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bernardsmith
10-29-2013, 02:49 PM
Okay, Here's proof of my complete novice status. I understand that raw honey contains far more of the volatile flavor molecules than processed honey but raw honey also contains gunk from the comb including some wax. Which is preferred by mead makers - raw or processed honey? And if I use raw honey how do I minimize the detritus coating buckets and tubes and hydrometers and other tools or is that simply the cost of "doing business"? Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments.

Marshmallow Blue
10-29-2013, 02:55 PM
Depends on what you mean by processed. Lots fo places will filter out that bee wax bits and stuff. That's okay. When they filter out all the flavor and go even further to cut it with corn syrup is where the issue is.

To avoid this, I'd say most of us like to stick closer to raw side than the corn syrup side.

As far as wax and gunk clogging equipment: Doesn't happen really. Once it's dissolved in water, all of that stuff is tiny borderline microscopic. It makes clearing a bit harder, but doesn't perturb the functionality of your siphons, carboys etc.

anir dendroica
10-29-2013, 03:14 PM
Depends on your goal. I use raw honey because that's what I get from my bees. On the other hand a few of the larger commercial meaderies use ultrafiltration on their honey to remove all pollen, wax bits, etc. and have discovered that this yields a more consistent mead with a clean flavor profile.

It's mainly a complexity vs. consistency thing, and I'm personally in favor of complexity.

Honey gunk will not clog your equipment. Once the honey dissolves in water the remaining particles are not sticky and will either float or settle. If you have really gunky honey from a local beekeeper you can pour it through a strainer or a cheesecloth.

bernardsmith
10-29-2013, 04:27 PM
Depends on what you mean by processed. Lots fo places will filter out that bee wax bits and stuff. That's okay. When they filter out all the flavor and go even further to cut it with corn syrup is where the issue is.

To avoid this, I'd say most of us like to stick closer to raw side than the corn syrup side.

As far as wax and gunk clogging equipment: Doesn't happen really. Once it's dissolved in water, all of that stuff is tiny borderline microscopic. It makes clearing a bit harder, but doesn't perturb the functionality of your siphons, carboys etc.

Wow!! Are you serious? Do folk really cut honey with corn syrup and sell that as fancy grade varietal honey? That sounds like unadulterated fraud. You can spend a fortune on honey but corn syrup costs bopkiss.

bernardsmith
10-29-2013, 04:31 PM
Thanks to both Anir and Marshmallow. I am just gobsmacked at the thought that folk who sell honey adulterate it with sugar and sell it as 100 percent honey

kudapucat
10-29-2013, 05:20 PM
I'm pretty sure down under it has to be labelled as I've seen "honey and glucose" with the "and glucose" written pretty darn small before.

The problem (for retailers) with raw honey is quality control.
Raw honey has an unpredictable density, so a pound of honey my sometimes not fill a jar, other times overflow it, and people feel they're being ripped off.
So the mix all the honey together and water it down to a standardised gravity.

Also it tends to crystallise unpredictably, so blending reduces this, I think watering and heat treating also have an effect. Filtering also serves to remove any particulate that cause nucleisation or whatever it's called.

To extract it fast and economically, it's done using heat, and for OH&S reasons, filtered to buggery and pasteurised.

To make it more affordable, sometimes it's cut with glucose.

In short: by the time it hits the shelves, it only resembles honey.

Vance G
10-29-2013, 06:01 PM
I am a frugal beekeeper and I tend to use honey for fermentation that indeed has bits of beeswax, pollen and I must admit to some bee lips and eyelids undoubtedly end up in the must. I have not tried soaking my apparatus in the harsh alkaline cleaner but my hydrometers and other equipment have a coated feel to them and an opaque haze of beeswax. The hydrometer still works and I seem to never get any infections that result in a bad mead. In fact I would bet I am getting many more of the fine aromatics of the different varieties of honey in my mead.

If you want a sterile honey with all the pollen and aromatics stripped out of it by heat and ultra filtration, I say enjoy your gunk free honey. I just have the admittedly parochial view that honey heated to around 180 degrees in a flash heating manifold and shot thru ultrafine filtration to strip all pollen out, then flash cooled before the sugars burn, is an insult to the honey. At this point of processing, the rice syrup added by one of the worlds largest exporters cannot be detected even at high levels.

That being said, some fine honey is sold thru the big box stores. A local beekeeper contracts almost his whole crop to Costco and it tastes much the same with their label on it as it does coming out of his bulk tank. Trouble is that with commercial honey, you just don't know what you are getting.

Bob1016
10-29-2013, 07:47 PM
Here in south florida most stored carry Bee Natural, which is pretty close to raw (heated to 100F for medium filtration at a slow rate) and is OK, it is local so that's a plus. I have seen other brands in north florida that are local as well and I think they use the same semi processing technique.
I tend to pay the extra money for honey from beekeepers whose hives I have seen and been in there processing rooms. They are always nice, never cheat me, and are honest (if they only produced a smaller amount of a certain variety ant don't want to sell it in larger amounts because they can get more for it per lb, they tell me, and that's that). I don't mind the price difference from season to season because sometimes they had a bad harvest (and I'd rather trust the guy charging a little more for a bad harvest than the one whose prices never change).

fatbloke
10-30-2013, 02:24 AM
Well I don't want this to seem sarcastic (that's not the intention)......

Racking !

Hive and bee debris either sinks or floats.

Whether it can add flavour or aroma is a different question......

Hence why use processed, if you can obtain raw, that hasn't been meddled with since the bees ?

As all food processing (well pretty much) is aimed at extracting more money from us in some way ? Why even consider something processed if you have the option ?

If I get some raw honey, I just water it down to my target gravity, then if there does seem to be too much debris in that, I just strain tbe must through a muslin cloth (2 or 3 thicknesses of it), which catches pretty much all the bits of dead bee, wax, etc......

antonioh
10-30-2013, 06:01 AM
Adding syrups, sugar or other thing to honey and label it like honey is fraud, at least here in europe.
Even ultrafiltration in view of reduction of pollen content is not permited in honey for public consume.
As for water content, also here is a limit of 20% (exception for Erica honey of 22%). Beyond this limit is forbiden for direct public consume.
More than residues of wax and bee parts, what worries me as beekeeper, is honey residues introduced BEFORE harvest and not necessarily by the bees...
Fortunately we donīt have (yet) small hive beatle. As for varroa control...

Elaith
10-30-2013, 09:12 AM
There is some research being done on the beneficial properties that all of the honey and its associated parts have. For example, if you read Buhner's book: http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Herbal-Healing-Beers-Fermentation/dp/0937381667, he goes into some of the qualities that have been attributed to honey. Not all of them are scientifically proven and fall into the holistic remedy side of things, but there are some historical parallels that lend some interesting insight into the properties that honey may contain. Specifically he talks about creating a "whole hive" mead as the ancients would have done.

This would seem to indicate that raw honey would be a much better option than processing anything out of the honey at all. That being said, I do not advocate using the same historical process to accomplish that since our bee populations are having enough issues as it is, but the thought of using (safely gathered) honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and bee bits in a mead and then racking around that is intriguing.

The final thing I would note is that your final product may not have the same crystal clarity that a "commercial" mead might, but at the same time said commercial meads may be lacking flavors and subtleties that make the homebrewers product superior in quality :).

Ok, that turned into far more of a soapbox than I wanted to, but it's early and I haven't had enough coffee yet :).

antonioh
10-30-2013, 10:32 AM
Sorry everybody !

Healthy virtues of honey came in major from its enzimes and phenolic compounds.

Propolis is very rich in phenolic compounds, itīs smell is wonderful but the taste... worse than nasty so do not see propolis in a batch.

Published scientific works on honey (among many others), here are some very recent:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23896128
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=honey+cough
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=honey+helicobacter
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24065455
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24156742
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=honey+cancer

GntlKnigt1
10-30-2013, 11:31 AM
Sorry everybody !

Healthy virtues of honey came in major from its enzimes and phenolic compounds.

Propolis is very rich in phenolic compounds, itīs smell is wonderful but the taste... worse than nasty so do not see propolis in a batch.

Published scientific works on honey (among many others), here are some very recent:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23896128
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=honey+cough
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=honey+helicobacter
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24065455
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24156742
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=honey+cancer

Some really interesting stuff there, antonioh... Honey helps clear a cough after an infection... slows the growth of tumor in breast cancer in rats....am sure there is other stuff in there. Thanks for collecting that info and sharing it !!!

Shelley
10-30-2013, 03:14 PM
Okay, Here's proof of my complete novice status. I understand that raw honey contains far more of the volatile flavor molecules than processed honey but raw honey also contains gunk from the comb including some wax. Which is preferred by mead makers - raw or processed honey? And if I use raw honey how do I minimize the detritus coating buckets and tubes and hydrometers and other tools or is that simply the cost of "doing business"? Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments.

There's no official definition, but for me, "raw" honey does not mean "honey filled with gunk". I run my honey through a sieve so that the wax and bee bits are removed, but not the good honey parts, including pollens. It's far more appealing to consumers. Know, though, that wax is perfectly edible. Comb honey is eaten whole, with the wax either swallowed or spit out (diner's choice). Caveat: if your dog eats a LOT of beeswax, he might get a little queasy... (sigh)

When I remove the honey from the honeycomb, I end up with a bucket full of honey-coated wax cappings. I wash the cappings in hot water to clean them off so I can use the wax. The honey on the cappings is now dissolved in the water. I strain out the water from the cappings through a regular kitchen strainer. My must is far, far gunkier than you should be getting from raw honey.

The resulting must has an SG of 1.09 or higher already, so I add honey up to my desired SG and ferment. It also has wax bits floating on top. They eventually find their way out of the system through racking and re-racking with no fuss on my part.

I've done this many, many times; all of my equipment cleans up easily.

frankiecj7
10-30-2013, 06:18 PM
Raw honey is honey that has been extracted from the comb, and then bottled, etc without HEATING, FILTERING or ADULTERATING. Yes, you can warm honey to 100 degrees (it can get that hot in hives at times), and you can strain it - I strain mine through a pair of womens stockings just prior to going into my bottling tank. The stockings stop all bee parts, large wax particles, propolis, etc from passing through however, it does allow the pollen to pass through. The end result is a clean honey containing all the pollen, amino acids, etc and no damage to the product. Heat above 140 degrees damages honey within a few minutes, and at 160 will pasturize it, which kills everything good. Removal of pollen by filtering takes the protein out of the honey.
To keep honey clear and drastically slow the rate of crystallization on the shelf, the big stores want their honey filtered and pasturized, leaving it as nothing more than sugar, with no healthy benefits. I tell my customers to ask to what temperature the honey was heated, and how it was strained. If the person selling you the honey can't tell you that, then WALK AWAY.. no respectable beekeeper will ever knowingly damage their honey, nor will they tell you its raw when its not. Every day at farmers markets, etc, I come across people selling honey who are NOT beekeepers. They go to the big honey processors and buy honey in bulk, then sell it as raw. I know people in the bulk processing business and they HEAT and FILTER all their honey....

apidae
11-01-2013, 07:47 PM
This is my first post here and I just racked my first run of three meads today.

I'll chime in on this as I am a professional beekeeper that specializes in producing single apiary urban honey based on geographic location rather than flower, ie, polyfloral vs monofloral.

There is very little transparency in the honey business. It's remarkably shady. We know there is an issue with honey laundering (yes it's a real thing), the adulteration of honey and lack of clarity as to the real source. Most honey you buy is from commercial sources who simply heat, filter the crap out of it and blend it together into big vats thus destroying all the good stuff; flavor, etc. In short it tastes like shit when you taste it next to the real deal. People often think they are buying local honey when they are not. Also keep in mind that most, not all, of the mono-floral honey you buy is the by -product of commercial pollination.

So what am I getting at? Find a truly local beekeeper and buy directly from him/her. Ask if they engage in commercial pollination. Ask how they treat their bees and honey.

I personally don't heat, blend and only filter to remove an errant leg, wing or big pieces of wax. So my friends, use only good honey...I think that's what most people are asking for when they say, "Is your honey raw?"

Anyway, glad to meet all of you and happy mead making!

McJeff
11-01-2013, 09:18 PM
The Walmart where I live is selling mini "milk jug" size of honey that are 5lbs of supposedly raw honey. For 15bucks. Just shy over 3dollars a pound. I've yet to test it but in a pitch it would seem like a good alternative.

joemirando
11-01-2013, 10:02 PM
The Walmart where I live is selling mini "milk jug" size of honey that are 5lbs of supposedly raw honey. For 15bucks. Just shy over 3dollars a pound. I've yet to test it but in a pitch it would seem like a good alternative.

I, for one, will be waiting expectantly for opinions on this honey. I don't expect it to be as good as the best, but "not too bad" might be a big help.

The honey I get from BJ's (like Costco or Sam's Club, for anyone who's never heard of it) comes in 3 lb bottles and costs $7.99. I have no illusions about it being highest-possible-quality, but lists: "Product of USA, Canada, Argentina". Whether that can be trusted or not is beyond me.

Basically, its what I've got.

Joe

kuri
11-01-2013, 10:13 PM
I'd expect any honey being sold at Walmart to come from China, which after all does produce roughly half of all the honey in the world. And I wouldn't trust honey from China for all sorts of reasons. I'm sure good honey can be found somewhere in the country, but I'm also sure that most of it will be badly tainted by the massive pollution in the country, which apparently does make its way into the nectar of flowers.

joemirando
11-01-2013, 10:21 PM
I'd expect any honey being sold at Walmart to come from China, which after all does produce roughly half of all the honey in the world. And I wouldn't trust honey from China for all sorts of reasons. I'm sure good honey can be found somewhere in the country, but I'm also sure that most of it will be badly tainted by the massive pollution in the country, which apparently does make its way into the nectar of flowers.

VERY good point!

And I have been told that its not just the pollution. Its also pesticides, antibiotics, and heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Sigh. :(

Joe

kuri
11-02-2013, 12:57 AM
VERY good point!

And I have been told that its not just the pollution. Its also pesticides, antibiotics, and heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Sigh. :(

Joe

Yeah, I was counting the heavy metals in the pollution, but pesticides and the like are sure to be higher too.

TheAlchemist
11-02-2013, 02:14 PM
...doesn't perturb the functionality of your siphons, carboys etc...

OK
I'm a wordsmith geek.
I just adore the phrase "perturb the functionality..."

McJeff
11-02-2013, 02:27 PM
I, for one, will be waiting expectantly for opinions on this honey. I don't expect it to be as good as the best, but "not too bad" might be a big help.

The honey I get from BJ's (like Costco or Sam's Club, for anyone who's never heard of it) comes in 3 lb bottles and costs $7.99. I have no illusions about it being highest-possible-quality, but lists: "Product of USA, Canada, Argentina". Whether that can be trusted or not is beyond me.

Basically, its what I've got.

Joe

if i get bored i just might try a batch. I still use my local guy for the raw honey. but in a pinch or used to mix when a bit short. might be worth it.

TheAlchemist
11-02-2013, 02:27 PM
...some fine honey is sold thru the big box stores. A local beekeeper contracts almost his whole crop to Costco and it tastes much the same with their label on it as it does coming out of his bulk tank. Trouble is that with commercial honey, you just don't know what you are getting.

Hmmm...that's good to know...

Also, Look for sting in "raw honey"...these things can happen.

Oh, and Vance, you may be glad to know that bee keepers rarely get cancer...

McJeff
11-02-2013, 02:33 PM
VERY good point!

And I have been told that its not just the pollution. Its also pesticides, antibiotics, and heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Sigh. :(

Joe



well crap :(

frankiecj7
11-02-2013, 10:04 PM
The things mentioned about Chinese honey - Adulteration, use of banned Chemicals/Pesticides, illegal use of antibiotics, as well as their 'dumping' of honey on the American market are all the reasons its Illegal to import honey from China (exactly what Groeb was knowingly doing). The Chinese, not to be told 'No', found other countries willing to take it, and re-label it as if it were their honey (India, and a few others), and ship to us. Thanks to our Tip Top govt official officials (said with sarcasm), someone noticed the small fact that countries such as india, which never made much honey for export was suddenly shipping us hundreds of tons....
Most of the imported honey comes from Canada and Argentina, both of which are fine.

TheAlchemist
11-02-2013, 10:37 PM
Three Words:
Know
Your
Beekeeper

GntlKnigt1
11-03-2013, 06:54 AM
Okay... it's dated, but Time should be a trustworthy source...

http://healthland.time.com/2011/08/22/tainted-chinese-honey-may-be-on-u-s-store-shelves/