Alcoholic drinks made with honey have been around for millennia and were invented along with beekeeping. With time the technology has evolved, but its taste and hints of hops remained the same. This article will get you acquainted with a recipe for homemade medovukha. We’ll go through two recipes, modern as well as the classic recipe without yeast and boiling, which was more popular in the past.
Medovukha is a low alcohol drink (5-10%) obtained by fermenting honey. Aside from water its list of ingredients might also include yeast, hops, flavoring agents, and other substances depending on the recipe. There’s a recipe for strong medovukha but it implements adding the exact amount of alcohol (vodka) to the final product with no fermentation. This method allows getting the exact ABV up to 75 degrees.
In Ancient Rus’ this “drinkable honey” was considered holy and so it was an integral feature of many festivities, but in the Middle Ages, this wonderful beverage was forgotten. Medovukha was reinvented during the first years of the Soviet Union when beekeepers had large amounts of perishable honey. That’s why they started making medovukha with baker’s yeast.
This new low alcohol drink was well received. It was made at home with not only bad honey but also high-quality ripe honey diluted with water. After a few decades, mass production of medovukha started. In a Russian town Suzdal, medovukha is still produced to this day.
Modern Homemade Medovukha
- Honey – 300 grams
- Water – 2 liters
- Dry yeast – 1 tsp (or 25 grams of pressed yeast)
- Hops – 5 grams
- Cinnamon and nutmeg – 1 pinch
- Choosing honey. This is one of the most important steps which heavily affects the quality of the final product. Using fragrant types is the safest route. Buckwheat honey is a perfect pick but you can pick any other (for example, white honey). In spring many beekeepers offer fresh liquid honey, but if you don’t know much about beekeeping, you’d be better off withdrawing from the purchase. Otherwise, you’d be running a risk of buying a substitute made with sugar or just a low-quality honey. You can’t make a tasty homemade medovukha with such raw materials.
- Dissolving honey in water.Pour water in an enamel cooking pot and bring it to a boil. Add honey to the boiling water while stirring with a spoon. After 4-5 minutes of boiling, the honey mixture will start foaming. Gently remove the foam with a spoon.
Note. Honey is quick to burn and can catch fire. That’s why you should keep an eye on the pot for the duration.
- Adding flavoring agents. After you have removed the foam, add other ingredients: cinnamon, nutmegs, and hops. These will greatly enhance the taste of the final product. After thorough mixing, take the pot off the stove.
- Preparation for fermentation. Cool the mixture to 25-30°C (this is very important) and add diluted yeast. At higher temperatures the yeast will die and fermentation won’t start.Transfer the pot to a dark place with a temperature of about 25°C. If you don’t have any spare room, you can use a heater from a fish tank. In order to prevent any substances or insects from getting into the wort tie the pot with cheesecloth. After 1-2 days, you’ll start noticing the first signs of fermentation: the mixture will start foaming, and you’ll hear a hissing sound. Decant the contents into a fermentation vessel. Install an airlock or a medical glove with a punctured finger.
- Fermentation.Usually, fermentation of medovukha lasts for 4-6 days. You can tell that it has stopped if the glove is deflated or airlock is not bubbling. Another way of checking is to hold a lit match near the liquid surface—it shouldn’t go out. There’s nothing to be cautious about. The drink is just 5-10 degrees, and it won’t ignite.
- Filtrating and bottling. This is the final stage. Gently decant medovukha into a different container without sediment and then strain it through several layers of cheesecloth.
Bottle the prepared beverage (glass or plastic bottles). Seal the bottles and store in a fridge or cellar. Medovukha is a low alcohol drink, that’s why alcohol won’t interact with plastic.
Medovukha can be drunk almost right after the preparation, but aging it for 3-5 days allows for a better taste.
How to Make Carbonated Medovukha
- Wash the bottles very well and wipe them dry.
- Put ½ tsp of honey per 1 liter of drink at the bottom of each bottle. This will cause second fermentation, which will naturally carbonate your medovukha
- Bottle the drink, leaving 5-6 cm of free space. Seal the bottles.
- Transfer the containers for 7-10 days into a dark place with room temperature. Check the gas pressure and release some if need be.
- Leave the carbonated medovukha in a cool place for at least 5 days.
Medovukha without Yeast and Boiling
This is an ancient recipe, and its main advantage is that you don’t have to boil honey and use no yeast at all. The main shortcoming is that it requires at least 3-4 months to make a final product, which will be less strong by 2-4 degrees.
Since honey won’t ferment in cold water by itself, you need something to replace yeast. There are a few options: using cherries, raspberries, wild strawberries or raisins. Using cherries is a historically correct way, however, using raisins is a safer bet.
Medovukha with Cherries or Raisins Recipe
- Dissolve honey in cold water. The amount of ingredients depends on the chosen fermentation starter. When using raisins, take 1 liter of water, 80 grams of honey, and 50 grams of raisins. When using cherries (raspberries or wild strawberries), take 1 liter of water, 4 kilos of cherries, and 2 kilos of honey. Remove the stones from cherries and pour them over with a honey solution.
Note. Don’t wash raisins and cherries before adding them to medovukha, otherwise, you can accidentally wash away the wild yeast responsible for fermentation, and it will be difficult to predict the subsequent result.
- Tie the neck with cheesecloth and leave the container in a warm place. Fermentation will start after 1-2 days. Since we don’t use any yeast, it will require more time than in the first case.
- Upon noticing the signs of fermentation (see the 4th step of the first recipe) strain through several layers of cheesecloth, decant into another container and seal.
- Now all that is left to do is store the bottles in a fridge or cellar for aging. After 3-4 months you can try the final product. It will be carbonated and slightly sour. You will taste almost no alcohol, as it’s more like kvass.
Medovukha without yeast
P.S. Many people consider the recipe without yeast and boiling to be the right one. But this does not mean that the first option is not as tasty and healthful. Comparing the two and drawing your own conclusions is always a good idea.