View Full Version : Sediment

12-04-2004, 07:41 PM
Hi all,

Today my mead is what I belive to be done in the primary, I have racked into secondary, and was wondering if I am supposed to leave the sediment behinde in the primary or if I add it to the secondary. Also, when in secondary can I add some more honey if my mead tastes too dry?


12-04-2004, 08:45 PM
I would leave the lees behind since you are wanting to sweeten it. There will still be some suspended yeast present but the main idea is too leave the trubb or dead lees on the bottom behind in the primary. I know some people bring them with them but that to me would be a waste of a racking. Yes you can add honey to secondary.

12-04-2004, 09:44 PM
Hey Skinner,

Like Joe said, leave the lees behind. When you rack from primary to secondary you are trying to lessen (in most cases, not all) the amount of yeast in your suspension (must/mead) so when you are siphoning your mead to another vessel for seconday you want to leave the trub (lees, dead yeasties, etc.) behind.

When you add honey to your secondary make sure to watch it closely and tasted (or take gravity) readings at a regular interval.



12-05-2004, 11:19 AM
Hi guys...
I did this to 3 of my mead gallons... and put them from their 1 gallon pickle jar w/latex glove to a 1 gallon jug w/air lock.
The airlocks stayed level for about a day or two... then foam began to form along the outside of the surface.. and within 5 days... the airlock showed signs that there was still some action going on with the yeast. The foam has completely dissapeared...
My question is... now that it's in it's secondary.... how much fermentation action can I expect?
How much longer til it is finished?.... these are meads that were made about Oct. 24th.

:-* Suzy Q, Brewmistress

12-05-2004, 04:40 PM

And when adding more honey, is it best to dissolve the honey in a little water ? or am I fine adding it strait?

Thanks guys.

12-05-2004, 06:43 PM
Adding honey: do neither. Take out some of the must, mix the honey in that, then add back in. That way you get the best of both - honey is mixed, and you haven't diluted the must.

12-05-2004, 08:14 PM
didnt think of that :P


12-05-2004, 09:00 PM

an hydrometer will tell you what fermentables are left. No change in Specific Gravity over a couple of days (or a week) means it's stopped.

They can sit for months then decide to start up again, especially if the temperature gets warmer.

Racking off the lees sometimes pauses/halts fermentation since most of the yeast is taken away, but it can start up again after some hours/days (months?) if there is something left for the yeast and the %Alc is not too high for the yeast.

How long? - what you least expect :-/

Another factor is the amount of CO2 in solution. Sometimes it can look like fermentation, but is just the CO2 coming out of solution. Some people stir the must to force the CO2 out of solution. I haven't, but if you are in a hurry, it can help to produce a still mead quicker - just avoid adding oxygen by being too violent.

12-07-2004, 04:58 PM
JamesP wrote that you could simply dissolve honey into the nearly finished mead to sweeten it. The best of both worlds. The mead gets sweeter and you don't delute it either. I really like this idea but it brings up one question. Isn't there a chance of contamination from unwanted bacteria/yeast/mold? During the preparation of the must we go through great pains to kill off as many of these nasties as possible. It seems that adding raw honey to the mead would intoduce the very buggers we worked so hard not to let get a foot hold in the must. Or at this point in fermenation we can rely on the alcohol to preserve the mead?


12-07-2004, 07:15 PM
If the %Alc is around 12% or more, then usually not a problem.

You can also use Meta-bisulfite to help keep nasties at bay, but that's your choice.

12-09-2004, 08:52 AM
Be careful...

I am told that the ABV has to be about 16 percent or more to be truly safe from contaminants. I suppose there might even be some nasties that tolerate levels even higher than that. I guess the caution is that 12 percent may prevent some nasties but 16 percent is considered the safe threshold. Obviously, more alcohol is better prevention regardless of the level...

Everclear is probably entirely safe! ::)

12-09-2004, 03:06 PM
JamesP suggestion is good one. Honey is an antibacterial.

The nasties don't usually come from the honey. If there are any wild yeasts in it they will die out in the alcohol. No bacteria should be alive in the honey. Thats why you can store it without refrigeration almost indefinitly without bacteria spoilage.

You are more likely to get contamination from your water supply than your honey.

12-09-2004, 03:37 PM
I agree 100% with Joe M on this one

12-09-2004, 04:20 PM
Just for information sake (as I’ve been known to do)...70% ethanol is actually the most effective concentration for killing microbes, better even than 100% (or 95% if we're talking about everclear).

Honey actually does contain a good amount of live bacteria. The bacteria cannot grow in the honey because the osmotic pressure is so high and they are suppressed by the peroxide found in honey. In fact the reason you can't (or shouldn’t) feed honey to infants is because it quite often contains Clostridium botulinum (the bacteria that causes botulism). Adult immune systems have no problem irradicating the bacteria from the gut (its the toxin that causes botulism not the bacteria), but the infant immune system cant handle it and it can kill them.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying that unpasteurized honey will ruin your mead, I use unpasteurized honey in my meads quite often, but you are definitely introducing organisms when you do so.

12-09-2004, 08:26 PM
While I have to agree with JoeM's last post as being factual in that there may be contamination in honey such as pollen, bee parts and spores and some bacteria, especially from secondary contamination, and especially in unprocessed honey, I have found using it without pastuerization poses no health risk for adults. Bacteria does not replicate in honey. Contamination is usually from handling or a secondary source. The National Honey Board produces an abstract that says "No vegetative forms of disease-causing bacterial species have been found in honey."

The antibacterial properites of honey are well documented and the bacteria that does survive in the honey when you backsweeten usually faces certain death when entering the alcohol properties of mead at a content of greater than 10%abv. Sulfites are a natural by-product of fermentation, therefore, all wines and meads contain some sulfites. This also adds a margin of safety. Yet, I still stand by the statement that it is still more likely that a batch will be infected by secondary contamination by the meadmakers sanitary practices and procedures than by the unpastuerized honey itself.

Personally, after 36 batches, 30 of which use no pastuerization or sulfites in the starting must which contains unprocessed honey from Dutch Gold, I have no reservations or fear of infecting the mead with the honey.


12-10-2004, 04:51 AM
Agreed…however, I would advise against giving such a mead to infants under the age of 1 ;)

12-10-2004, 06:21 AM

For those of you who boil and think that you are destroying Clostridium botulinum during the boil process, think again. Clostridium sp. are an anaerobic spore former, and the spores are what you have to worry about.

About 70% of botulism poisoning cases are infants 1 - 8 months old who have eaten honey. Honey often contains (about 1 in 10 tested honey samples) the spores of C. botulinum. These are destroyed in adults by the acidic juices of the stomach. Since the stomach of infants is less acidic than adults, spores are not destroyed and can lead to botulism poisoning. The remaining adult cases of poisoning are overwhelmingly the results of home canning accidents. Never eat from a warped can or a jar with a warped lid. From what I've read as I type this there are about 100 cases of botulism poisoning a year in the USA.

In order to kill off the spores from C. botulinum, you must boil at 239 degrees F for 20 minutes. There are some studies that indicate the boiling must be done under pressure, which would make sense considering the temperature.

C. botulinum produces a toxic protien (exotoxin) which has a neurotoxic effect on humans.

So the big question is why we don't see more cases of botulism poisoning in meads? Well, if there is some kind of botulism infection in your mead or must, you'll know it pretty quickly because these particular bacteria produce a really nasty smell, and a dark discoloration under the surface of the infected media, in this case mead or must.

Also don't forget that the bacteria themselves are anaerobic so the heavy oxygenation of the must during preparation will help to cull them if they are present in your honey.



12-10-2004, 10:49 AM
thanks oskaar, good info 8)

12-13-2004, 12:13 PM
Thanks everyone for their replies. I knew some of the more experienced of you would have good answers to my original question.

I am also very familiar with home canning (been doing it for 20 years, haven't poisened myself or anyone else yet) and understand how careful you must be with C. botulinum. As in wine making, home canning procedures when dealing with low acid produce require that you keep everything as clean as possible. The time duration and high temperatures used during pressure cooking kills most of the spores.

I would like to add that C. botulinum is generally not concidered an issue when canning fruits, only vegetables. C. botulinum can not replicate or produce spore in a low PH environment. My "guess" is this is why we do not see C. botulinum as a source of problems in bottled wines/meads as the PH is usually low in these as well. Put that together with the alchohol content and there very likely is an environment that is quite hostile to most bacteria.

I hadn't really thought it through until some of the replies started coming in. Thanks. :)