Pasteurizing finished wild mead?

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sicko

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Hi y'all, new to the forums but glad to be here!

So I've been very into wild mead making - complete with wild ginger bug yeast starter, raw honey, fruits, etc... I've bottled off my first ~1 gal wild mead in a few swing top bottles and they've been sitting in my fridge. Actually only 1 remains, as the other few were given away and/or drank early on.

With this last bottle, I'm wondering if the right thing to do is to pasteurize it? I'm hoping to keep it for a while in the fridge but unsure of how long I can actually store wild mead for? I wonder if wild mead is more prone to spoiling? I also wonder if pasteurizing a finished wild mead product is even something anyone should consider?

Would love any advice!

Thanks!!
 

Miraculix

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If it finished fermenting and is sealed air tight, it will last forever. Pasteurisation is usually done to stop fermentation and to retain a residual sweetness that otherwise would be consumed by the yeast.
 

wildmazer

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yup. i’ve been making all-wild yeasted mead since 2011, it stores just fine on it’s own. as long as the alcohol level is high enough to kill other wild bugs, you should be fine.
 

madscientist451

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yup. i’ve been making all-wild yeasted mead since 2011, it stores just fine on it’s own. as long as the alcohol level is high enough to kill other wild bugs, you should be fine.
My experience with wild ferments is that the yeast dies off at a lower alcohol level than a typical wine yeast would. But, I have stored (forgotten about) wild yeast ciders and meads and found that they are fine.
My advice to the OP: if it tastes good now, why risk it? Go ahead and enjoy it and make some more.
 

bernardsmith

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and... if you like the mead the indigenous yeast created you can harvest them from the sediment (the lees) and repitch to make a second batch. The second batch may not be identical to the first even if every ingredient was a perfect clone of the first because the yeast you harvest may have adapted over a few reproductive cycles to the finished product rather than the starting product and you may have more yeast cells that are better suited to alcohol at current levels as a percentage of the total population of viable cells than you would have had a few minutes after fermentation had begun
 
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sicko

sicko

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yup. i’ve been making all-wild yeasted mead since 2011, it stores just fine on it’s own. as long as the alcohol level is high enough to kill other wild bugs, you should be fine.
What is the minimum alcohol level it needs to be to kill off the other wild bugs??

Also, that's amazing. I hope to follow your footsteps. Looking to be an all-wild yeast mead maker as well, you're an inspiration
 
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sicko

sicko

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My experience with wild ferments is that the yeast dies off at a lower alcohol level than a typical wine yeast would. But, I have stored (forgotten about) wild yeast ciders and meads and found that they are fine.
My advice to the OP: if it tastes good now, why risk it? Go ahead and enjoy it and make some more.
It's true! But I definitely have this odd personal enjoyment of leaving something for a long time and coming back to it. E.g. other hobby is film photography. I take the photographs, leave the film for a long time & come back to it -- only to enjoy it way more than if I'd had developed it instantly.

I'm starting to find there are parallels with mead making!
 

wildmazer

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i know the common wisdom is that a wild yeast will die off at a lower alcohol level, but 9 out of 10 times, my meads go dry at full wine-strength (12-14%). i do a bit of ‘training’ with my bugs, though, to get them to withstand higher sugar and alcohol levels.

also, aging almost always makes mead better. yes, it’s possible to make a mead that’s nice, or ‘good enough’ at bottling time, but that feels like setting the bar too low to me. i don’t know where the line is, above which the ‘bad bugs’ don’t grow - i assume it’s somewhere near a normal beer strength, but low alcohol hydromel-type meads have never appealed to me.

thanks for the kind words, sicko!
 
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sicko

sicko

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i know the common wisdom is that a wild yeast will die off at a lower alcohol level, but 9 out of 10 times, my meads go dry at full wine-strength (12-14%). i do a bit of ‘training’ with my bugs, though, to get them to withstand higher sugar and alcohol levels.

also, aging almost always makes mead better. yes, it’s possible to make a mead that’s nice, or ‘good enough’ at bottling time, but that feels like setting the bar too low to me. i don’t know where the line is, above which the ‘bad bugs’ don’t grow - i assume it’s somewhere near a normal beer strength, but low alcohol hydromel-type meads have never appealed to me.

thanks for the kind words, sicko!

Wow interesting..... what do you mean by "training". I'd love to understand this more
 

wildmazer

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well, training is actually a totally inaccurate word for what’s really going on, but kind of works if you think of a yeast bug as a single organism, which of course it isn’t. also, it should be said that ymmv, but this technique has worked really well for me for years. of 90+ batches, only two didn’t end well, and those ones contained some very non-standard experimental fermentables.

the idea is that when you first catch yeast in a bug, you start with relatively low amounts of sugar in solution - i usually start with 2tsp of honey in a cup of water. what you’ve got once it starts showing signs of activity- and especially if you’ve used varied potential sources of yeast in its making - is a mixed colony of several (or many) different strains of yeast, that each have different tolerances. the bigger the mix, the better. then, you add more sugar (or honey) and yeast-bearing ingredients and aerate, and periodically taste the bug. as it gets less sweet, you know it’s time to add more sugar and you keep track of how much sugar you add, trying to end up with the total sugar added being around the level that you want your must OG to be when you pitch the bug in. as you add sugar and as the alcohol level in the bug goes up, you’re selecting for yeasts that can handle more and more extreme environments.

the caveat is that you never actually have the bug at full ‘OG’ sugar level since sugars are being consumed as you go, and with an open bug, alcohol that’s being made is also likely being made into vinegar by other organisms that are present. But while you’re not fully exposing your yeast to the extremes of high sugar of an ‘OG’ situation or the high alcohol of an ‘FG’ situation, it’s definitely worked well enough to be codified in my brain as i’ve just typed it!
 
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sicko

sicko

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well, training is actually a totally inaccurate word for what’s really going on, but kind of works if you think of a yeast bug as a single organism, which of course it isn’t. also, it should be said that ymmv, but this technique has worked really well for me for years. of 90+ batches, only two didn’t end well, and those ones contained some very non-standard experimental fermentables.

the idea is that when you first catch yeast in a bug, you start with relatively low amounts of sugar in solution - i usually start with 2tsp of honey in a cup of water. what you’ve got once it starts showing signs of activity- and especially if you’ve used varied potential sources of yeast in its making - is a mixed colony of several (or many) different strains of yeast, that each have different tolerances. the bigger the mix, the better. then, you add more sugar (or honey) and yeast-bearing ingredients and aerate, and periodically taste the bug. as it gets less sweet, you know it’s time to add more sugar and you keep track of how much sugar you add, trying to end up with the total sugar added being around the level that you want your must OG to be when you pitch the bug in. as you add sugar and as the alcohol level in the bug goes up, you’re selecting for yeasts that can handle more and more extreme environments.

the caveat is that you never actually have the bug at full ‘OG’ sugar level since sugars are being consumed as you go, and with an open bug, alcohol that’s being made is also likely being made into vinegar by other organisms that are present. But while you’re not fully exposing your yeast to the extremes of high sugar of an ‘OG’ situation or the high alcohol of an ‘FG’ situation, it’s definitely worked well enough to be codified in my brain as i’ve just typed it!
This is freaking amazing advice, I am most definitely going to try this.

A few questions, just so I have things clear:

1) What do you use as 'varied potential sources of yeast'? So far I'm mostly using organic gingers and organic grapes...
2) Are you taking hydro readings of your yeast starter? Or just assuming that as long as its active and eating, it's becoming more tolerant?
3) Do you use nutrients at all with your wild yeasts? I'm trying to figure out how much I can get away with without adding additional anything... outside of the water, honey, yeast starter & fruit combination.

Thanks sooo much
 

wildmazer

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1) organic ginger and fresh organic turmeric roots are the all-season mainstay. there are actually a few fungicides that are certified for organic use on grapes and other ‘small fruit’, so i try to avoid the store-bought varieties (note: i mean for culturing yeast, i do eat the stuff). beyond that, i live in a rural area with a lot of options. i don’t really want to make a full list but in their own seasons, there are at least a dozen kinds of fruit and nearly as many flowers that have all worked well. i’m not sure what i’d do in an urban environment, but fruits and flowers from neighbors yards might be an idea (ask first, obviously). and maybe field trips to farms, nature preserves, etc. i don’t think i said it clearly before, but i add yeast-bearing stuff every time i feed the bug sugar. increasing the amount and diversity of the yeast in the bug should only help.
2) i don’t take gravity readings before making the main must, but i add close to the same amount of honey every time feeding the bug, so i can do the math loosely if i want to. i know the total amount to add to get it to be in line with where i want the must OG to be. not super-exact but pretty close. it does mean starting with a known amount of water.
3) i do add nutrients unless i’m using a large amount of actual fruit in primary. the final product is just noticeably better with good yeast nutrition.

hope it works for you!
 
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