View Full Version : How big is a gallon and can you microwave honey??

12-31-2007, 10:27 PM
Hello all ... a couple of questions:

the JAO (and all others that I can see) refer to a "gallon" ... would that be a UK gallon or a US gallon?? I'm in a metric country and get everything in litres (like my new 5 litre carboy) so it would be good to know if 1 gallon was 3.8 litres (US gallon) or 4.5 litres (UK gallon).

Also, to heat the honey so that it can be poured / mixed easily everyone seems to be chucking it on the stove and heating it ... is it evil to put it in the microwave for a few seconds instead??

Lets just say "I have a friend" and he has just started his first batch of mead (JAO). He used a 5 litre glass carboy instead of a 1 gallon one and he microwaved his 1kg tubs of honey for about 50 seconds each to reduce their viscosity to make them easier to pour / mix. When he chucked all the stuff in the carboy he added a "bit extra" honey because of the whole gallon / litre thing but it wasn't exactly a scientific scaling of quantities (especially since he wasn't sure if he was starting with US or UK gallons).

On the upside, it seems to be bubbling away quite nicely, so I guess the only downside of stuffing the weight of honey is that it might end up a little drier than it should.



12-31-2007, 11:59 PM
I believe the recipe refers to a US gallon, it worked for myself and others that way. In response to heating the honey, unless you keep your honey fairly cool it should pour relatively easily at room temp. Usually, the heating referred to is the water first, then the honey is poured into the heated water. For me, I usually don't heat the water or the honey, pour as much as will easily pour from the bottle, then cap and invert the bottle and move on to the next bottle. After it's thoroughly mixed I move back to the first bottle and pour the rest into the must. Using bottled honey, I've gone through 4 bottles, say, and when finished I only have about a teaspoon left in each bottle after I'm done cleaning up. That's just enough to get a taste!

If you used the posted recipe to the letter including correct yeast, you may find that adding more honey will leave you with a very sweet mead rather than dry. The bread yeast will only take you so far, and with the recipe taken verbatim, the product is usually sweet anyway. So adding more honey will make the final product more so. In order to get a dry mead using bread yeast with basically no additional nutrient would require using less honey so as not to leave any unfermented honey in the mead.

Hope that helps

01-01-2008, 02:20 AM
I think the standard is US gallons (3.8 L). Actually I've never even thought about it, being in the US. :usa2:

I don't see anything horribly wrong with a quick stint in the microwave for your honey. Sometimes I place the honey in the oven (I have a gas pilot light, it's about 90F in there) to warm it a little. Honey will pour differently depending on the variety and the amount of processing it goes through. Keep it below 110F or so and there should be no noticeable different in the end product. You can also try a heat bath--place the honey container in warm water. Microwaves usually don't heat very evenly, so if you have an alternative it might be better.

01-01-2008, 02:42 AM
I'd recommend warming it in a water bath over using the "BOOM" microwave... think about it.

As far as amounts in metric goes, I'd go with "approximately" 1.5876 KG of honey per 3.7843 Liters. That would run an equivalent of about 3.5 lbs per US gallon. A litle more honey won't hurt, but I wouldn't go with much less than that. I've used that formula for JAO before and it all turned out just fine.

Hope that helps.

01-01-2008, 03:37 AM
Thanks for the feedback ... I guess I'll work on the assumption that they are US gallons from now on.

I'm a little concerned for my brew now that I think about it all a bit more :sad10: ... When I went to the homebrew supplier I simply asked for a 1 Gal. carboy. The proprietor muttered something about 4 litres then sold me the glass carboy I used for the brew. I suspect however that I've got a 5 litre carboy as that seems to be what other (online) shops are selling ... which means I have just about 1.7 or 1.8 kg of honey in 5 litres of water rather than 1.6 kg of honey in 3.8 litres of water. Mind you, I seem to have only used just over 4 litres of water (out of a 5 litre container I bought) so I might not be too badly off.

Ahh well, got to start somewhere. I guess I'll find out in about 7 weeks. Can't wait for "the textbook" to arrive :icon_study:

01-01-2008, 04:40 AM
Welcome to GotMead? jdgood!

Here's my take on the microwave thing:

If it isn't crystallized, I just pour my honey into my bucket until it stops pouring. That still leaves a thick coating in the jug though so I'll add some of my must (say a 1/4 cup or so, it doesn't take much) to the honey jug, swish it, and then nuke it for maybe 10 seconds. Give it a good swish again and then pour it into your must. If that doesn't get it all, I'll do it one more time. That will get almost all of the honey out. I don't think I've ever had to go beyond the second treatment to get the jug clean.

If my honey is crystallized, I usually nuke it in 15 or 30 second bursts until it's ready to flow. Do it in short bursts. Honey heats up REALLY quick in the microwave so be careful. Be sure to give a shake in between bursts to make sure the heat is evenly transfered.

I've done the water bath and yes, it's a superior method. It's more even and more controllable. But I also understand the "get it fermenting NOW!" mindset. Even though you know you're going to have to wait a month or two or six for the ferment to be done, you want to get it going NOW! (I'm soooooo guilty of this!)

The microwave is a valid tool if your are in a hurry. A water bath is better. I use both and haven't seen a noticable difference in flavor/aroma.

Welcome to the addiction!


01-01-2008, 11:12 PM
Well we all know the microwave works, from experience, and the knowledge that the microwave excites water molecules causing the substance to heat up. This does however cause uneven heating, and if you follow all the rumored believes of how bad microwaves are and how they kill nutrients, you might choose the bath instead. Especially if you are more of a "natural" brewing, depending on how serious you are, you might need all the nutrients you can get from the honey. I would say do the bath. And as for volumes, you always have to watch. Measurements always seem to jump between UK and US gallons. When it comes to metric persons like ourselves, it tends to get confusing. My advise is to just watch, and go for the UK gallon when in doubt, unless you would rather have it dry over sweet.

Hope my two cents are worth just that,