Wild-Foraged Lilly Pilly Meade
This recipe was modified from Stephen Harrod Buhner’s “Sacred & Herbal Healing Beers” (Pub: 1998 by Brewer’s Publications, Colorado.)
I came across the Lilly Pilly Trees (Syzygium smithii) by chance, so classify them as wild foraged. I collected from multiple trees around December (Summer’s peak) when masses of berries were ripe. I found different fruit sizes, with colours in the pale & bright: pink & purple spectrums & chose the most vibrant, fresh looking berries – to get the handle on their quality, I used my tastebuds! My harvest was almost a full bucket’s worth (10L bucket) & because the branches were berry-laden, it did not take long to collect. I took care to avoid locations where groundcover was unhealthy – a precaution against local government use of herbicide sprays.
After removing bad fruit, leaves & sticks, I filled the bucket with water & gave a gentle, but thorough wash by rubbing the berries gently between my hands (taking great care not to squash them). Then I covered with fresh water & froze. My intention was to use the expansion of water as it freezes to burst open each cell & release the juicy goodness inside. Upon defrosting, I found the skin had held the berry in-shape. To remove the skin & seed, I rubbed vigorously between my hands, feeling them pop & squish! Then, I scooped out handfuls and pressed into a colander. Squeezing the remaining pulp into balls caused the liquid to fall freely through my fingers into the container below. I placed the squished balls of pulp aside for later use in the compost – they felt & looked like bright pink dough. The remaining juice was a vibrant, almost fluorescent pink with a sweet, delicate flavour.
- 5L Lilly Pilly juice.
- 1½kg honey.
- 5g ale yeast [Saccharomyces cerevisiae, “SafAle US-05”].
Note: Those familiar with craft brewing may notice the omission of water in the ingredients list. This will increase alcohol strength, but more importantly – bring out the Lilly Pilly flavour which is relatively delicate & light. Yeast was chosen for it’s clean, crisp characteristic which minimizes diversion from the Lilly Pilly delicacy.
- Place all ingredients into a sterile DIY beer fermentor. Allow to ferment in a dark, warm location for approximately one month. (Note: If you live in a warm climate it is not necessary to place in a warm location. Also, the whole month will likely be in excess. However this will not hurt your batch.)
- Siphon the liquid from the top (or if there are ‘floaties’, just below the surface). Don’t siphon all the way down – leave the bottom sediment (spent yeast).
- Pour into 1.25L bottles (pre-sterilized).
- Add carbonation drops or sucrose (they are the same thing). I use 3 (drops or teaspoons) per 1.25L bottle.
- Leave for a further two weeks in a dark location.
With ice & a lemonade mixer at a ratio of 1:1 (aka. 50/50). Enjoy!
Next time, I’ll try using WILD YEAST which naturally grows on the surface of fruit. And when my confidence grows – some apricot & other stone fruit seed!
Video source: You Tube / Common Sense Home. 2019. Making Mead with Wild Yeast. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJH8iR3PZ3U. [Accessed 5 January 2020].