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  1. Default Can decent Mead be made by wet honey that has fermented?

    I have helped a Beekeeper in business for the last 6 years stay afloat, and the offspring or our relationship was that I sold his raw honey.

    5 of the last 6 years, his honey quality was great. Last year and this year--very wet honey--21 to 24% moisture. Last year he got sloppy and convinced me that the high moisture in the honey was okay. It wasn't and I now have 50 to 60 --5 gallon buckets of fermented honey that I'm not sure what to do with. I would like to save the honey if I can-- make mead with it, but I have to ask you guys first. Can this be done? Is it reasonable to proceed. I don't know how it smells, some leaked from the top of the buckets--not much. So, do I get rid of the honey to bear hunters or make a ton of mead?

    Thanks in advance for your guidance.

  2. #2

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    Do you think it's fermented throughout the entire buckets or just on top? Is it all wet or has it crystalized some and it's wet above the crystals? Taste it to see how it tastes and smell it as well. I don't expect wild yeast will go very high so you should at least try fermenting some. You could use a strain that has a kill factor> although if you use enough yeast they should still overwhelm the wild stuff. I would use 2 grams a gallon and rehydrate with Goferm as well. What kind of honey is it? Tasting notes for the honey?
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply.
    I'm in Florida for the winter and the honey is in Maine.
    I was so disappointed, that I relied on my bottling partner to smell it since he had the time to open most of them. I was also hospitalized most of last summer, so the honey just sat there. Out of all the buckets, just a few have leaked honey from the top. But, I want to use the worst case scenario , and say that it has all fermented.

    Assuming the worst, can mead still be made?

    The honey is mostly Clover, Blueberry and maybe some Goldenrod

  4. #4

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    I would surely think so if it's ok to make mead with it if it's good enough to eat.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  5. Default

    Anyone with first hand knowledge on making mead with fermented honey?

  6. #6

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    Hi - I don't have first hand experience with it, and anyone here who does may not have had the same situation as you. Some things we don't know is what exactly is fermenting - e.g. what if malolactic bacteria, or brettanomyces got in there as well? I know the GotMead member loveofrose was doing some experiments with isolating and using wild yeast strains, so he may be someone to talk to (possibly try via www.denardbrewing.com).

    All I can offer is what I would do. Mead is likely possible as long as there is residual sugar.

    For any of the honey that I know/think is partially fermented, I'd try an experiment. Before that though, I might actually taste the honey that is in question. I could use about 5 quarts worth, make a 5-6 gallon batch, and I'm only risking some of my time, and the yeast and go-ferm costs at this point as the honey isn't sell-able. If it kicks off good and everything smells and tastes alright, I can risk the small costs of adding nutrients, and just take it a step at a time. I might even try a smaller batch just to get an idea of how it might taste. You might even end up with a rare flavor profile that is awesome (think positive ).

    If you pitch enough yeast to overcome any of the wild yeast, you should be OK. Another tactic I might take is adding k-meta to the must after mixing it and letting it set for 24 hours (sealed) before pitching any yeast. My thinking here is that maybe I can knock out enough wild yeast to give the yeast I'm using a better chance.

    As Squatchy said, pick a yeast that has a killer factor.

    Please let us know what you end up doing, and/or find out.

  7. Default

    4give
    I think that is solid advice.
    I think what I am going to do is ship one bucket from Northern Maine to a friend (that lives in a yurt) in Vermont, to do some testing. He has made me some great mead using good honey, with your suggestions, I'll ask him to try.
    Thanks so much for your help, and I will keep you advised of the results. I would hate to use all that honey for bear bait.

    A thought just came to me. If you want to do a test, I can send you 3-5 pound jugs (more if you think you need it), you can do the testing, you keep the product, share with me the results?

    Drop and punt engineering?

    Just let me know.

    Thanks

  8. #8

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    Tunajohn, I'd probably do a test if I had more of my containers available. I've been ramping up the 'mead machine' so I'm not running out, and to get through my own experiments as well. It will be another 8 weeks or so.

    Out of curiosity, have you smelled and tasted any of the buckets that seem to be in fermentation mode? (sorry if I missed that in a previous post)

  9. Default

    4give
    I did not smell it.
    I was demobilized with a broken leg and other health issues for the last 7 months, and so frustrated with what my Amish partner told me about the fermentation, that, no I did not smell it--he did though. Now I'm in Florida until late May. I expect to talk to him this week and will find out about the oder. (hard to talk to the Amish when they don't have phones)

    I have no problem waiting 8 weeks.
    About how long will it take to have a clue whether it is salvageable?
    And, if you want to experiment with this, just let me know what quantity of honey to send you.

  10. #10

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    Well, I don't know about time on determining if it's salvageable. There are a lot of unknowns based on your description. If it is truly fermenting, it will probably keep doing so and only get worse. It sounds like you have 50+ 5 gallon buckets of honey. If it was me, I'd check every bucket and separate them out into 3 categories - something like: perfectly fine, unsure (maybe partially fermented), and not good.

    I would assume that the 'not good' version would smell/taste yeasty, fermented, maybe even bitter or sour. It may even have mold in it if there's enough moisture in the bucket.

    I've seen some pics of fermented jars where you could tell that probably only the top half of the crystalized honey was tainted, and the rest was likely fine. I think this is what Squatchy was alluding to as well. If you have 50 buckets with the top 50% tainted, then you may still have quite a bit of perfectly fine honey to make mead with (you'd want to remove the tainted honey.

    As far as testing it goes, it's probably only applicable if the honey doesn't have any off smells/flavors because that could come through in the mead. I think that's also why Squatchy was asking for tasting notes.

  11. #11

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    I expect this will go full circle to what I said. We'll see. If it's good enough to eat it ok to make mead with.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  12. Default

    Smell description-- as told to me by Amish farmer that has the honey.

    * souring
    * smells a little like vegetables
    * Smells like corn silage --which is usually wet--and slight sour smell

    Its kind of interesting to me that the bottom half of these buckets may be good.
    As of now, it looks like I'll have to open these one at a time and make a judgement. Will be back to Maine in Mid-May.

    I'm wondering if heating them up (maybe homogenize it) in a large water pot (we can fit 3-5 gal buskets at a time in this) for several hours trying to evorperate the moisture would help? May have to give this a test in the next few weeks.

    Any other thoughts?
    I imagine it can always be fed back to the bees--although I would not like to do this.

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