View Full Version : Must Preperation

05-26-2004, 01:35 PM
People make their musts in a Variety of ways. This can be confusing to the new meadmaker. I will try to find posts advocating each method below, and explaining the reasoning.

How should I Prepare my must?
A> Boil
B> Pasturize
C> Chemical Sterilization (campden Tablets... Potasium Meta-bisulfite)
D> None of the Above

05-26-2004, 01:38 PM
How should I Prepare my must?

D> None of the Above

When I make a must, it is just the ingredients. Other than minor heating of my honey to get it out of the jar easier, I neither pasturize, boil nor sulfite my Must initially.

Honey is a very robust food storage system. Most micro organismas that land on honey die due to dehydration as the sugar sucks all the water out of the little beasties. Those organismes that can go dormant in honey have a tough time surviving when honey is rapidly diluted in must preperation.

I have a very good well water system and check the water quality periodicly. I also Sterilize all my equipment before use.

The final effort to minimize off flavors is the use of k1-v1116 yeast. this is a highly competitve yeast that out preforms wild yeasts, and is known as a killer yeast (though exactly why I'm not sure).

A Final Note... Sterilization of all equipment is a neccessity, perhaps more so on this method than any others.

05-26-2004, 01:41 PM
How should I Prepare my must?

B> Pasturize

Greg Fink from rec.crafts.meadmaking had the following to say.

> Personally, I prefer to pasteurize. This is an effective way to kill off any
> unwanted microorganisms that may have found a home in your honey.

> I prefer not to use sulfites because some people are allergic. Otherwise, it's
> an easy, mess-free way to sanitize. I don't like the idea of anyone not being
> able to enjoy my mead. As a sufferer of many food allergies myself, I know
> what it's like to be at a table where everyone is enjoying a dish except me.

> As for boiling, I haven't tried it yet, and may in the future. It certainly
> seems easier than pasteurizing. Some literature suggests that the boiling
> process can eliminate some of the delicate flavors of honey. One of the things
> I enjoy most about mead is the complicated honey flavors and aromas.

> I encourage people to experiment and decide what works best for them.

> Greg F.

Steve Thompson replied with some needed information on pasturizing.

> I've used this method and have held the honey/water mixture at about 160-170
> F for about 20 minutes, occasionally skimming the stuff that floats to the
> top. The last couple of batches I've made, I have not pasteurized my mead
> and have had very good results. Sanitation is the key... everything must be
> very, very clean. And, I typically make a starter for the yeast to give the
> fermentation process a head start.

> Steve

Dan McFeeley
02-21-2005, 04:58 AM
I pulled out an old post to the Mead Lovers Digest on pasteurization and boiling the honey must, thought it would be helpful here:

Subject: Heating the Honey Must
From: Dan McFeeley
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 11:54:48 -0600

There has been discussion in the past on the virtues of boiling or heating the honey must on this list, and I thought some information from John White's chapter on honey in _The Hive and the Honey Bee_ (Dadant Publication, 1975) might be helpful.

From what I can see, the benefits of boiling the honey must are meads that clear more easily due to the denaturing of the proteins that cause haze. The scum that comes to the surface can be skimmed, resulting in a cleaner must. The disadvantages are an alteration of the flavor of the mead from the high temperatures used in order to boil the must, and a driving off of the volatile components that add bouquet and the more delicate honey flavors to the mead.

John White cited research by G. F. Townsend in 1939 examining variations in temperature and time needed to kill off five vegetative forms of wild yeasts found in honey (at 18.6 % moisture). White drew up a table which was calculated from the data in Townsend's article. This is the table (p. 513) below:

Time at Indicated Temperature Temperature
470 min 123 F
170 130
60 135
22 140
7.5 145
2.8** 150
1.0** 155

** Extrapolated from logarithmic curve constructed from Townsend's data

White suggests heating honey at 140 F for 30 minutes in order to eliminate wild yeasts in the honey that cause fermentation, should the moisture level rise high enough to allow the yeasts to stir from their inactive state. For anyone who is interested, this is the citation for Townsend's article:

Townsend, G. F. 1939. "Time and Temperature in
Relation to the Destruction of Sugar Tolerant Yeasts
in Honey." J. Econ. Entomol. 32:650-654.

Dan McFeeley
02-21-2005, 05:00 AM
Oh yeah, I need to add an additional data point here: Roger Morse's work in 1953 showed that boiling the honey must reduced the nutrient levels available for the yeasties.

02-21-2005, 12:32 PM
Wow! That's great info Dan. Thanks for digging it up!

Muirghein Tarot
05-28-2006, 11:35 AM
havent tried boiling the honey yet but I do boil the water. drives off the tape water taste some and is a good time to add tea for tanins. Shut off the heat, let it steep for a few then pour warmed up honey into the water.Stir like mad then when it cools below 100 I put into a carboy

10-23-2007, 12:16 AM
I have always gone al natural, pardon the expression, when starting my meads. I only bring it up to 170* and immediately take it off the heat. If I wanted pasturized honey, I would have stock in Krogers. I just use 110* bottled spring water for the yeast, let them go for an hour or so and then into the carboy where the strained must is waiting.
I've always been careful with sanitation and had no infections yet (knocking on wood...).
To get rid of the tap water taste, use bottle spring water, it has minerals the yeasts may need.
Just my .02 worth.


10-23-2007, 12:42 AM

You are in practice pasteurizing your honey at 170 degrees F, and more than likely seriously depleting your yeast when rehydrating at 110 degrees F, and letting them sit for an hour in the water. Yeast should generally be rehydrated at 104 degrees max, and let to stand for a max of about 1/2 hour, otherwise they deplete any nutrient included in the dried yeast contained in the packet. Once any traces of nutrient are depleted the health and vigor of your newly rehydrated yeast decline somewhat rapidly and at an hour you're pitching yeast that are well below optimal fermentation capacity.

I suggest that you tap into the resources here at Got Mead and examine the information on yeast rehydration and boiling/pasteurizing vs no-heat. I think you'll find it very helpful.



10-23-2007, 01:36 AM
Isn't the kind of mead also a factor in determining the method used to prepare the must?

I sectioned my own apples, juiced them to be combined with honey as the must. The apples were from the tree in the backyard, no pesticide whatsoever. Some of them have bugs inside. So, I sectioned them, get the good parts for juicing. It took a long time and I felt I better pasturizing the must or risk contamination. I guess if you only use honey, the contamination is less likely, pasturizing may not be necessary.

What's your thought?

10-23-2007, 02:16 PM
Again, with honey or not pasteurization is not necessary.

As long as you're using good santization practices, fresh juice/must and a properly rehydrated appropriate yeast strain you will generally not have issues with "cold-pitching"

The active dry yeast *ADY) strains manufactured today are made to overwhelm and outcompete any natural flora. This is why you don't see me adding DAP, Nutrient or other "enhancers to the must when I make a mead recipe. By adding nutrient to the must you give the natural flora a foothold to where they may be able to put up a bit of a fight against your team (yeast that you're pitching)

Many of the ADY strains including D47, EC-1118, K1-V1116, etc have an active killer factor as well which means that they secrete a mitochondrial protien that kills off other sensitive yeasts (which many of the natural yeasts are). The selected ADY strain is also more tolerant to alcohol, divides faster and populates more quickly and are more tolerant of higher gravity musts, as well as taking off like a rocket in lower gravity musts.

Follow proper sanitization with all of your equipment (including presses, buckets, hands, clothing, etc) and you won't have problems. This extends, by the way, to processing your must once it's inoculated. Sanitize that stirring spoon, hydrometer, sample glass, wine thief, and anything else that comes in contact with your must EVERY time, no exceptions. Once your fermenter is airlocked make sure when you take a sample that you only have it open as long as it takes to pull your sample and close it back up immediately. I take the additional precaution of flaming the mouth of the carboy when I pull samples so I don't transfer any microbes that may have settled onto it during the fermentation period.

It's all about proper aseptic technique and proper fermentation management. Pasteurization was necessary in the past, and there are sometimes when I do pasteurize my must, but those are generally for specific recipes that are re-creations of older recips, or if they are targeted at a crowd that prefer the flavor or pasteurized mead.

Take a chance . . . Custer did!


10-23-2007, 05:25 PM

In case you didn't read the post you'll see no mention that chemicals are necessary either. I don't use sulfites, I don't pasteurize and I don't boil, I just make sure I'm following proper sanitization.


10-24-2007, 12:40 AM
I was not taking a shot at your post I was giving my feelings on the matter of pasturizing mead must.

10-24-2007, 05:22 AM
I was not taking a shot at your post I was giving my feelings on the matter of pasturizing mead must.

And, I think if you will look at Oskaars posts (and so many, many others) that you can do what you want. But most of us will testify (yeah brother, I will stand and testify! Get down!) that while it might make you feel comfortable, which is good, it's an unnecessary step.

Have you ever tried the alternative or are you set in your ways just because of what you have read or expect?

Experimentation is a good thing. Form your opinions on experience rather than fear or hearsay. And not just on mead.

Personally, I HAVE explored many fermentation methods. Not a single infection in 5 years and 15 batches now for mead and 12 years for beer. Nuff said.

But, if it makes you feel good, do it!

Take a chance, Custer did! (sorry Oskaar!)

10-24-2007, 09:08 AM
Just to answer this one for myself, I think I will experiment. I have never boiled my honey before, so it will be interesting to see the difference. I have 5 lbs of spare honey (Wildflower), two 1 gallon jugs, and some D47 yeast. I will make two batches using identical methods, except that I will boil one batch. Then we will see how the fermentation progresses and what it tastes like in a year.

I will post the results, but it might be an idea for others to try this themselves to determine what method you prefer. Neither is wrong, but the results will determine which method makes a Mead that I like.


11-28-2007, 11:31 AM
Hello everyone. My first batches were boiled because I read you should skim the scum off the top. Usually, there wasn't much scum to talk about. Later I realized that most mead makers were using "raw" honey and I was using store bought honey. The only honey that I can afford. I realized that maybe this kind of honey is filtered. So, I started to bring the water to a boil but only added enough water to melt the honey. Then I would add bottle water ('cause tap water here has no Minerals and a neutral ph) at room temp and shorten my prep time. Of course, I ensured that everything was CLEANED and SANITIZED. I'm not a chemist or an expert, but I do believe that most people prefer "the biggest bang for the buck", convenience, and quality. Too, the experts in food prep agree that overcooking or boiling foods like vegetables too long causes the nutrients to disapate. Could this be true for honey? So I don't boil or pasterize my honey. Now, I spend less time in preparation, less money and still get a product that puts a smile on my face. Too, I only use two types of yeast. I use 1116 and 1118. That statement doesn't mean that I won't try something new. I love experimenting. What works and doesn't work and keeping notes. So, the only things that change in my recipes are usually the additives. Will it be a pyment or a braggot?

"To each his own." I perfer using hot water to melt the honey and using cold or room temp water to bring the must down to 80 or below. Really, I think that it's more an issue of O2 especially if you are using 1116 than unwanted yeast development.