Can you make “mead” from fruit syrup?
November 18, 2018 12:43 PM   Subscribe

I have a largish amount of green plum syrup left over from making maesil-ju (Korean plum liqueur) and I’m wondering if I can ferment it into something like mead?

It doesn’t contain honey—it was made by macerating plums with white sugar for several months.
I do use it to flavor things when cooking, and in other drinks, but I have kind of a lot of it and I think a mead version might be tasty! However I’ve never tried making mead before so I’m not sure if it would work.
posted by exceptinsects to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
Yeast can turn pretty well any sugar into alcohol, so, yes, it'll ferment. I think it's called a melomel, though, not a mead. Mead bubbles like crazy, so I'd bottle it in something that can handle the pressure, like a champagne bottle, and I suspect this stuff would, too. Anyhoo, try it out and let me know - I've only ever made mead and spiced mead.
posted by Mogur at 1:20 PM on November 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

+1 to the non-choosiness of yeast! I think this would be great to try; I'm not even sure if it'd be a melomel because I don't believe there's ever been honey involved. I think it would be a strong, strong cider.

My partner makes a lot of cider (omg we have so much cider -_-), and it's always in two stages: the first stage is where it bubbles like crazy, and he always does that with a carboy and an airlock so that the gases can escape. Then, when the yeast have eaten all the sugar (or have created enough alcohol -- I think this is about 15%? -- that they can no longer survive), the bubbling stops, and you bottle it. There's a lot of washing / sanitizing (he uses StarSan) involved.

(sorry if you knew all this -- I just wanted to make sure you knew what you were getting into!)
posted by batter_my_heart at 2:04 PM on November 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

You can ferment pretty much anything with sugar in it that's an acceptable pH for the yeast. If you have a homebrew shop near you, they can probably recommend a yeast that would work well both in terms of flavor and growth. Especially if you bring in a sample.
posted by Candleman at 2:26 PM on November 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would call that a country wine, and my parents used to make it with all sorts of things when I was young (parsnip and dandelion come to mind, so you can imagine it was mainly the added sugar doing the fermenting). Normally you'd dump fruit and a ton of sugar in a demijohn (carboy) with wine yeast and water and stick an airlock on top. In your case the flavouring is already there. If you can find a plum wine recipe you can make some educated guesses about whether you need more sugar or water to balance it out, but it's probably going to turn out reasonable.

Cider is from apples and mead involves honey. You're making something like a Japanese ume-shu.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 2:33 PM on November 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I’d try it out! Definitely use a container with an airlock for the fermentation (like a 1-gallon glass carboy with a rubber or silicone cork with a hole drilled through it, and airlock that fits into the cork-hole). A champagne or white wine yeast will probably be a bit better adapted to the sugar than a beer yeast.

One thing I’d caution is that if the syrup is, well, very syrupy, there might actually be TOO much sugar for a yeast to be happy- above about 25 degrees Brix (250g sugar/100g syrup or ~ 30% sugar by volume) you can get a bit of osmotic shock. A syrup that is stable is usually so because it is much higher in sugar than that: it doesn’t ferment because the sugar is actually too concentrated for the yeast to grow.

You will probably need to dilute your syrup. if you don’t have a refractometer or hydrometer handy, I would do it by taste- you want it to be as sweet as a really sweet juice, not as sweet as a syrup. Try cutting it by half with water, if it’s a syrupy syrup now.
posted by zingiberene at 5:16 PM on November 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yes, you can ferment it! I agree with everyone above me as far as that goes, so will limit my advice to suggesting you use Red Star Montrachet yeast (a red wine yeast), to keep as much fruit flavor as possible, and to keep some residual sugars. Stay away from from champagne yeast, it'll leave it too dry, and with plums, that will leave it very tart. Other than that: go nuts!
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:53 PM on November 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I will give it a try!

I know mead is officially made with honey so I don’t know what exactly it should be called.

Ume-shu is basically the same thing as maesil-ju—they are made by soaking the macerated plums in shochu/soju, so there’s not a fermentation process and it doesn’t get fizzy. It’s usually called plum wine but it’s not really a wine as such, more like a cordial or schnapps.
posted by exceptinsects at 8:22 PM on November 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don’t know what exactly it should be called.

Might I suggest calling it a "plum brandy"? Apparently, there's a kind of plum brandy called Slivovitz that's popular in Poland, Czech Republic, and surrounding areas.
posted by mhum at 8:42 AM on November 19, 2018

Slivovitz is made from plums fermented with water and sugar, distilled after a few months to 50% strength (or more, depending on how hardcore the farmer is!) so that would be an additional step. Personally I'd try just adding the syrup to liquor cocktails, especially vodka-based ones since vodka is fairly neutral.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:29 AM on November 19, 2018

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