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Luko
08-05-2010, 08:30 PM
Heya all,

Has anyone tried making a batch using the honey from SAMS? It's branded Bakers and Chefs Pure Clover Honey.

Thanks!

d.j.patterson
08-05-2010, 08:51 PM
I have used it in a melomel, but I was using almost 5 lbs of fruit/gallon. It does not have much flavor by itself, but if you are planning a super fruity mel, your may not notice that the honey is of lower quality.

PitBull
08-06-2010, 10:28 PM
Heya all,

Has anyone tried making a batch using the honey from SAMS? It's branded Bakers and Chefs Pure Clover Honey.

Thanks!
I was at Sam's Club recently and their brand of honey is almost $12 for 5 pounds, about $2.40/lb. If you look at their honey label, its sources are from all over the world, and most likely highly processed. It probably would be okay for a melomel or metheglin. But is "okay" really okay with you? If you're planning a traditional mead, you would probably be better off paying only slightly more for a local varietal (single source) honey.

crimsondrac
08-10-2010, 05:16 PM
Hmm...I have used honey from Walmart, which I am sure is the same honey sold at Sams. No where on the label does it say where the honey is from. I would be interested to see what label you are reading that shows it is honey from all over the world? I am not doubting your claim, I just can not see it on any of the containers I read.

From what I can tell, the honey from walmart is pure, unpasturized honey. Short of being filtered to remove particulates, I do not think this honey has been processed in anyway. By saying "most likely" you are assuming it is processed but have no proof. You are simply assuming because it is a large chain store brand so they must process it.

While I am no honey connissuer, the Walmart honey tastes just as good as any other clover honey. And what exactly do you mean by "lower quality"? Are the bees that make Walmart/Sam's honey more lazy then the other bees so they do not put as much effort into making their honey? Do they make it out of cheaper flowers or collect pollen from the 'bad' side of the tracks? Honey is Honey. There are varying tastes depending on where the bees get their nectar, but unless Walmart is cutting their honey with syrup or sugar water, there is no such thing as lower quality honey.

So, I guess of your expert taste buds can tell the difference between your local clover honey and Walmart/Sam's branded clover honey, then by all means go for what you like better. However, for testing out new mead recipies and small experimental batches, I think normal store bought honey is fine. As long as it is pure and unpasturized.

wayneb
08-10-2010, 05:27 PM
Although for small experimental batches, you are exactly correct (the source of the honey is a secondary consideration), there definitely IS a difference between heat-processed honey and that which has not been heated. Whenever the source location of commercial honey is not explicitly listed on the container it is a safe bet to assume it has come from multiple sources (often imported from countries with far fewer quality controls than here). Also whenever there are no claims as to "raw" or "unprocessed" on the label, you can assume that the honey has been heated above 125F to facilitate filtration. Filtered honey is clearer in the jar, and that makes it more attractive to the general uninformed consumer. But the raw, untreated honey that I prefer for mead has much more inherent aromatic and flavor components - and truly raw clover would knock your socks off with clover blossom aroma and taste.

AToE
08-10-2010, 05:28 PM
I'll agree that there's many situations for cheap honey, I use it all the time myself, but even when they say it's unpasteurized I question whether that really means what it says, or if they keep the temp down a degree to avoid some legal definition and get to label it how they want.

And you are correct, assuming it hasn't been pasteurized or cut with something, honey is still honey, might not be amazing, but certainly will still be good.

Now, I have not tried Walmart's honey. Not a fan of them for my own reasons, not going to have that discussion here! But, when I buy cheap honey from other stores, it is indeed clear that it has been heat-processed, despite saying that it is non-pasturized. I have in no way shape or form a trained or overly sensitive palate, but when I compare it to raw honey that I know isn't heat-processed I can immediately smell the difference (taste seems to be less of a concern, but still somewhat flatter), regardless of the varietal/non-varietal.

That's not me saying don't use cheap honey, just my 2 cents that what the label says isn't always true, there are a lot of sneaky ways to get around labeling laws (for example: "natural flavour" as an ingredient actually means "artificial flavour" but there's some technicality that gets them off the hook. Which sucks for companies that list that meaning that there is simply no added flavouring, makes things very unclear).

But I agree not to necessarily judge the honey by it's cheapness, one should buy some of several kinds and compare for themselves.

EDIT: Darn, it was your turn to beat me Wayne!

BBBF
08-10-2010, 05:45 PM
My first couple meads were made with Costco honey and I was happy with them. I would never talk anyone out of making a mead with it and I assume Sam's is the same. I currently buy my honey from an apiary and can tell that the better the honey, the better the mead. Another benifit of buying form an apiary is the discount of buying in bulk. My 60lbs buckets are cheaper per lbs than Costco's 5lbs containers.

I see nothing wrong with using the Sam's honey if that's all you currently have access to, but it's worth searching for a local bee keeper for one of your future batches (or your current one if you aren't in a rush).

Medsen Fey
08-10-2010, 06:49 PM
Better honey = Better Mead.
With that said there are plenty of times I have used Costco honey for batches that were going to be completely dominated by fruit and other ingredients.

However, the honey in the large chains is almost invariably going to have been heated and filtered so that it is nice and clear for the "discriminating consumer". What's more, if the label doesn't say product of USA, then it is made with imports from who-knows-where. Since China is a big exporter of honey (cut with high fructose corn syrup), unscrupulous producers in other countries may try to slip in Chinese honey to increase their profit margins. If you have faith in the Waltons to make sure your honey is pure, then you are okay.

Tannin Boy
08-10-2010, 07:08 PM
We need to return to things Made In The USA..
I am neither preaching nor disrespecting anyone's decisions for their purchases.
DO business with a local farmer, and Apiarists... That makes a difference in your community! Without local support the small business person is in trouble and so are We!
Remember Save The Bee's......

PitBull
08-10-2010, 07:59 PM
Hmm...I have used honey from Walmart, which I am sure is the same honey sold at Sams. No where on the label does it say where the honey is from. I would be interested to see what label you are reading that shows it is honey from all over the world? I am not doubting your claim, I just can not see it on any of the containers I read.
I wouldn't be so sure it's the same honey. The Wal-Mart empire has many suppliers. You have no way of knowing if the supplier that packages Wal-Mart honey (small quantities) is he same as the one that packages the Sam's Club (5 pounds). After all, Wal-Mart claims "Always the Low Price", not necessarily always the same source. If you are interested in seeing the label that I was reading, just go to your local Sam's Club and read it. Argentina is listed as one of the several countries from which they receive honey. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I like many here, prefer a varietal honey for traditional meads. Just personal preference of course, which was solicited in the original post.


From what I can tell, the honey from walmart is pure, unpasturized honey. Short of being filtered to remove particulates, I do not think this honey has been processed in anyway. By saying "most likely" you are assuming it is processed but have no proof. You are simply assuming because it is a large chain store brand so they must process it.

Again, one can't be so sure that it is unpastureized or heavily processed to remove pollens. We have no way of knowing and that's my point. With local honey, you can usually talk to the beekeeper to see how it's processed. I don't assume Sam's Club processes anything, they merely purchase it for resale. I assume that because it's Wal-mart, they want to appeal to the masses.
Example from Dutch Gold Honey website (mass producer): Because the filtration process used by Dutch Gold Honey generally removes most of the pollen, allergic reactions stemming from the consumption of honey are very uncommon. BTW: Their buckwheat honey complemented my cyser very well. I'm not opposed to using it in many cases.
Example from Virginia Brand e-mail inquire (Sam's Club previous supplier before Bakers & Chefs):Our honey is not pasteurized. It is heated just a minimal amount in order to facilitate it flowing throw our tubing. We also do filter large partials out, but not the pollens and beneficial qualities.



While I am no honey connissuer, the Walmart honey tastes just as good as any other clover honey. And what exactly do you mean by "lower quality"? Are the bees that make Walmart/Sam's honey more lazy then the other bees so they do not put as much effort into making their honey? Do they make it out of cheaper flowers or collect pollen from the 'bad' side of the tracks? Honey is Honey. There are varying tastes depending on where the bees get their nectar, but unless Walmart is cutting their honey with syrup or sugar water, there is no such thing as lower quality honey.

So, I guess of your expert taste buds can tell the difference between your local clover honey and Walmart/Sam's branded clover honey, then by all means go for what you like better. However, for testing out new mead recipies and small experimental batches, I think normal store bought honey is fine. As long as it is pure and unpasturized.
Tastes as good? Again, it is a matter of opinion, as you can see from many of the replies. As for the work ethic of the bees of the clover quality, again, no way of knowing. I did not mean to imply that your mead was not "fine". I merely stated that for traditional mead, one might wish to pay a few cents more (or in many cases significantly less), for honey where they "know what they are getting".

Please don’t construe my post as a personal attack. It is merely my opinion and is based on my experiences and my research on the products.

crimsondrac
08-11-2010, 12:37 PM
I am a complete newbee and did not mean to step on anyone's toes. My sincerest apoligies if I did. I know many people hate Walmart/Sams because it is a big evil corporation that exploits it's employees and forces China down our throats. Not even going to get into that argument here. This is not the forum for it.

I do realize that most store bought honey will generally be a blend of honey from many different sources. However, if it is from another country, it is required by law to have the country of origin listed on it. If it is from multiple countries, they are required to list all the countries it may be from. Thus why all imported items have a Made In stamped or labled somewhere on it. So, I believe it is safe to assume that this honey, while from multiple apiaries, should all be from US sources.

I also believe their claims about no pasturizing it. Pasturization requires heating to a specific tempurature for a specific amount of time. It is a very scientifc method that requires precise numbers. Mearly heating the honey a little to help it flow through the filters is not pasturization in any form. I am sure many honey farmers do that and still call their honey raw and unpasturized. It is not merely legal word rangling.

wayneb
08-11-2010, 01:13 PM
I do realize that most store bought honey will generally be a blend of honey from many different sources. However, if it is from another country, it is required by law to have the country of origin listed on it. If it is from multiple countries, they are required to list all the countries it may be from. Thus why all imported items have a Made In stamped or labled somewhere on it. So, I believe it is safe to assume that this honey, while from multiple apiaries, should all be from US sources.



Strictly speaking, that isn't quite true. The law now requires any honey sold with USDA label markings (for example, "USDA Grade A") to have full country of origin notifications on the label, but not if the honey is ungraded. There is a lot of ungraded commercial honey in the marketplace, and you'll find that none of it has any hint of country of origin marked on the packaging.

It sounds like I'm splitting hairs (or honeycombs) here, but I really do take this particular point very seriously, as lots of Chinese "honey" (which was actually honey cut with corn syrup and other less desirable ingredients) made it to the US market in recent years, and that was not the kind of thing that I want to use in my meads. Not especially with the more recent revelations of Chinese baby formula containing the plastic melamine! That stuff is toxic!!

So, I tend to take my honey sourcing information very seriously, and I want to make sure that there is no room for ambiguity in that source data.

AToE
08-11-2010, 01:15 PM
From what I understand it is common for shadier honey distributers from various countries to buy Chinese "honey" (probably not entirely...) and resell it under the label that it came from their own country.

d.j.patterson
08-11-2010, 02:15 PM
It occurs to me that maybe I should quantify my accusation that the Sam's club honey is of "lower quality". I agree with what many have said that there are definitely uses for this honey. I was only implying that I prefer the taste and smell of honey that has never been heated and is only coarsely filtered.

I too have used some of the cheaper store brand honeys in super fruity mels, as I stated initially. I just prefer to use the highest quality of ingredients that I can afford.

I in no way have expert taste buds; just ask my wife. I have however lined up 20 different honeys to taste and smell the differences between each one. I think that the difference between the clover honey I got locally and the Sam's honey is quite pronounced.

So the point of all of this is use what you like best, but try as many different honeys as you can so that you know what you like.

So in short I disagree with "Honey is Honey"

jkane
08-12-2010, 11:51 AM
I've been biting my tongue on this one. But have to chime in ...

I have used CostCo SueBee honey a few times. It is not a strong flavor or aroma. Makes a very cheap simple mead. It won't impress anyone, but it is very easy to drink.

CostCo changed brands last week! I forget the new name, but it was from Michigan or Pennsylvania I think.

SueBee got a bad reputation a few years ago. Seems someone found a pallet from China somehow related to them somewhere. Do a google search if you want to know more.

Is that bad or good? I have mixed feelings. As long as it is not filler made from corn sugar and "honey flavored", I am OK with it! Of course the filler rumors abound also. Not always substantiated, but they abound.

Lot's of rumor and speculation about imported honey. I guess in the end, we get what we pay for. If it tastes good in the end, and is cheap, I say go for it. If you want to have more honey flavor and aroma in your mead, then buy honey that will impart that for you.

crimsondrac
08-12-2010, 12:50 PM
I yield. After doing some further digging, I have found reports of some farmers, even here in the US, that feed their bees sugar water vs letting them go find nectar. While the end product will look and even taste similar, it does not contain the pollens and other stuff that makes honey, honey. While it is not widespread as a common practice in the US. MANY foriegn apiaries practice this for honey export.

While no one can seem to confirm or deny claims about store bought honey, more precisely, walmart/sams honey, it is still something to take into account when purchasing it.

jkane
08-12-2010, 03:51 PM
If you live in the north and don't ship your bees to places where they can find flowers in the winter ... and ... you take their honey they stored up ... you MUST feed them something! It is pretty normal around here to feed them sugar (any kind) at the end of the season so they can replenish their stores and have food for themselves during the winter. I know a keeper who puts out stale halloween candy for the bees to lick on late in the fall. :p

Does that honey end up sold later? I can't say. But I doubt much of it makes it into what they may sell the next year. Not saying none do it. Just saying there is a good reason for feeding bees sugar instead of only flower nectar!

Chevette Girl
08-13-2010, 02:13 AM
I know a keeper who puts out stale halloween candy for the bees to lick on late in the fall. :p


Dangit, now I want bees so I can try that, see what difference it makes in the honey depending on what candy you feed them! Candycane honey??

Robintun
08-13-2010, 09:39 AM
Also a beekeeper here so a few facts:

1) Currently there is an issue going on with honey from China (reportedly of poor quality, why I do not know) that is being routed into the U.S. using Canada as the back door. It has been going on for some time and is currently being watched for by the proper authorities. Was an article in The American Bee Journal, one of the oldest and most respected Apiarist journals, just last month.

2) When nectar flow is low, you can feed a bee just about any source of sweet and they will take it. It is normal to feed bees various concentrations of sugar and water or corn syrup in the very early spring and later fall. It is common to even add medicines and other holistic essential oils for the bees health.

3) it is uncommon for bees to take any type of man-made sweet when nectar is flowing, they prefer natural sources.

4) a good beekeeper NEVER has a super (the box you collect your portion of honey from) on the hive when he is "feeding" the bees. All that feed is supposed to go into the brood box for their consumption. It is illegal to sell "honey" from "fed" bees (not technically called honey at that point - honey is only from natural sources.)

5) can you argue that there can be cross contamination with all this feeding and etc - of course, but it is considered insignificant even by the FDA and is common practice around the world.

And there are other facts but I can only count to 5, 10 with help.

Fisher kel Tath
08-14-2010, 08:29 AM
I usually use Sam's Club honey for most my batches so far (mostly 1g experimental batches, it's my first year) and the honey I've gotten from our Sam's lists the honey as from Virginia.

d.j.patterson
08-15-2010, 09:49 AM
I had to pull out a bottle to see what mine says.

"Product of USA, Argentina, Canada, Brazil and Mexico"

Medsen Fey
08-15-2010, 10:39 AM
I had to pull out a bottle to see what mine says.

"Product of USA, Argentina, Canada, Brazil and Mexico"

Ya, sure... you betcha.

Fisher kel Tath
08-16-2010, 01:33 AM
I had to pull out a bottle to see what mine says.

"Product of USA, Argentina, Canada, Brazil and Mexico"



Yea, seems the stuff in the gold label is that, the other supplier had a green label and was product of virginia.

It kinda sucks though, no place around me to get other honey (well i can get clover from a different store) that's not 7 dollars for a 12oz bottle, and I'm not a big fan of paying 50 dollars for 5lbs >.>

mesquite
08-16-2010, 10:10 PM
Yea, seems the stuff in the gold label is that, the other supplier had a green label and was product of virginia.

It kinda sucks though, no place around me to get other honey (well i can get clover from a different store) that's not 7 dollars for a 12oz bottle, and I'm not a big fan of paying 50 dollars for 5lbs >.>

Try here for honey:

Windmill Hill Farm

(810) 378-5972

1686 Sheridan Line

don@windmillhillfarm.com

Croswell, MI 48422

You are even in the same state.

I can get 60 lbs of his raw wildflower honey shipped to Texas for $146.81.
If you are close enough you might drive there and only pay $109.29

Fisher kel Tath
08-16-2010, 10:32 PM
7hr round trip, and prolly be cheaper to ship than drive :P

PitBull
08-16-2010, 11:06 PM
Yea, seems the stuff in the gold label is that, the other supplier had a green label and was product of virginia.
I try to research my wine making products as best I can. Virginia Brand honey is actually packaged in West Virginia (go figure). I wrote to the company and was very pleased with their quick response to my inquiry. I was planning to buy some of their honey for a melomel or metheglin, but my local Sam’s replaced the Virginia brand with the Baker’s & Chef’s brand (from USA, Argentina, Canada, Brazil and Mexico).

--------
My e-mail inquiry of 5/11/2009:

(My name, address & e-mail supplied here)

Is your unfiltered Virginia Brand Pure Clover Honey pasteurized or unpasteurized?

Thank you.

----------
Their response of 5/11/2009 (Same day!):

Name,

Our honey is not pasteurized. It is heated just a minimal amount in order to facilitate it flowing throw our tubing. We also do filter large partials out, but not the pollens and beneficial qualities.

If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Jeannette Lewis
Customer Service
Vita Specialty Foods
800-974-4778 x146
fax: 304-263-0946
jlewis@vitafoodproducts.com
www.vitafoodproducts.com

------------
Excellent customer service (except for “particles” being misspelled). I would not hesitate to use the Virginia brand and hope it is still available to most of you at your local Sam’s Club.

mfalenski
08-24-2010, 11:38 AM
Better honey = Better Mead.
With that said there are plenty of times I have used Costco honey for batches that were going to be completely dominated by fruit and other ingredients.

However, the honey in the large chains is almost invariably going to have been heated and filtered so that it is nice and clear for the "discriminating consumer". What's more, if the label doesn't say product of USA, then it is made with imports from who-knows-where. Since China is a big exporter of honey (cut with high fructose corn syrup), unscrupulous producers in other countries may try to slip in Chinese honey to increase their profit margins. If you have faith in the Waltons to make sure your honey is pure, then you are okay.


I've used the Sams honey before - what type does Costco have? I looked online and no honey was listed. I live about 60 minutes from Pittsburgh where they have a few Costcos, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc. Never checked them out, but have wanted to.

Midnight Sun
08-24-2010, 02:06 PM
Costco in Alaska has Silver Bow clover honey. Label says US Grade A, Product of USA and Canada. It has a stronger flavor and odor than the local fireweed honey. Fireweed is very mild, just for comparison.

Since I am new to brewing (my 4th batch just finished fermenting), Costco is where I get my honey from. It is about $12.50 for 6 lb, half of what the cheapest honey available from the LHBS. Doubtless the LHBS honey is better, but since I am just starting out it is hard to resist the price from Costco.

There is one local beekeeper that I am aware of. I have not had a chance to approach him, but I plan on talking to him during the local fair in a few weeks. His operation is about 20 minutes from where I live, so hopefully I can build a good relationship.

fathand
08-24-2010, 02:19 PM
Fisker,

Keep looking for the local stuff. There has to be something near you.

I am on the east side of Michigan and even though I am only about an hour from Croswell I was able to find honey right in my backyard. Shoot the guy I found actually has a few hives right in Detroit. Nothing better than urban honey. Found him on the web through the local bee keeper association website. Said nothing on his site about bulk honey but when I contacted him I was able to get 60 lbs.

jkane
08-25-2010, 11:17 AM
I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread ... CostCo in Wisconsin (Grafton) was SueBee up until this month. I don't remember the name of what I saw on the shelf, but it was made in the US. They are $10 for 5 lb bottles. The price may have gone up to $11 with the change. I was not looking that closely as I have enough stored right now.

I just started 15 gallons of mead with 30 lbs of the CostCo SueBee honey and another 15 lbs of some local basswood that was right off the comb a few weeks ago ($1.75 a lb, so I couldn't pass it up!) I plan to blend this with some fruit juices next year when it's done and cleared. I am calling it cheap mead for now. ;)

christianace
09-29-2010, 07:37 PM
Has anyone used Fireweed honey or meadowfoam??
I have a sister in Washington, I live in AZ and was going to have her bring some when she comes down. If you have made it did you flavor it at all or leave it plain. Both have some flavors that I would like to check out. Please let me know :)

Josh

wayneb
09-29-2010, 08:15 PM
I have used both, and I would recommend based on my experience that you make a traditional from meadowfoam, which will leave you with an incredibly light and smooth mead with a hint of a flavor that suggests cotton candy. With the fireweed, although it will make a nice "neutral" traditional mead, I think it is better as a base honey for light fruit melomels, where its slight caramel aftertaste goes really well with peaches or apricots in a mel. I'm sure there will be other opinions, but this is how I would use each of these honeys in my meads from hereon out.

christianace
09-29-2010, 08:34 PM
I have used both, and I would recommend based on my experience that you make a traditional from meadowfoam, which will leave you with an incredibly light and smooth mead with a hint of a flavor that suggests cotton candy. With the fireweed, although it will make a nice "neutral" traditional mead, I think it is better as a base honey for light fruit melomels, where its slight caramel aftertaste goes really well with peaches or apricots in a mel. I'm sure there will be other opinions, but this is how I would use each of these honeys in my meads from hereon out.

Much appreciated!
I will try to get my hands on some meadowfoam! I like the possibility

The Fireweed I was curious as to what you could do with it.. I was thinking because they say it tastes a little buttery that maybe some kinda nut flavor but I dont know how to impart that.. Can you use nuts? I was also thinking maybe some LIGHTLY toasted oak could make it ok. I am trying to currently stay away from fruits, mainly just because I am not looking for that just yet..

11x
10-01-2010, 07:44 PM
If you live in the north and don't ship your bees to places where they can find flowers in the winter ... and ... you take their honey they stored up ... you MUST feed them something! It is pretty normal around here to feed them sugar (any kind) at the end of the season so they can replenish their stores and have food for themselves during the winter. I know a keeper who puts out stale halloween candy for the bees to lick on late in the fall. :p

Does that honey end up sold later? I can't say. But I doubt much of it makes it into what they may sell the next year. Not saying none do it. Just saying there is a good reason for feeding bees sugar instead of only flower nectar!

i am going to chime in here from a beekeepers point of view. it is not a MUST that you feed sugar. only greedy beekeepers take all the honey from the hive just to try to suplement thier winter stores with sugar water or hfcs. these greedy beekeepers are the same ones poisining our honey with chemicals to keep the bees alive. so i guess inless thay are your bees and you extract the honey than you never truly know what you are getting. i am one of the few beekeepers in my area that wont use any type of chemicals what so ever or heat my honey at all. i dont get as much honey as some of the bigger guy but my honey beats thiers at every tasting contest. with honey it is true that less is more. the less we do to it the better it is

skunkboy
10-02-2010, 12:20 AM
Try here for honey:

Windmill Hill Farm

(810) 378-5972

1686 Sheridan Line

don@windmillhillfarm.com

Croswell, MI 48422

You are even in the same state.

I can get 60 lbs of his raw wildflower honey shipped to Texas for $146.81.
If you are close enough you might drive there and only pay $109.29

Yeah, they have some pretty decent honey...