Tag Archives: secondary fermentation

Flavor of the Day: Rooibos, Rose, Raspberry Leaf Jun

28 Jun
That's not a rose hip ... _this_ is a rose hip.

Rose hip (Photo credit: Zak Greant)


Raspberries: the leaf often gets overlooked, but that’s what I’m interested in for this recipe.  (Photo credit: Kodamakitty)


I should call this my flavor of the month, because it’s what I’ve been drinking the most of lately.  Rooibos definitely stands out flavor-wise in this mellow herbal concoction.

This recipe uses the Jun 101 basic brew instructions as its primary fermentation process.  You are NOT brewing Jun with rooibos tea.  Jun is always brewed with green tea and honey.   Once you finish the primary ferment, you can add whatever flavors you want to.  Bottling the Jun and leaving it out at room temperature for a while will create a secondary ferment.  This helps the flavors of the herbs to sink in, and allows the brew to build up some bubbles.

RRR Jun:

Add to a pint sized bottle with a sealable top:

1/2 t rooibos

1/2 t raspberry leaf

1/2 t rose hips

Pour your plain, already fermented Jun (see Jun 101 for details) over the herbs, seal the bottle and let sit for a day or two.  Strain your bottle into a glass as you drink it at room temp or chill in the refrigerator.


Rooibos, Aspalathus linearis (N.L.Burm.) R.Dah...

Rooibos, or African red bush. photo credit: Wikipedia.


About the Herbs:

Rose Hips are collected in the autumn.  They are the fruits of the Dog Rose. Rose hips are one of natures best sources of Vitamin C, and much of their medicinal value is because of the content of this nutrient.  They aid the body’s immune defenses, help with constipation, and with probelms of the gall bladder, kidneys, and bladder.

Raspberry Leaves are well known in my profession as a doula, because they are a womb herb.  When consumed regularly during pregnancy, they act as a tonic for the uterus.  I have heard some doubts as to the value of its use in the first trimester from prenatal students who were advised by their healthcare providers: particularly in people who have a high risk for miscarriage.  However, in my reading I have not seen it indictated as a uterine contractor, only a uterine strengthener.  I have also read that it helps to counteract morning sickness.  Raspberry leaf is particularly good to drink throughout the third trimester, in preparation for labor and even during labor.  Raspberry leaf also has astringent qualities.  It is good for diarrhea and other ‘loose’ conditions, as well as mouth sores, bleeding gums, or sore throats.  (sources:  Susun Weed’s  Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year and David Hoffman’s Holistic Herbal)

Rooibos, or african red bush tea is a popular drink these days for people who like drinking tea but don’t want caffeine.  My herb books actually don’t include rooibos as a medicinal herb, but it is apparently high in anti-oxidants.   Wikipedia claims that it helps with allergies, nervous tension and digestion.

Honey ferments: Jun and Mead

9 Oct

Jun just travelled again!  This time, congrats to faithful to Jesus in Kentucky on her new Jun adoption!

What is Jun?  It is a fermentation culture, very similar to Kombucha, that you make with honey instead of sugar.  I DON’T recommend ever using honey with your Kombucha SCOBY or with tibicos— honey contains lots of complicated stuff that can contaminate and kill your culture.  Somehow, Jun gets around this problem.  I figure she must be extra resilient to deal with the honey in the first place– surely the resulting SCOBYs are thick and robust, she seems to travel quite well, and the brew forms faster than kombucha.

In honor of fermenting with honey, I want to present one of my lastest batches of brew.  This one is a wild fermentation, which means no SCOBY is needed.  Wild fermentation depends on harvesting the yeasts that are already present in the surrounding air.  This is the third year in a row I have made a wild style mead.  My recipe is an adaptation on the “T’ej” recipe in Sandor Katz’s book, Wild Fermenation.

Wild Mead Recipe

In a large pot, combine 1 part raw honey to 4 parts water.   The honey to water ratio is not set in stone:  alter it to your taste.  I tend to start with a gallon of liquid.  Stir the mixture until it is homogenous– ala the honey has been dissolved into the water.  Let the mixture sit for a week or two, stirring it well a couple times per day.  After a few days, the mixture will start to bubble.   To help get the bubbling going and to flavor your brew, you can add fruit to the mix also.  Fruit tends to have some yeast coating on it, so the fruit serves as an extra way to innoculate the batch.   To my latest batch, shown below, I added apricots and dried hibiscus.  

Primary fermentation in a big pot, with apricots and hibiscus added.

Other flavorings I’ve tried have been:

1. nothing– just plain honey

2.  strawberries

3.  blackberries and sage leaves

Once it is bubbling super vigorously, you can decide when it is time to remove the fruit.  You can leave the fruit for up to a week.  When the bubbling starts to slow down a bit, it’s time for the secondary fermentation process— I left my last brew for two weeks.  At this point, you can try the wine as it is:  young mead is yummy, too!

Secondary fermentation:  Strain your brew as you put it into a carboy with an airlock.  A carboy is a narrow- necked bottle that’s just the right size to contain your liquid.  You can buy airlocks for a couple bucks from a brew-making supply store, of which there are many online.  I get mine from Brooklyn Kitchen.

If you don’t want to go out and get an airlock, a balloon set over the opening will do:  you just have to keep an eye on the balloon:  when it starts to fill with gas, it will need to be burped.  Apparently, my grandmother used to make wine this way.  She would keep it in a carboy in the bathtub, in case the fermentation got so fizzy that the brew bubbled over and made a mess.  Because of her balloon airlock, the resulting wine was always referred to as “balloon wine” in my family.

This picture shows the first bottle I used as a carboy.  I found this beautiful bottle at a discount store in the neighborhood, and I couldn’t resist using it.  The bottle came with a cork stopper that I screwed a hole through to insert the airlock.  What I did not realize at the time is that you are really supposed to fill any carboy up to the neck so as to minimize the liquid’s exposure to air.  That’s the whole point of the carboy!  Luckily, fermentation is a forgiving enough process that I still came out with something worth drinking.  This carboy was so large that I haven’t used it lately, since I don’t tend to make batches so huge:  I now stick to a gallon sized glass apple cider bottle.

The pretty, but too large, carboy.  It’s probably 5 gallons +.  For this batch,  I even added extra honey and water to fill the bottle more after my initial fermentation.

Once you have strained your slightly bubbling mixture into the carboy and set the airlock, let it sit for about a month.   At first, you will still see a generous amount of bubbles.  By the end of the month, not so many.  When bubbles have visibly subsided, it’s time to bottle the brew!  Collect screw top wine bottles in preparation of this step, or buy some stopper bottles, or get a corker and your own corks.

The best way to bottle your mead is by siphoning:  a process they call “racking.”  Siphoning the mead aerates it and gets rid of excess sediment.  I bought some plastic tubing from my nearby pet store in the aquarium section to use for this process.  Position the carboy up higher, like on a table, and your bottles down lower, like on the floor.  Put one end of your tubing in the full carboy, not touching the silt that’s formed at the bottom of the bottle, and use your mouth to suck the liquid into the tubing.  Once the brew starts to flow, quickly put the end of the tube into your empty bottles.  Pinch the tube or cover it with your finger as you transfer to the next bottle.  Be prepared to make a bit of a mess.  Finally, seal your bottles.

My racking siphon setup. I took this photo awkwardly during the process, while I was hunched over filling bottles on the floor.  Note, this is not my mead, but another brew I’ve yet to write about, blackberry wine. Stay tuned for that one!

Warning:  If you have not let the brew ferment long enough before bottling, you could be in for a bit of a surprise.  Last year after I bottled my blackberry-sage batch, I mysteriously found my corks on the floor two days later!  Pressure had built up in the bottles from the air created by the still bubbling brew, and the pressure was large enough to eject the corks.  Oops!

Each batch of mead I have made has been unique.  This is part of the adventure of a wild fermentation:  you are subject to the whims of the airborne yeasts in your brew-place.  Temperature certainly also plays a vital role, and since my kitchen is never air-conditioned, my temperatures have varied considerably.  If you find that once you’ve bottled a batch it’s still cloyingly sweet, you may want to let the brew age.  That happened with my strawberry batch:  it was very disappointing.  After my first bottle, I left the rest of the bottles in the back of the closet and forgot about them for most of a year.  When I came back to them:  surprise!  The aging process had created a wonderful wine!

Old Ways Herbal: Juliette Abigail Carr, RH (AHG)

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