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Pandora
10-11-2016, 01:31 PM
Hello all,
A newB here so not up to speed with the jargon yet.
How are we looking for our first foray into mead making. Made 3 batches today (11.10.16) and hoping to produce something of value before 09/07/17 for our wedding so got 8 months.

We used 3 different honeys in 3 demijohns (1gal. each) 1x wildflower 1xclover and 1x blend of eu and non eu honey from aldi. After research here's what we did.

3lb honey in tap water sterilised with 2 campden tabs

16g mixed acids (malic, citric and tartaric)
1/4 tsp marmite
pinch of epsom salts
1 tbsp strong tea
1 level tbsp Yeast Nutrients (pot doesn't tell us what they are)

Mix seemed to be very 'airey'. We're going to wait 24hrs and then add yeast. We've got D47 or K1-V1116 to use and have read about the importance of adding at the correct temp. Is there anything glaringly wrong in what we've done so far? Have we got a chance of it working in the time we've got?

We're welcome to comments and suggestions!

Pandora x

bernardsmith
10-11-2016, 02:40 PM
Hi Pandora - and welcome... Glaringly wrong? I don't think so but you have added ingredients that are not self evidently valuable. Why the epsom salts? And if you added the epsom salts why the acid blend? And if you added the acid blend is that because the pH was too high for the yeast? If it wasn't , might the pH now be too low? You have added nutrient so why add marmite? Honey is not particularly friendly to most microbes and yeast (not enough moisture) so why the campden tablets? If the tap water has chlorine in it then you might add the tabs to neutralize the chlorine but if the water is sanitized with chloramine I am not certain that the tabs will remove this. All that said, if this is your first "foray" into mead making are you sure that this first batch is going to be crafted sufficiently well to welcome the guests at your wedding? ... You need to be careful that the temperature you ferment at is not too high and that you sufficiently aerate the must during the first few days and offer the yeast nutrient when it can best use it and not provide the nutrient to other competing bacteria and yeast..

HeidrunsGift
10-11-2016, 04:26 PM
Welcome to the forum,

To reiterate what Beranrdsmith said:
-Dont add acid up front, unless the pH is too high. When is pH too high? Im not sure the exact number, but I've started a pH with 4.5 that fermented very well. I doubt there are many musts that will start much higher than that. If on the other hand it gets too low (3.2 I believe), it can stall the yeast.
-To each his own, but I don't think salt is ever a desirable characteritic in mead. That is why a lot of people don't use sodium metabisulfite (I believe thats waht campden tabs are made of), and are very cautious using DAP late in a fermentation.
-Temp is critical for D47. If your house temps are swinging a lot, or too hot/cold, best not to use that one.

-Did you use a tincture for the tea? That can help control the strength of it
-I'd HIGHLY recommend going to meadmaderight.com and reading up on TOSNA, or TiOSNA if you can't get Fermaid-O. This will produce much better tasting mead than generic nutrients up front all at once.

So thats a bunch of information. What I would focus on is learning about the following, all of which can be found in this forum:

-TOSNA (also at meadmaderight.com)
-pH (you'll need to buy a meter)
-Hydrometer readings. Measure throughout fermentation and don't pitch if your OG is over 1.120.
-Make it simple for your next mead and go traditional: just water, honey, and yeast-one that is tolerant of a wide level of temps. If you are concerned with bacteria, you can add appropriate amount of potassium-metabisulfite prior to pitching yeast (I wait 24 hours).

Hope that helps some.

Skal

bernardsmith
10-11-2016, 04:52 PM
I agree with HeidrunsGift, Basically, for a novice wine maker, the only concern about pH you should have is that it is too low (the must or wine too acidic) for the yeast and so a pH of below 3.2 will stall the fermentation. AFTER you have fermented the mead or wine then you might want to make sure that there is enough "zing" in the alcohol, so you may want to make the mead more acidic, but you can use your taste buds to determine whether you need to add any acidity or not. Sophisticated wine and mead makers may want to aim for a particular TA (titratable acidity) but that is different from the pH. The pH tells you "only" how strong the acids are. TA is a different metric. That tells you whether there is a lot (or a little) of the acids present and as you can imagine you can have a little (or a lot) of strong acids or a little (or a lot) of weak acids and so the tasting experience will be quite different.
Epsom salts, however, are not the same as table salt. I think the main ingredients in Epsom salt are salts (a chemical that results when acids and bases are combined) made from Magnesium and Sulfur. They are often used by brewers who want to emulate certain British beers that are made with rich mineral based water, but mead ain't beer and honey ain't grain...

Squatchy
10-11-2016, 06:41 PM
Hi Pandora

Welcome to the forum. Lots of good peps here who would love to help you to learn to make good mead. You, much like many others who come aboard after already starting a mead have stepped into a fire. Unfortunately, there is so much junk on the web about mead making and the recipes to follow that until you have read, and learned enough , a newbee wouldn't know right from wrong. Had you asked for help before you started I'm sure we would have not added some of the things you have already added to your must.

I would like to see if you would consider making some more so that you can get started right, and be assured to have a good mead for your wedding? You may or may not be happy with what you have started. Mead is pretty resilient and over time almost everything can become drinkable. The difference could be several months to a few years or more. I doubt anyone could really say for sure if your current stuff will be ready by your wedding day, or maybe even ever to be honest with you.

We could help you make new stuff if you want, and could pretty much ensure that you will have some very nice mead on your special day. Of course we can try to help you with the other stuff but that's a crap shoot if it will turn out ok.




So here is what I would suggest with the stuff you want to try to make in the above. I would stir the crap out of your must several times daily to try and get as much of the sulfites out as you can. I think if you keep things locked up you will stymy your pitch and have a very long lag time. So try and get as much gassed off as you can before you pitch.

In the future don't add any acids up front. Your pushing your pH in the wrong direction and may have pushed your pH too low to function already. So I would suggest buying some K2CO3 at your LHBS so you can counterbalance the effects of the acid that should have never been added in the first place. If you plan to make mead very much in the future you will want to buy a pH meter. If you don't ever plan to use a pH meter you will want the K2CO3 around to add it up front as a stop gap measure. I would strongly suggest to never add acids up front. Most of the time you won't need any at the end of the day anyway. If you do need to create some balance there are better ways than adding acid in powder form.

In my opinion it's not the best procedure to add your food source right off the bat. When you add it up fron your feeding everything in the must. Doing this gives bad guys some advantage and they in turn are robing the good guys the things you are hoping they eat. Once you pitch your yeast there is a "lag phase". You won't see anything going on until that stag is over. Once lag phase is over you will then begin to see obvious signs that fermentation has begun. It is at this point that I would suggest adding your first does of food. The most modern methods have proven that the yeast will do much better if you feed them several times over the first week rather than the old way of feeding them all up front with one giant meal. Imagine if you were going to run a marathon. You could stuff yourself before the race, or, you could plan to eat and drink at different stages along the way. I'm an endurance cyclist and learning how much to eat/drink and how often to continuously feed yourself along the way is a huge part of learning how to endure long efforts that a single meal could never even come close to getting you across the finish line. I'm talking riding 200 miles in one sitting on a bicycle. Or riding 3-4 hundred miles in a few days and climbing over tree line several times a day. This is a great analogy to what we are asking our yeast to do when we make high gravity meads.

Now. Hopefully you haven't yet pitched your yeast. This is where I see lots of mistakes all the time. Please do not just toss your dry yeast on the top of your must. You will kill as much as 60% of your yeast right from the start and the remaining could very well be wounded warriors. I don't have time right now to get into all the specifics but here is what I would suggest you do. Heat some tap water ( NOT DISTILLED WATER) to 110 F ,, approximately 1 cup, now wait until the temp drops to 104 and then lightly sprinkle your yeast on top of the water and just let it sit. Don't stir it up just yet. Let it absorb water on it's own . After 15 minutes add 1/3 cup of your must to this slurry and stir it together. Now the yeast have some food they can start to chew on. In 10-15 minutes add another 1/3 cup of your must. Continue to do this until the temps of the yeast slurry and the must is within 10 degrees of each other. By doing this the yeast begin to get used to the pH and gravity of your must slowly over time. If you toss the yeast into must that is 10 degrees or great different in temps you will shock the yeast and kill off lots from temperature shock.

Hope this helps. I also hope you can go get some more honey and the K2C03 and start another batch with a better understanding of the process.