View Full Version : Smell before adding yeast?

10-31-2010, 03:24 AM
So I've searched around all over and couldn't find a definitive answer.

I just started my second batch of mead (just a 1 gallon batch) using some raw avocado honey. I heated up a gallon of spring water (didn't bring it to boil at all, just enough to see some steam rise) so the honey would dissolve nicely. Now since it's raw, I was informed to use 1 campden tablet to eliminate all the impurities and what not in the honey that will interfere once I add my yeast. After I dissolved the honey, I added a crushed tablet (the water was still quite warm, so I don't know if that matters). Oh, I sanitized everything nicely, as I had done with my previous batch, which turned out nicely.

This is the first time I've used campden tablets, so I'm not sure what I should be expecting, but a couple hours later after adding the tablet, the must stinks something bad. Is that just the gases being released and why I need to wait 24 hours before pitching the yeast?

I'm slightly worried and confused!

10-31-2010, 04:54 AM
Not sure about the smell, but nothing is necessary to "purify" the honey, I've made a pile of batches where honey (raw) was dissolved into just room temp water and have never had a problem. If the smell is kinda like rotten eggs or burnt matches, then I think you're fine, that's probably just the sulphur escaping.

10-31-2010, 10:29 AM
Actually, you're unlikely to get much of a sulphur type smell, as the sodium or potassium (depends on where you got the campden tablets from) negates most of that.

You invariably get a sharpish chemically type smell that's a bit indistinct, not really sulphurous, but not really chlorine like either (campden tablets here are usually sodium metabisulphite)..... just not that nice smelling.

As for adding one to the must before pitching ? Well that's a regular technique when making country wines, especially when fermenting on the pulp. It works as a sanitiser as well as an anti-oxidant.

Hence it'd be normal to leave the must for 24 hours before pitching the yeast if you've added a campden tablet to the must.......



p.s. make up a batch of sanitiser with 5 crushed campden tablets and 1 teaspoon of citric acid in 500 mls of water, take a whiff and see if that's what you're smelling - you can then just put it in a spray bottle and it's ready for quick sanitising....

10-31-2010, 12:11 PM
Yeah I can't really quite place the smell of it, since the avocado honey itself has a unique molasses fragrance. So that mixed with whatever other smell it is makes it smell really strange.

But yeah, I've been told and also read a number of times that using a cambden tablet in raw honey sterilizes the wild yeasts and all other little particles of stuff like wax and bee parts that could already be in it...? Who knows, maybe they were out to lunch.

As long as this stuff turns out fine, I'll be happy! It would be a bummer to waste all that honey and money.

Should I stir it up to help release the gases if the smell is still there by the end of the day?

Thanks for the help!

10-31-2010, 12:39 PM
Hey Wonderjosh,

I'm still quite green in the mead arena but from my experience with metabisulfites is that they do have a unique aroma. I mixed up a batch for a gallon of mead in a cup with a bit of water and took a sniff. Ouch! That was poignant to say the least. Burns the nose a bit and smells...off. So I would say what you have is normal.

Regarding the mixing to drive of the gas; I would mix it regardless. Mix/shake it like a fevered crazy person in order to aerate the must well. Oxygen in the beginning is a required nutrient. Doing that should drive off any volatile gas in the process.

Btw, I've only added sulfites to one of my mead batches for initial sanitizing of the must. None of them had any strange infections and I've always used raw honey.

10-31-2010, 01:39 PM
Ditto Demolitron on the raw honey. In Ken Schramm's book, he talks about the chemical properties of honey. Now, I'm no chem major, but the general idea behind not needing to sterilize your must is that honey has lots of enzymes in it. One of these actually breaks something else down in the honey to produce hydrogen peroxide, hence honey's antibacterial properties. Ken talks about how this reaction actually increases it's effectiveness as the honey becomes diluted in water. So basically, just by mixing up your must, you're "sterilizing" it and preventing whatever spoilage organisms from getting a firm grip. Plus, if you use a packaged yeast, the competitive factor that it produces should be toxic to any wild yeast that's in the honey.

As to waiting for 24 hours after using campden tablets, it's an insurance policy. You wouldn't want to sterilize your must, then immediately pitch the yeast in, because guess what'll get killed? So basically, it's to avoid the possibility of killing off what you are going to pitch in by allowing for the gas to come out of solution.

Hope this helps.

Oh, and welcome to GotMead! ;D

10-31-2010, 04:04 PM
If the ancient Egyptians could put offerings of honey in some of the tombs, only for it to be found by modern archaeologists.

And guess what......

When checked/tested, it was still edible, some 3K years later....

Honey is the only food stuff that doesn't need a "use by" date. With the high levels of sugar and other natural enzymes etc nothing grows in it....

So why "sanitise/sterilise" it... it's already like that. Even raw honey with any possible "hive detritus" in it, well any bit's will settle out with the sediment.



10-31-2010, 04:26 PM
Awesome! Thanks for the info and pointers everyone! I'll just monitor this baby and see how it goes.

I really don't know why forum earlier. Haha ;)

Thanks for the help!

11-01-2010, 06:32 PM
I couldn't figure out how to edit my last post so I wouldn't have to double-post, but anyway!

Turns out it was just the honey that smelled rank. The full jar of honey smelled just fine, slightly like molasses. Apparently avocado honey and water (perhaps with the influence of campden tablets) has a funky odour. I smelled my half-full jar and it had a similar smell as the must, so there we have it!

Just added some spices to it, so hopefully this metheglyn will turn out ok. It's fermenting very nicely at the moment.

Oh, in my last post I meant to type "I really don't know why I didn't join this forum earlier." haha :P