These two sisters have been known to share a libation from time to time, and we enjoy it even more when it is homemade. Dee loaned me a book from her always expanding library called “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. The first recipe we have explored is T’ej which is an Ethiopian Mead. Mead is an alchohol made from honey. The recipe piqued Mr. Crow’’s interest because it required few ingredients, all of which we had on hand that moment the mood struck him to start the process.
We used honey, some strawberries (but any fresh fruit will work), basil (again, any herbs will work) and water. That’s it and we just love the simplicity! Over the winter, we made fruit wines, but they required so many ingredients which either had to be ordered online or purchased in the city, two things I HATE to do! I also love the idea that we could be completely self sufficient in making this adult beverage…ok….fine…..once we successfully start keeping bees, of course!
72 OZ Honey
Some Fruit (we used 4 cups Strawberries)
add in some Herbs (Like 1 cup Basil)
1 ½ Gallons water
Vessel (we used a 5-gallon food safe plastic bucket…please learn from our mistake: this does not fit in a 2-gallon vessel)
3 gallon glass carboy
It is important to really do a good job sanitizing the container and spoon you are going to use (for those of you like me who like to cut corners…. this is not a corner to cut!), so we started by washing out the equipment thoroughly. Mr. Crow then cut off the green tops from the strawberries and took the basil leaves off the stem, heated the water and poured the honey into the crock. Lastly, he added the warm water, which dissolves the honey, then added the berries and herbs and covered the crock with cheesecloth. This took 10 minutes.
The fussiest part of this process is that you must stir the mix twice a day for the first few weeks. Ensure you take the time to sanitize your stirring utensil every time (ugh!) Luckily, this takes 3 minutes twice a day.
After 2 weeks, strain the T’ej using cheese cloth and funnel the liquid into a 3 gallon glass carboy vessel and fill the rest of the carboy with water. Put a water air lock in the opening of the carboy and watch it bubble away! Wait at least 3 weeks to bottle. We use recycled Grolsh bottles with new red seals, as it is the perfect size for us. We prefer to enjoy the T’ej as a spritzer, adding ice and club soda with a squeeze of lemon. The sweetness of this magical elixir does lessen over time. I recommend tasting it every two weeks as it ferments to find the sweetness you desire. Enjoy!