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Old 07-14-2011, 12:37 AM   #1
chemman14
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Default heat vs no heat must preperation

I have read The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm and am not quite sure which way I should go.
This will be my first batch of mead and I plan to use 12 lbs of honey for 5 gallons of mead. I am not sure about the preparation of the must. The book offers what seems like 3 different options. No heat with campden tablets, no heat without campden tablets, and heating to 160 for 10 minutes and then using IC to cool down (have IC from brewing).
I am curious what everyone else uses? It seems the heating would be the best way to make sure that the honey was well mixed and the must was sanitized but it says this may be at the cost of flavor and aroma.
thanks in advance



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Old 07-14-2011, 07:57 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chemman14 View Post
I have read The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm and am not quite sure which way I should go.
This will be my first batch of mead and I plan to use 12 lbs of honey for 5 gallons of mead. I am not sure about the preparation of the must. The book offers what seems like 3 different options. No heat with campden tablets, no heat without campden tablets, and heating to 160 for 10 minutes and then using IC to cool down (have IC from brewing).
I am curious what everyone else uses? It seems the heating would be the best way to make sure that the honey was well mixed and the must was sanitized but it says this may be at the cost of flavor and aroma.
thanks in advance
Sorry, that's absolute rubbish.

There might be a million and one reasons that you might heat a must (or just the honey), all with mostly dubious and/or pointless justification. If that was the case then we'd all be producing top quality meads with just cheapo store bought/supermarket honey.

But we don't do we.

Why ? because we select the honey for different reasons, a lot of them to do with the taste of the honey, possibly the colour of it as a second reason.

So why do you need to sanitise honey ? When it's already, factually, the most anti-bacterial, anti-fungal substance that nature has to offer in a single material ?

Heating it, drives off a lot of the finer aromatic compounds and seems to break down some of the finer flavouring compounds.

There's documentary evidence showing that sacrificial amounts of honey found in some of the ancient tombs in Egypt were still edible/safe to eat, even after something like 3000 years.

So why do you want to ruin it any further in the cause of "safety" ?

The only time I ever heat honey, is if it's crystalised and needs to be gently warmed in a bath of warm water to get it out the jar/bucket. If it runs out, even slightly, then I just either put the water/honey into a liquidiser and blitz it, which incorporates some air/O2 just nicely, or if it's more honey than a 1 gallon batch, then it's done in the same way but in a bucket with a hand blender (both devices are easily sanitised).

The only time you might need to think of something, is if the must i.e. water and honey, has been mixed and you have to leave it for any reasonable length of time (thinking more than a day here, as it should be fine inside a closed container that's been sanitised properly). The reason for that, is that pure honey is, as above i.e. harmful organisms can't live it in, but when it's been diluted down to fermentable levels, that's when some of the nasties can creep in and make mischief with it.

Hell, I don't even use champagne yeast unless I really have to, because (especially during the vigorous primary ferment period) it seems to blow a lot of those fine, more subtle aroma's and flavours straight out the airlock. Hence I select my yeasts on how they seem to make a better tasting/smelling result.

So, no heat.

Oh and if someone comes up with the crap about raw honey having some hive debris contaminating the honey, well those i.e. wax, propolys, bits of dead bee, etc etc, will settle out into the sediment or are removed during racking processes. If the mead is made to a minimum of a wine strength, then as honey it's safe, as mead it's safe, so you only need to apply appropriate technique/method during the making to keep it safe during that phase as well.

either way, it's up to you. Though I still say why take an excellent, wonderful tasting honey and heat it, so you end up with some mediocre rubbish that you could have got from the nearest store at half the price......

regards

fatbloke

p.s. Oh and most recipes that suggest heating etc, are derived from a time when we didn't know any better. We do now, so why not benefit from the newer/more up to date knowledge ?


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Old 07-14-2011, 11:15 AM   #3
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I don't heat the must or the honey other than using a little hot tap water to get the last little bit of honey out of the bucket. As far as getting the honey mixed/dissolved, I use a blender. It takes a little longer, but I like to think this preserves the honey flavour more than any other method; it also super areates the must prior to yeast pitch.
That's my 2 cents worth. Regards, GF.

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Old 07-14-2011, 11:55 AM   #4
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I've so far only heated my honey once (last batch done, jaom), because my honey had solidified. I put it on the hob with a little water added (to reduce amount of heating required) and only heated for a few seconds at a time in order to get it to a pourable level.
It still has crystals and it wasn't giving off any honey smells so I think I got it about right.

The only other excuse I've seen for heating up honey is for making a Brochet, though at your own risk... seems most people attempting it end up burnt or attacked by bees...

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Old 07-14-2011, 01:03 PM   #5
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The only way that I heat my honey is by adding it to the water that I warm to 95*-100*F, but never over 100*F. And when I add the honey it drops the temp very fast. I do this to get the honey to mix beter and more completely. I’m not sure if this is necessary or not, but I’m a noob, and in my extremely limited experience, it makes the fermentation more consistant… But I could be very wrong here…

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Old 07-14-2011, 03:21 PM   #6
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ok, I was also worried about the crystallization as one of my 3lb jars has a bit of it. Will use hot water to loosen that cant wait to make my first batch. Would this be ok in a 5 gal carboy? or do I need to use a larger fermenter

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Old 07-14-2011, 04:28 PM   #7
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no heat needed.

Also you can produce stellar mead with store bought honey.

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Old 07-14-2011, 04:37 PM   #8
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I've only done a couple of batches myself. I heated the honey to get it to mix in nicely, not really too worried about sterilizing it, but then ended up having the must be too warm when I wanted to pitch. I probably won't do it on my next batch or use a smaller amount of water if I do.

Once I did the research on it, this seemed like one of those items not to sweat. There are probably pluses and minuses to each technique, but this was not an issue that was high on my worry list. Also, I foolishly use store bought honey, so take my thoughts for what they're worth!

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Old 07-14-2011, 07:35 PM   #9
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no heat needed.

Also you can produce stellar mead with store bought honey.
Yes, indeed you can. I try to avoid it though, because some of it is blended with Eucalyptus honey from Aus, which tastes great on buttered toast, but I don't enjoy the flavour of it in meads.

As for those who're worried about crystalisation, if they dig the honey out the jar/bucket with a spoon, then put it into a liquidiser with some of the water, blitzing it not only aerates it but also suspends the honey in the water and dissolves a lot of the crystals anyway. If I do decide to warm it, I just use a sink full of hand hot water, then keep checking to see if it's moving or not, plus putting more warm water in if it cools.

It usually takes a hour or two....... minimum heat and all that.....
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:14 PM   #10
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Here is the honey I am working with. The two on the right are grade fancy with clover written on the label, the other 4 are grade standard with no type written on the lable.

the grade fancy ones have a bit of crystallisation as you can see in the picture. I plan to use two grade fancy and two of the grade standard for 12 lbs total.



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