recipe to a T, I will report back in 6 months or so and let you know how it turns out

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saramc

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My MIL gave me a few bags of Cuties, so I microwaved the fruit for seven seconds, sliced the required amount in half and hand juiced. I find that a quick burst of microwave therapy increases the juice yield on citrus. Then froze for six hours, vacuum sealed everything and stashed in the freezer. Just waiting on an empty carboy.
 

saramc

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Bulk fermented/aged for 5 months. Bottled a month ago for a total of 6 months. Came out to 13% abv. It's very sweet. I like it but is a little to sweet. I think next time I would use white labs semi sweet yeast. I did use 16lbs of honey though. I don't no how much the extra lb of honey made but over all this is pretty good. Thanks for the recipe.
What was your starting and final gravity? I saw the OP had an OG of 1.088 using 15# with four gallons water with a final ACV of around 8%. I know with the local wildflower honey I have my OG will come in at 1.130 using the posted recipe, much higher ACV even if all fermentable is not used. Makes me wonder why there is such a difference in OG 1.088 vs 1.130--quite a range.
 

DanU

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So for anyone that has made this recipe, this mead comes out pretty sweet right? I am trying to brew something my wife likes. Her favorite wine is moscato, made by Alasia, which is pretty sweet. If I can make something similar to that, it would be great.

I am thinking of making a 3 gal batch of this using D-47 yeast which is supposed to be able to tolerate around 12-14% alcohol. So would 9lb of orange blossom honey combined with the juice from about 9 cuties clementines come out sweet in the end without back sweetening, or should I add some more honey? I think I am aiming for sweetness somewhere close to dessert wine territory.

What FG should I aim for? Maybe about 1.03?
 

DanU

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So I was doing some further calculations, I was thinking of using about 10.75 lbs of honey for a 3 gal batch to get a OG of about 1.13 (1.129). Using D47 which goes to about 12-14% alcohol, the FG would be around 1.025-1.04 if I go with that.
 

demons210

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DanU said:
So I was doing some further calculations, I was thinking of using about 10.75 lbs of honey for a 3 gal batch to get a OG of about 1.13 (1.129). Using D47 which goes to about 12-14% alcohol, the FG would be around 1.025-1.04 if I go with that.
Just a heads up, I made this for my wife as well because she doesn't like dry wines at all and this came out real sweet. She said it was to sweet. I used white labs sweet mead yeast and if I make it again I would go wl semi-sweet mead yeast. Good luck to you.
 

DanU

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Just a heads up, I made this for my wife as well because she doesn't like dry wines at all and this came out real sweet. She said it was to sweet. I used white labs sweet mead yeast and if I make it again I would go wl semi-sweet mead yeast. Good luck to you.

Thanks for the info. Did you follow the exact proportions in the recipe or use a different amount of honey? Can you taste the orange? And lastly, do you happen to know your OG or FG?
 

demons210

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DanU said:
Thanks for the info. Did you follow the exact proportions in the recipe or use a different amount of honey? Can you taste the orange? And lastly, do you happen to know your OG or FG?
The only thing I changed was the honey. I used 16 lbs. I tried it at 7 months and it still needed to chill out a little more. I'm at 9 now so I might crack another one pretty soon. The orange was very lite. I'm hoping the orange and vanilla come threw a little more over time. I think my O.G. Was 1.110 and I'll have to check my F.G. Later when I get home. It ended up being 13%.
 

FlashJT

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Going to whip up a batch of this tonight. Too late in the season for Cuties clementines (only see mandarin variety out there now), but the store did have Darling Clementines so I'm hoping that will works as a close substitute. Time will tell.

Is there any reason to NOT use more than 12 clementines? I don't typically eat oranges, so I'm wondering if there's any harm in using the whole package. I suppose this would increase the orange flavor, but might negatively impact the other spices present by covering them up with too much orange flavor. Maybe I should just stick with 12 to be safe. Comments?

Edit: Further to my previous question, can anyone comment on the overall flavor of the spices? Can you taste the ginger/vanilla/rosemary/cloves? Are any lacking and need to be increased? I suppose I'll have to take some samples of the brew while it's simmering to see what it's tasting like. I can always make adjustments from there, but always enjoy opinions of people that have already made this particular recipe.
 

tx-brewer

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Flash, I made a one gallon batch two months ago. I juiced the whole box of cuties using about 3/4 juice and reserving the rest for backsweetening. At 2 weeks in I loved the flavor. Very dominant orange which is what I wanted. At a month and a half in it was much more subtle. I'm hoping it will come back more with age.

I believe the op did 12 oranges for a 5 gallon batch, which imo would be much more of a subtle flavor than dominant. I will update on my future tastings
 

DanU

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I was hoping for a bit stronger orange flavor also. I used 15 cuties clementines for a 3 gal batch. I pitched the yeast on 01/20/2013, so I will be transferring to secondary this weekend. I will taste it and post an update. It is looking pretty clear but I'm sure it has a good bit more clearing to do. Also, it seems that a good bit of the orange aroma/flavor comes from steeping the orange peels.
 

FlashJT

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Ok, never mind. I'm not making this one evidently. Went to put everything together last night and found that the Darling Clementines that I just bought on Saturday are already nasty and moldy (on Thursday night). What a sham! So, I'm going to switch gears and try the vanilla mead instead. Just ordered a bunch of vanilla off Amazon that will be here Tuesday. Will come back to this one next year when cuties are back in season. Can't wait!
 

Tyler21

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So I made a 1 gallon batch and at 5 months in I'm not that impressed. In fact there is now sweet notes whatsoever. I can't really taste the cuties. Not sure what is going on. I'm really bummed, can anybody give me some direction? Thanks.
 
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