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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Brazilian Pepper Tree honey
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:28 AM   #1
chuckjaxfl
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Default Brazilian Pepper Tree honey

I have very little experience with meads, yet. I've made some good cysers, that's about it. I've decided to give it a shot, though. A family friend is full time apiarist and harvests from hives all over Florida, and he's got a taste for good homebrew. I've asked for odd and unique stuff. He says he can tell where the bees were working inside the hive when they moved the hive from one site to another. He says you (he) can detect a change in the density, color & smell of the honey from plate to plate as he pulls them from the hive. If it's something really remarkable, he'll set that plate aside and extract it manually.

The first thing that he brought me is 10 pounds of Brazilian Pepper honey. For those unfamiliar, Brazilian pepper tree is not a food-bearing item. It's in the same family as poison ivy & oak. Although it was introduced intentionally, it has been classified as an invasive species now.

In any case, I've got 10 pounds of Brazilian Pepper Tree honey now. How do you think I should proceed? Does anyone have a recipe that would take advantage of this honey's uniqueness? Should I set it aside and work with more "normal" honeys for now, and come back to this one when I have a few batches under my belt?

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Old 01-26-2012, 03:27 PM   #2
truckjohn
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Let's clarify something... It's a common misconception down there in Florida that the Brazilian Pepper tree is poisonous and that the berries aren't edible.... (I grew up down in South Florida, and climbed all over those things, getting covered in the sticky, itchy sap...)

The berries are in fact edible... They are in fact the exact same "Pink Peppercorns" that are sold for such high prices in gourmet food stores.... I did a lot of research into this to convince myself that they weren't poisonous - being always told growing up that they were... and then I actually tried picking them fresh off the tree, tasting them raw, and finally seasoning food with them.... They taste like the commercial pink peppercorns - just more flavorful since they are fresh and ripe.... I wouldn't eat pounds of them (Neither would I eat pounds of black peppercorns...)

Anyway... That being said.. The first thing I would do is to check into whether they harvest honey from it in it's native region... Certain plants produce poisonous honey (Rhododendron/Azaleas being a famous example - and too much honey from one of these can be fatal)... Verify that the honey isn't poisonous... There's quite a bit of literature out there available to Bee keepers - Your bee keeper friend should be able to verify that it is not toxic...

Then... The 1st thing I would do is to mix a teaspoon of it with 5 or 10 teaspoons of water and taste it... What sort of flavors underlie the sweetness of the honey? Are there spicy overtones? Grassy/vegetable overtones? This will lead you in the direction you should take.... Watch out for Bitter overtones.. Bitter usually goes along with poisonous... If the honey is particularly bitter - you probably should just go ahead and reject it...

Otherwise - it sounds like a fun project. Keep us posted!

Thanks

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Old 01-26-2012, 05:08 PM   #3
WrathsU
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuckjaxfl View Post
I have very little experience with meads, yet. I've made some good cysers, that's about it. I've decided to give it a shot, though. A family friend is full time apiarist and harvests from hives all over Florida, and he's got a taste for good homebrew. I've asked for odd and unique stuff. He says he can tell where the bees were working inside the hive when they moved the hive from one site to another. He says you (he) can detect a change in the density, color & smell of the honey from plate to plate as he pulls them from the hive. If it's something really remarkable, he'll set that plate aside and extract it manually.

The first thing that he brought me is 10 pounds of Brazilian Pepper honey. For those unfamiliar, Brazilian pepper tree is not a food-bearing item. It's in the same family as poison ivy & oak. Although it was introduced intentionally, it has been classified as an invasive species now.

In any case, I've got 10 pounds of Brazilian Pepper Tree honey now. How do you think I should proceed? Does anyone have a recipe that would take advantage of this honey's uniqueness? Should I set it aside and work with more "normal" honeys for now, and come back to this one when I have a few batches under my belt?
My local apiary had a variety of honeys last time I went in and told them I wanted to make my first mead. The man who runs the place showed me the backroom where he had >10 meads going, and he frequently wins awards for his meads. I told him I wanted to make a strawberry-banana mead that would age well for a while. He recommended a gallon and a quart of the Brazilian Pepper honey, Lavilin K1-V1116, and following the strawberry pizzazz recipe at gotmead. I ended up adding 4lbs strawberry and 6lbs banana as the fruit. Not sure how it tastes yet (made beginning of this month), but hopefully it comes out good!
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