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Polish Mead - Slow Food Presidia
 

Polish Mead

Poland

Mead, along with vodka, was once prepared in all Polish homes. Today, few producers remain, and only one mead maker in all Poland still uses the traditional recipe. This producer, Maciej Jaros, is a giant of a man with huge hands, blue eyes, and a droopy handlebar mustache. Jaros lives a few kilometers from Warsaw and has made mead commercially in his family business ever since the Polish government removed the ban on small private enterprise in 1991.
In his small workshop, Jaros keeps an apiary of thirty hives that produce a dark yellow and aromatic honey, and he believes that the best honeys for mead are heather or fir. “If you don’t know how to make honey, you cannot make mead,” explains Jaros. “You have to know your materials to make the finest mead.” Many types of mead exist, varying in quality according to the proportion of honey to water—from one part honey to three parts water, to two parts honey to one part water. The latter version, called pultorak, is the most precious. The more honey used to make the mead, the longer it can be aged. The minimum aging time is four to five years, but bottles aged 15 and even 20 years still exist.
The preparation of Polish Mead begins by boiling honey and water mixed with local herbs. The mixture is then fermented and aged in large stainless steel barrels. Some varieties of Polish Mead are traditionally flavored with raspberry, apple, or grape juice.
The authentic recipe for Polish Mead has been saved by generations of artisans and was given to Jaros by his mother, one of the few people still alive who knew how to achieve the exact balance between flavor and aroma. Traditionally, women always produced the mead, while men were responsible for the apiaries.
The hand-made ceramic bottles in which Polish Mead is sold are also characteristic of the product. Glass was often too expensive for poor families, and they baked their own jug-like bottles in small kilns.


Producer Maciej Jaros makes the honey from which his mead is made, the mead itself and even the clay vessels in which the mead is bottled. His mead is completely different from the industrial versions that can now be found everywhere on the Polish market: young and tasteless compensated for with artificial aromas. To make quality mead, it is critical to begin with good ingredients and ample time as the product needs to age six or seven years before sale — a prospect that often scares away the younger generation of mead producers.
The Presidium was created to promote and develop authentic Polish mead and to guarantee that the product is sold at a fair price on the market. Only then will producers overcome their fear of the initial investment and revive this ancient product. It is presently distributed by Stawski Imports, Chicago - www.stawskidistributing.com.

Production area: around Lodz
One family of artisans

Jaros Maciej
Lazisko 46
97-200 Tomaszów Mazowiecki
Tel. +48 447244073
jaros@pasiekajaros.pl
Presidium Coordinator
Jacek Szklarek
tel. +48-12-6366692
fax +48-12-6366692
jacek.szklarek@slowfood.pl

 


 
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