History of Greek Food

NOTHING DIFFICULT ABOUT HYDROMELI. (Except that you have to wait more than a year to taste it.)

But yesterday I finally opened a bottle of my own hydromeli.



The drink which was called hydromeli (water- honey) by the Greeks and aquamulsum by the Romans is found in many cultures throughout history, and is also known as mead.
It can be regarded as the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man and the simplest one.

Hydromeli preceded the wine in Greece for a long time. The Orphists in one of their favored poetic version of the stories of the Gods, describe the cruelty of Zeus who castrated his father Kronos when he was drunk on honey of wild bees. Of course Kronos could never drunk on honey but he could drunk on hydromeli.

I made the hydromeli using the honey of melomeli (quinces in honey), according to the instructions given by the Greek physician Dioscorides.
Thus, I had to make the melomeli first.

Materia Medica de Dioscorides, Iraq, Ecole de Bagdad

“ And Melomeli, which also is called Cydonomeli (Quince honey) is made as follows. The quinces with their seeds removed, are put into good store of honey, so that they are covered. This becomes good after a year, being like mulsum (honey wine). […] (De materia medica)” 29.


I used thyme honey and 2 large quinces.

Then, it was time for the hydromeli, which was the simplicity itself.

‘Hydromelon is made as follows: one metretes (apr. 8.6696 gallons) of melomeli of quinces is mixed with 2 metretes (eighteen) of boiled water and sunned in the days under the Dog star (from the beginning of July to the beginning of September). […] (Dioscorides 30)

I mixed 500 gr. quince -honey with 1 kg boiled water and I left the mixture under the summer sun. After 40 days I had  a very drinkable sparkling hydromeli.

As for the two quinces, I made a honey-sweet jam with them, so autumnal in taste.

Both hydromeli and melomeli are recommended by Dioscorides for treating the stomach ache, dysentery, liver ailments, kidney disorders, and painful frequent urination.

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10 thoughts on “NOTHING DIFFICULT ABOUT HYDROMELI. (Except that you have to wait more than a year to taste it.)

  1. admin Post author

    T. Noodle, Oh yes, I’ve enjoyed hydromeli. There is such excitement recreating ancient foods and drinks through experiment and practice that it’s worth the wait!

    Rachel, Make both stuffed quinces and hydromeli!:)

  2. admin Post author

    James, In fact I was a little bit worried about how the fermentation process would affect the flavor. But the result was very good; hydromeli smells great and it’s taste is wonderful! Not dry neither sweet and gently sparkling.

  3. Tangled Noodle

    What I wouldn’t do for just a sip! I am definitely a [sad] product of our times: I don’t know if I have enough patience to make this. And yet, there is a direct correlation between amount of time and effort expended and the intensity of satisfaction and enjoyment of the finished product. You must have enjoyed your hydromeli tremendously!

  4. James

    How good does this look! I’d be scared to open it – it would have to be rationed!

    Tasted mead for the first time just last year – don’t know what kept me. That was from a small local farm. Of course making your own like this would be amazing.

  5. admin Post author

    Maria, thanks! 🙂

    Karen, it is delicious, though I didn’t control the fermentation, so I had the fear that I had created a bomb!

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