Prior to starting the batch, set the honey containers in a sink with hot water to warm and loosen the honey; doing this makes it easier to pour the honey.
Add one gallon of apple cider to a large pot and heat slowly to a simmer. As the cider is heating, add loose spices to the pot. Simmer spices and cider for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pour spice cider into the fermentation bucket. Add all of the honey to the bucket. Heat additional quart of cider in a glass container in the microwave. Pour the warm cider into each of the honey containers and shake to dissolve the remaining honey, adding this to the bucket.
Using the large spoon or wine degasser, mix the must until the honey is completely dissolved. Add the remainder of the cider (4 3/4 gallons) to the bucket while stirring.
Stir vigorously to aerate the must.
Take an original gravity (OG) and a temperature reading.
Re-hydrate the dry yeast, if you have not already done so, following the instructions on the packages. Once the yeast has been re-hydrated, make sure the must is between 60-80 F, pitch the yeast and stir well. Attach the lid and fermentation lock, and add liquid to the fermentation lock. Fermentation should begin within 24 hours.
Add yeast nutrients about 2 days after pitching yeast. Stir yeast nutrients into the solution. Fermentation is best when kept between 65-75 F. The primary fermentation will last about 4 weeks.
When the activity in the airlock has pretty much stopped, indicating the primary fermentation is complete, rack to a secondary fermenter (preferably glass). Attach a fermentation lock to the carboy and leave at 65-75 F for 4 weeks.
After 4 weeks, rack to another carboy for aging and clarification. Check the mead at this time for sweetness. If more sweetness is needed, add honey or apple juice concentrate (frozen or canned- not diluted) until you get the desired sweetness. To do this, add 1 lb of honey to 1 cup of hot water or apple juice concentrate at time of racking. You may want to add some potassium sorbate to inhibit any further fermentation.
*Recipe Courtesy of the American Homebrewers Association