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Old 12-09-2012, 07:49 PM   #1
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Default Bochet - Caramelizing Honey

I have read the 50 pages of making Bochet on this list, very fun reading. I have not made this mead yet but it is now on my list, especially since I now have my own bee hives and hope to have extra honey.

1) I would like to offer another possible way to carmalize honey. We used to make milk caramel by boiling a unopened can of sweetened concentrated milk, taking hours and having to make sure the can was always underwater. I thought about that for a while and decided a pressure cooker would do all the work for me. I tried it and it worked very well. I think we can take honey in quart mason jars with canning lids, put them inside a big pressure cooker and carmalize the honey. A lot safer than using a stovetop, no mess to clean up, you wont catch anything on fire and if you make an extra quart or two you can save it to backsweeten your mead or to put on your icecream.

2) Cheap honey probably has high fructose corn syrup in it, so you are carmalizing sugar and not really honey. Better to make sure you use real honey from a local beekeeper. You also probably dont know where your cheap honey came from, it could be one of those countries that has been adding melamine to thier baby formula and pet food.

3) The glucose/fructose ratio could be important in how the honey carmalizes, a higher glucose honey variety would likely carmalize faster and have more carmalized flavor than a low glucose honey. Honey that crystalizes quickly like clover and alfalfa would be good choice for Bochets.

4) High starting gravity over 1.120 seems to cause a lot of problems for mead makers. We like to start at 1.10 and if we want higher alcohol levels feed more honey into the must to increase it 0.01 each step. The fermentation rages early and eats the extra honey easily. Much more control of where the mead stops on the gravity scale than having it stall before you want it to stop. The reason I mention this is that after carmalizing, are yeast able to eat the carmalized glucose? Maybe they are just eating the uncarmalized fructose? If so then our alcohol levels are not what would be predicted from the hydrometer readings?

WVMJ

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Old 12-09-2012, 10:20 PM   #2
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Nice post.....

Whether you'd get any flavour pollution from the seals on the jars if they get pressure cooked is one question that came to mind.

Plus your alluding to the well documented cases of "fake" honey in the US? Well I have no idea of how widespread this may be, but here I've only heard of 1 case like that and that wasn't particularly hidden. Just that the local trading standards people found some "honey" with added syrup - their testing showed it to be 100% sugar syrup (HFCS isn't that easy to find in smaller quantities and there isn't so much honey from China available here). The importer got busted, so I dont believe its so much of an issue.

Point three I haven't really considered as bochet is still on my "to do" list.

But I'm in agreement with point 4. A lot of people seem to think (wrongly) that they can just add stupidly high amounts of honey and it should just "work". Then seem surprised when they have problems.

I've got a couple of opinions as to why people try this, whether I'm right or wrong doesn't matter. As I routinely just start my brews at about the 1.100 to 1.110 area and either step feed or back sweeten to get them how I want them......

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Old 12-09-2012, 10:50 PM   #3
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Hi FB, the seals on the jars are food grade, designed for canning and will not add any taste, we use them for tomatoes which are a lot more corrosive than honey. Our beekeeping magazines have monthly reports of honey that really isnt honey coming over here, untrafinefiltered to remove all the pollen so its source cant be traced, shipped through other countries to hide its source etc. You live on a tiny little island, you dont import as much junk as we do I am finding that if I backsweeten to where I want with honey before bottling, and fining with bentonite or bentogran all the protein haze from the added honey is removed and its exactly where I want it to be sweetnesswise and we dont have to monky around with it a lot to make it "right". WVMJ

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Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
Nice post.....

Whether you'd get any flavour pollution from the seals on the jars if they get pressure cooked is one question that came to mind.

Plus your alluding to the well documented cases of "fake" honey in the US? Well I have no idea of how widespread this may be, but here I've only heard of 1 case like that and that wasn't particularly hidden. Just that the local trading standards people found some "honey" with added syrup - their testing showed it to be 100% sugar syrup (HFCS isn't that easy to find in smaller quantities and there isn't so much honey from China available here). The importer got busted, so I dont believe its so much of an issue.

Point three I haven't really considered as bochet is still on my "to do" list.

But I'm in agreement with point 4. A lot of people seem to think (wrongly) that they can just add stupidly high amounts of honey and it should just "work". Then seem surprised when they have problems.

I've got a couple of opinions as to why people try this, whether I'm right or wrong doesn't matter. As I routinely just start my brews at about the 1.100 to 1.110 area and either step feed or back sweeten to get them how I want them......
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WVMJ View Post

1) I would like to offer another possible way to carmalize honey. We used to make milk caramel by boiling a unopened can of sweetened concentrated milk, taking hours and having to make sure the can was always underwater. I thought about that for a while and decided a pressure cooker would do all the work for me. I tried it and it worked very well. I think we can take honey in quart mason jars with canning lids, put them inside a big pressure cooker and carmalize the honey. A lot safer than using a stovetop, no mess to clean up, you wont catch anything on fire and if you make an extra quart or two you can save it to backsweeten your mead or to put on your icecream.

WVMJ
I would be very interested to read specific instructions / results of this method. I've been thinking "Bochet" for a couple years now, but it seems like such a pain that I've never done it. Would love to find an easier way.
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:40 PM   #5
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I suspect that the jars etc would be a bit different here. After all, it's not just the actual types of honey etc that are rather limited here.

So much of the kit I see advertised is aimed at the US market, which after all, would be at least 5 times the size of the UK market.

It'd be hard to be able to confirm that the jar seals would stand up to a pressure cooker here. Everything seems to be like some military f*****g secret.

When I get round to trying a bochet I'm likely gonna have to just do a 1 gallon batch anyway, so I'd just use a jam/jelly pan and "burn" something like 5lb so I've got enough to make the brew and possibly some left over for a back sweetening (as I like to use the same honey to back sweeten as I have for the brew if possible).

I've also got into the habit of back sweetening to somewhere between 1.010 and 1.015 as that's generally where I like my meads, but I do that after I've done the first racking. that way I only have to clear the batch the once and if I'm lucky enough, any protein hazing drops out naturally with the remaining sediment. Yet if it turns out that the batch drops a sediment and doesn't clear, I'm happy hitting it with fining agents before putting it away to bulk age or bottling....

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Old 12-10-2012, 05:29 AM   #6
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I find it's just as easy to dump all of my honey into my brew kettle and caramelize the sugars like that, since once I'm done I add water and mix to my target gravity before I drain into a carboy. Just one less piece of equipment I'm using. Also, I'm constantly checking the progress on how far the honey has caramelized by it's color, so I'm taking samples every 15 minutes while the heat is on and lets me get it right to where I want it. Doing it in sealed jars is just kind of taking a shot in the dark to get it to where you want it.

Plus, I like making my house smell like honey for 2 days and watching all the bees go apesh!t at my kitchen window screen.

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Old 12-10-2012, 07:11 AM   #7
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Used the Pressure Cooker today, honey in quart canning jars, 15 pound controller, 90 minutes, Locust Honey, tastes very nicely of caramalized sugars, beautiful mahogany color in primary. Picture of raw honey and carmalized honey in jars.

Started in primary 12.10.12
3 quarts of carmalized honey
another cup uncarmalized honey to raise SG to 1.10
superferment
Fermocel P
Tannin
15 gram toasted oak
K1-V1116 yeast

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Old 12-11-2012, 12:14 AM   #8
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I am going to have to try that. It never occurred to me to put it sealed into a pressure cooker. Can you do more than one quart at a time if you've got a canning pressure cooker? This would be awesome.
Going to check back and see how this turns out.

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Old 12-11-2012, 03:36 PM   #9
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Our canner holds 8 quarts, if any leaks out of the jars just strain it and dump it into the primary. Since it still has moisture in it the honey remained liquid after it cooled some, I didnt cool it all the way to room temp as I just dumped it into the primary bucket. The must smells like caramel. WVMJ

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Old 12-19-2012, 03:37 PM   #10
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Interesting!

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