Beltane is about honouring life. All around you there are signs of abundant fertility. Beltane is the place between the fullnesses of spring and summer, where possibilities are sparked and conception happens. Heiros Gamos, the sacred union of Earth and Sky is celebrated. Bees pollinate flowers so fruit can be harvested throughout the remaining agricultural season. Creative ideas transition into the steps of becoming something real. All around us life is coming into being.
Because of this connection between bees, flowers and honey, I have often wondered about making mead jelly and I got a lovely opportunity to give it a go when friends cleaned out the back of the closet the other day and opted to send this bottle my way. I admit, I felt a little guilty about using a limited edition vintage on my first try but went ahead anyway.
1 750 ml bottle of mead
1 package of pectin
1 cup honey
3 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. butter
How would you like the energy of conception to be active in your life? As you turn your thoughts way from the mundane and come into this present sacred moment, allow your answer to bubble to the surface. Another child, a new business, an addition to the house, a change in job, a special trip, a skill learned, time off or a truer self? What adventures will you take off the shelf and bring to life? Close your eyes as you wash your hands, relax into your vision. Open your heart, invite the compassionate spirits to support you and begin. You prepare so much for others. This one is for you.
Exploring the back of my closet I found a package of Sure-Jell, also as it happens from the same people who gifted me the mead. This is a new pectin for me and as every product is a little different, you don’t really know what you have until you try it out.
What’s a girl to do? I carried on.
I had added the honey into the pot as it has crystalized and needed to be heated to reliquify. I reasoned that, hopefully, substitute sugars meant, low calorie alternatives and since honey was not such a product things might be okay.
I also added the sugar and lemon juice and brought the mixture to a boil.
My grandmother always added butter to her jellies after that had cooked as a way to help the bubbles burst. The instructions on the package said to add it now. Since I had already gone off on my own once, I followed the directions.
Stir well and bring the mixture back to a boil.
Boil for one minute exactly and then take off the heat and bottle.
From one bottle of mead, I finished up with five jars of jelly.
Here though are some additional tips.
Before starting prepare your water bath so that it is ready to process the bottles once they are filled.
If using lids that have a sealing ring inside and not separate, boil the lids for three minutes, then remove from the water and close immediately.
Make sure your clean jars are hot before filling by putting them in an oven at 250F degrees for at least 20 minutes. This will stop breakage by bringing the temperature of the glass and the jelly closer together.
Skim off any extra bubbles on top before transferring to jars. This also allows the jelly to cool a bit bringing the temperature of the glass and the jelly closer together. ( Didn’t I just write that somewhere?)
Make sure your rims are clean before putting the lid on.
I added lemon juice because many jam/jelly recipes call for it when fruits are low in natural pectin. I reasoned mead would qualify.
Process the jars for 10 minutes in your hot water bath and then allow to cool for 24 hours without moving to allow for a proper seal.
Label with name and date. If you have not come across this option before, these are Avery labels. They are available from many stationary stores. You can go to their website, put in the code for the label product you purchased and create your own labels. For gift giving, it is great way to step up your presentation. Calligraphy is not in my wheelhouse so these work great for me.
I am including this information here as mead is also known as Brew of the Divine. Being made from honey, it becomes perfect for a love ceremony such as a handfasting ( something very popular at Beltane) and could quite appropriately be used as gifts for the attendees.
This is grown up jelly. It goes well on a cheeseboard and as a garnish on appetizers. I have also seen pictures of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made with mead jelly. Have not tired it myself so please take this as a option not a recommendation. I intend to try it out on half a sandwich, sometime soon, as I now have access to mead jelly.
Mead is the honey in honeymoon. It is a traditional handfasting gift, from a time when newly handfasted couples were given a keg of mead to help relax the “getting to know you” process. The moon part comes from the lunar cycle they would be allowed to step back from community life, while discovering each other.
Mead comes in many flavours so this kind of jelly is always going to taste different from batch to batch. It is also possible to flavour batches with spices, fruits and flowers but that is for another day. For now, I am grateful that everything jelled just fine and am pondering wines, chai, mochas…………………..