View Full Version : First Batch

03-16-2005, 01:21 AM
So I've got my first batch of mead under way...and I hope to hell I did it right.

One question: I heated the water, then added the honey like I'd read. Though when I was heating that, I never got very much foam like I was expecting, to be skimmed off. Now - I was very concerned about burning the honey, or boiling the must, so I don't think I ever really got it to simmer...just very hot.

I also used a local honey - but bought it commercially packaged at my local grocery store.

Did I not heat the must well enough, or did I get no foam because the honey is most likely already pasteurized or filtered to within an inch of its life?

03-16-2005, 01:47 AM
Can you clarify something for us? Did you just add honey to hot water or did you continue the heating after the honey was added? Do you know the temp?

As for did you heat it well enough we would probably need to know the temp it was heated to and the duration it was at the temp.

The question about pasteurization and filters would have to be asked of the bee keeper, he is likely the only one who knows for sure.

Also note that you don't HAVE to heat the honey at all. I have only ever heated one batch (like you my first) and none after. I have never had any problems. There are many others on this board that don't use any heat.

Not that there is anything wrong with heating it, but before you decide if you want to regularly search the forums here and you will find some arguments for and against both methods. After that is a personal preference type of thing.

03-16-2005, 01:47 AM
Doh! Sorry for the double post.

Welcome to the board and the hobby!

03-16-2005, 01:53 AM
Thanks for the welcome.

I heated the water, added the honey and then heated it again for a long time. I knew I'd read recipes where you didn't have to heat at all, so I figured best to err on the side of not heating enough rather than risk burning it.

I don't know how hot it got, and I don't really know how long I heated it.

I'm just curious...it can't really matter - if this was a batch I didn't heat at all I wouldn't have been skimming any foam, so no big deal.

IF I had gotten foam to skim - what's that like? A little fuzz on top? Huge bubbling piles of foam rising up off it? I just didn't really know what to expect.

03-16-2005, 05:09 PM
I heat my water to 170F, remove the heat, then add the honey while stirring madly with a whisk. If I did not stir I would likely not get much foam since the water isn't really hot enough to be simmering. The foam produced is a lot like the suds you get in dishwater when adding water from the faucets, except slightly more compact and heavier. I also does not pop or go away very easily.

I know we have discussed the heating versus non-heating issue on other threads and it is mostly a matter of personal preference. My selection to heat is driven by something I was told or read (though I do not remember where now).. One of the things that foams out of the honey is a substance that I believe is called ?albumin? I was told that the process of fermentation or the yeast act upon the albumin and creates a substance that is very much like kerosene. I figure it is best to get that sort of taste out of the mead. That may or may not be true, but I also get the additional benefit of having sterilized must and less chance of infection going into the must to begin with.

But there are arguments on the other side about lost aroma and taste so I'll beat Oskaar to it and tell you it is a matter of personal taste. Whatever works for you...

03-16-2005, 07:22 PM
The one batch I heated I brought up to 180 and held it there for about 15 minutes (might have been 20). The 'scum' was pretty obvious when you looked at it. Seemed to be a very thin layer floating on top that was easy to skim off. I skimmed probably 8-10 times over the course of the whole thing.

Does anyone know if sterilizing the must is necessary? Obviously there may be some wile yeasties but what about bacterias? After reading Perter's comments I am a little unsure. I could have sworn I read somewhere that honey is actually pretty darn sterile and in fact had been used on wounds as a sterile and protective barrier.

03-16-2005, 09:17 PM
All that protein and stuff that is skimmed off in heating is fodder for the yeasts. Its like cooking vegatables. The more you cook it the less enzymes, vitamins, and food value is left. Yeast like vitamins, food value and enzymes too.

03-16-2005, 09:45 PM
I'm with Joe.

I don't cook/pasteurize/boil anything but beer anymore. Based on my nose and tastebuds, there is a richness in character, aroma and flavor that are more prounounced in uncooked mead.



03-16-2005, 09:56 PM
Thank you all - this is really great information, and is making me feel much better about my mead.

I've been doing lots of reading here and will be trying Joe's Ancient Orange this Sunday when we brew beer. My husband can't quite understand my interest in making mead...but if the Ancient Orange is as good as everyone's saying, maybe he'll change his mind!

03-16-2005, 10:29 PM
I've gone from one extream to another. When I first started making mead in college I used to cook my must at a full ROLLING boil for an HOUR. I would stand there and skim every stinkin' drop of foam that came to the surface. Now I just dump everything into my carboy at room temp and shake.

To answer your question...no sterilizing the must is certainly not necessary...there are plenty of us here on this forum who do not sterilize and have never had a problem. That being said, yes honey does contain both yeast and bacteria; however it also has antimicrobial properties that keep these organisms from multiplying. One being its high osmotic pressure, and the other being the fact that there are enzymes in honey that break down some of the sugars and produce acids and peroxide, both of which are antibacterial. So they honey itself is not sterile, its just antibacterial. In fact honey is usually contaminated with many soil organisms such as clostridium botulinum (which incidentally can cause botulism in babies; this is why bottles of honey always say not to feed it to infants). However, none of this is a problem if you have a nice health fermentation which will quickly and easily out compete any of these bugs.

03-16-2005, 10:43 PM
Hey JoeM, thanks for the clarification. Like I said earlier I only even heated that first batch and none since. I have not had any problems either. Being a father of 3 (9 months being the youngest) I am well aware of the 'no honey' rule but I never actually knew why before.

What is my reason for not heating? I would like to say because that I believe that it drives off some of the delicate flavors and aromatics, and I do agree with that, but the single biggest reason is probably because I am lazy. It is so much easier, cleaner, and quicker to not heat the honey. Sure, you there is risk there with wild yeasts and what not but to me that risks don't out weigh the benefits of not heating.