Brewer: Max the Executioner
Recipe Source: Original
Recipe Name: Appel Medu
Category: Division 3
Time/Place Paneled: SR Investiture 2013
Panel Score: 76
Recipe for Appel Medu
Wines made of appels (apples) were mentioned as far back as 70 AD in the book of Natural History by Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder). Pliny also mentioned that all wines could be improved in quality by the addition of honey. It would only make sense that apple wines (not ciders) could only be made one of two ways. One of which would be boiling a portion of the apple juice down so that the sugars remaining would be high enough to ferment into a high enough alcohol state to act as a preservative for the wine. The other would be to add honey (another concentrated sugar source) to the apple juice to achieve the same goals. Boiling various fruit juices into concentrated forms for later use was a common practice in Pliny’s time. These fruit juice concentrates were used in wine making to boost the sweetness of the wine. To retain more of the true flavor of the apples I chose to not boil down a portion of my apple juice but instead added honey to up the sugar content. Back in Pliny’s time, one would have started a controlled fermentation by first pasteurizing the juice. This would have been accomplished by bringing the apple juice up to a high enough temperature so that the honey would have easily dissolved into it. Then, once the mixture was cooled, lees or the yeast sludge from a previous batch of wine would have been added. After fermentation, the wine would have been racked off of the new lees and placed in a either a wooden cask or ceramic amphora depending on what part of the empire you were in for aging. At this time, sulfur or sulfurous tree resins would have been added to the wine as an additional preservative to the alcohol. In modern days, we call the finished product cyser.
Here is how I deviated from the original process and my reasons for doing so:
- Instead of fermenting in oak barrels or ceramic amphora I chose to do 100% of my fermentation in glass. I did this because glass is the least reactive material and adds no flavors of its own to the wine.
- I did not press my own apples because I don’t have my own equipment to do this. I bought cider pre-pressed from a local mill.
- I also used a commercial freeze-dried wine yeast and added malic, tartaric, citric and tannic acids along with a yeast nutrient. All these items are present in regular wine lees “yeast sludge” which is what I was trying to duplicate.
- I didn’t boil my cider and honey mixture because the honey I used is way over-processed to begin with. There was no need to boil away the few flavor molecules left in it. Instead I brought the mixture up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit and held that temperature for 5 minutes. This was sufficient to kill off any wild yeast growths prior to pitching the wine yeast.
- The use of sulfites is because I wanted the appel medu to last for longer than a week or 2 without going bad. The use of sulfur and sulfurous tree resins date back at least 2000 years and were mentioned in Book 14, Chapter 25 of Pliny the Elder’s Book of Natural History.
- 10 pounds of honey
- 1 ½ fluid ounce acid blend
- 1/4 teaspoon grape tannin
- 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient
- 1 packet Wine yeast - I use Red Star Montrachet
- 6 sulfite tablets
- 2.5 gallon Apple Cider
- ½ tsp pectic enzyme
- Make sure all of your equipment is clean, free of soap or detergent and sterilized with sulfites.
- Put cider into pot and bring to 175° F.
- Add in honey and other ingredients minus the yeast and sulfites.
- Lower heat and stir until they dissolve.
- Transfer mixture: 16 ounces to the glass jar and 368 ounces to the 3 gallon carboy.
- When the contents of the quart jar reach 78 - 80°F, add yeast.
- 8 hours later add yeast to the carboy from the quart jar,
- Put fermentation lock to top of jug.
- Let ferment for 4 - 12 weeks at 70 - 80°F until it stops.
- Rack off clear appel medu to second 3 gallon carboy leaving yeast sludge behind. Top off the second carboy with sulfited cider solution. (2 tablets per gallon)
- Repeat step 10 at 3 months and at 6 months.
- At 9 months bottle with sulfites (2 tablets per gallon).
Book of Natural History by Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), Book 14: Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 14, Chapter 19, Chapter 25, and Chapter 26; Book 15: Chapter 10, Chapter 11 and Chapter 15.
From Making Medieval Mead or, Dead Before Digby (The Compleat Anachronist #120 – Summer 2003) by Christiana M. Krupp – Duchess Marieke van de Dal and Bill Gillen – Master Cenwulf Bearwes, Pages 15, 22, 24
Making Mead by Roger A. Morse
Making Mead by Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan
- 2 - 3 gallon glass jugs (carboys)
- Four feet of clear plastic siphon hose
- 2 one foot sections of clear plastic tubing
- a 1 – 1 ½ gallons non-metallic pot
- a non-metallic spoon
- a non-metallic funnel
- a fermentation lock and rubber stopper
- 1 one quart glass jar
- Floating thermometer
- Non-metallic measuring cup and measuring spoons
- 15 Glass 750 ml wine bottles
- 15 Corks
- Cork Press
- Pliny the Elder, Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Translated by H. Rackham. The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 17, pg. 255, London: Harvard University Press, 1945; 1968.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 19, pg. 261.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 17, pg. 253.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 10, pg. 241.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 3, pg. 197.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 5, pg. 221.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 26, pg. 273.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 3, pg. 197, Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 6, pg. 225.
- Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny: Vol. 4, Book 14, Chapter 25, pg. 271.