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William1027
10-14-2010, 07:25 AM
...honey. I'm a beekeeper with a batch of honey that's started to ferment (jar seals were faulty). Can I use this honey to make mead? If so can you recommend a recipe?

Medsen Fey
10-14-2010, 08:34 AM
Welcome to GotMead William!

I'm sure you can make mead with it, but the question I have is what does it smell like now? Often wild yeast, and the osmophilic yeast that can survive in honey, can produce some bad odors (like rotten eggs for example). If it smells really bad, I'm not sure that you'll get anything good from it by trying to ferment it, but on the other hand, you don't have much to lose by trying.

Can you tell us what type of honey it is? And how did it come to be fermenting? Does it have a high moisture content?

To make a mead, you may want to read the NewBee guide (see link in the column to the left of the posts). The simplest recipe for a new mead maker is Joe's Ancient Orange (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_rapidrecipe&page=viewrecipe&recipe_id=118&Itemid=459). If there is any funky flavor from the wild yeast, the orange and spice may cover it up. With your honey, you might want to modify the recipe by pasteurizing the must to kill the wild yeast. If you mix the honey and water and heat it up to about 160F for 5 minutes, they'll be killed, and then when it cools back down to room temperature you can add the fruit/spices and pitch the bread yeast. If it is stinky, the heating may help remove some of the smelly odor.

If the honey that is fermenting still smells good, you can try the recipe without pasteurizing. You may not be certain that the bread yeast will be dominant, but it will likely work.

I hope that helps.

Medsen

PitBull
10-14-2010, 09:06 AM
I'm not sure that you'll get anything good from it by trying to ferment it, but on the other hand, you don't have much to lose by trying.

If the honey that is fermenting still smells good, you can try the recipe without pasteurizing. You may not be certain that the bread yeast will be dominant, but it will likely work.

William1027,

Welcome to GotMead!

Additionally, if the honey still smells okay, you may wish to try a "killer" yeast. Lalvin EC-1118 is a very competitive yeast that will inhibit wild yeasts. The same is true for Lalvin K1-V1116. These two yeast strains ferment to very dry (about 16 to 18% ABV). You may have to back sweeten if you choose to go this route.

Dan McFeeley
10-14-2010, 11:41 AM
If you can skim off the top layer or so of the fermenting honey, it might be ok. You can taste the remaining honey and if seems ok, why not? Try adding sulfites to the honey must and let it sit for 24 hrs, just to be sure although diluting the honey to must levels should kill the osmophilic yeasties.

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Medsen Fey
10-14-2010, 03:19 PM
Dan, you make a good point that skimming off the top layer will remove most of the wild yeast. The concentrations under the surface are lower.

While osmophilic yeast can actively ferment in a 70% sugar solution, most of them are not obligate osmophilic. Most of them can function at much lower sugar concentrations. Even ones that are classified as obligate osmophilic may be able to ferment at concentrations of sugar around 20% as long as adequate potassium is available. There's a Patron's thread entitled "Cracked honey container lid (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15564&highlight=osmophilic)" that has some useful info along with a linked article on osmophilic yeast that provides more detail. While the sudden shift in osmotic pressure that occurs with dilution of the honey probably will kill many of these wild yeast, the fact that most of them can survive and ferment in a 25-35% sugar solution means they are capable of fermenting honey musts.

Sulfiting would certainly be effective for treating them and it is good that you mention that alternative.

William1027
10-15-2010, 09:48 AM
Thanks to everybody for all the advice. Just what we wanted!

The honey is acacia, chestnut and flowers from our garden, out here in the French Pyrenees. It doesn't smell too bad. We'd actually started eating some of it before we noticed it was exceptionally runny and tasted a bit strange.

It went off because we used transparent cellophane covers on the jars, held down by rubber bands. Clearly not sufficiently airtight. Luckily we stored most of our honey harvest in normal jars and it's not absorbed moisture.

I think we'll probably take all of your advice, by skimming the top off AND pasteurising. We've now got to find a supplier of brewing yeasts etc. Home brewing is not as common here. In fact one French site said it's best to go to US and British sites for good info!

So thanks again. It's great to think of you all in different parts of the world helping us out! We'll let you know how we get on.

William

wayneb
10-15-2010, 10:39 AM
William, let me add my belated welcome to the "Gotmead" community! While you've already received great advice on your original question, since I now see where you're from, let me suggest that if you wish to purchase your supplies from a continental European distributor perhaps to avoid paying excessive shipping charges, Brouwland in Belgium (http://www.brouwland.com/fr/) might be a place that you want to check out.