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  1. #1
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    Question Do you have this book?

    "The compleat Meadmaker" by Ken Schramm.

    I am reading the recipe on page 30, with instructions on page 31 concerning heating the must. I read that you add the honey to boiling water. And you should keep it at above 150 degrees for ten minutes. It makes it sound that after adding the honey, you should take a temp of something like 160 degrees. But after I add the honey, my reading dips to around 130. So am I to add heat to get it back up?

    I then read about commercially blended honey on page 98 and it mentions "The drawback to much commercially blended honey is that it has been heat pastuerized, albeit at temps in the 145 degree F (63 C) range.

    I thought that adding the honey to the boiled water, and pastuerizing, was the whole reason that the recipe calls for it. So why the ding on commercial honey? I can see other reasons, but whether its pastuerized at the store or you do it, is there a difference?

    Are people making mead without heating the must(?), something like 1 gallon water to 15 pounds of honey, pastuerizing this and then adding to the other 3 gallons of cold water in the fermenter, as the recipe calls for.

    Do you need to heat the must?

  2. #2
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    Whew, that's a whole can of worms . People have lots of strongly held opinions on this, varying from no treatments at all to pasteurizing to sulfiting to boiling. Pasteurizing must (as opposed to honey) is generally thought to be a reasonable compromise between bug control and not abusing the honey. Pasteurization is a function of temperature over time, so the lower the temp the longer to effectively pasteurize. I don't think 130 would be an effective temp even with extended time, but I'd have to look that up (been awhile).

    I suspect one difference is that heating honey will inevitably cause some degree of caramelization due to its viscosity, and Maillard reactions will progress rapidly in so dense a medium, darkening the honey and changing the flavor. This will happen to some extent with must but not nearly as much.

    It's largely a matter of opinion and experience re: pasteurizing (or other sanitization regimens). With clean equipment, well-treated honey and healthy, vigorous, well-pitched and aerated yeast of adequate cell counts, the yeast will outcompete many of the organisms that we worry about. Nonetheless, every honey has some degree of osmophilic wild yeasts in it. Wild yeasts are ubiquitous on Earth, and mazers need to decide how much treatment is enough to balance the effort of combating them with the risk to the mead with the risk of having them contribute (perhaps negatively) to the finished mead.

    Personally, I pasteurize sometimes and also just control the variables to the best of my ability and pitch cold sometimes. I do propagate my yeast in media I specially prepare and sterile-pack myself, continuously aerate with filtered air, and have a biological nature so I baby my yeast pretty shamefully . I'm also a very effective sanitizer of equipment and environment if I do say so.

    This is an area where in many mazer circles (Beesource, predictably, is more civil and respectful than many) where some opinions are so strongly held that some folks "wouldn't touch a sulfited/boiled/whatevered mead if you held a gun to my head" or whatever. The truth is wonderful meads are made in any number of ways; each has its benefits and detractions.
    Bees, brews and fun
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  3. #3
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    I have it & like it less than I hoped I would. I noticed a couple discrepancies in the descriptions & botanical names of herbs. Once I know there is an error in a book, I tend to wonder what else is wrong.

    Grumpy, maybe, but that's how I think.

  4. #4
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    Hi Beaglady,

    Did you read this thread?

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=213684

  5. #5
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    Ken's a good guy and the book's a great resource, but it of course has its limitations. For example I for one am not into frantic pH adjustment like he recommends. IMO good yeast management will prevent 90% of stuck ferments that a pH problem might've caused.

    Few single sources are ever adequate for ALL the info on a topic. That's why we have Beesource!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
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    >"The compleat Meadmaker" by Ken Schramm.

    I heard him give a presentation on mead making on June 19, 2004 here in Mead, Nebraska (an interesting irony) at the UNL Value Added Products Workshop. He was quite adamant that heating, while it gives good control over what bugs are there, would damage the flavor a lot and therefore he usually just relied on the yeast he added being more osmophillic and therefore more at home in the watered down honey, where the naturally occurring yeasts on honey are very sugar tolerant yeasts. This does seem at odds with what is in his book, which leads me to believe, although I have no proof, that he changed his mind over time, perhaps after the book was in publication?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
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    I must have a different book than everyone here.

    Page 41-42 discusses heat. Lower in sulfites section on page 42 he says "I have not heated or boiled my musts for several years now, nor do I use sulfite any my musts. In all that time, I have not produced one batch that I would categorize as infected or otherwise adversely affected." The next page then discusses the no heat method he uses. Throughout the whole topic though, he reminds you to religiously sanatize everything and anything.

    Every book has errors, it's simply a lot of information compacted into one location and hard not to screw up. For most books authors have to cover areas they aren't technical experts in so the book can provided a well rounded set of information. So you have the manuscript checked, editors check and change things, then the real world changes as we learn more. With popular books that's why new revitions or editions are released. Just look at "The Hive and the Honey Bee". (ok not recently, but it's been revised since the first release)
    www.geekfarmlife.com -- Geek.Farm.Life Podcast, The story of two geeks who move to the country, what could go wrong?

  8. #8
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    >"I have not heated or boiled my musts for several years now, nor do I use sulfite any my musts. In all that time, I have not produced one batch that I would categorize as infected or otherwise adversely affected."

    That's what he said at the workshop. Of course, I don't have the book...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
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    Andrew...this is fine if one wants to mention several ways of doing something. My point was not whether he heated or not, whether he recommends or not, or wants information to be "well rounded." I agree, I want to hear of all the methods.

    The point that was made, was his suggestion in the opening recipe involving heating the must, and then later suggesting that commercial "pastuerized" honey is no good. And he does no justification or explaination as to why the commercial honey is not suitable for mead. To say, after you recommend pastuerizing the must, that commercial honey is not good due to pastuerizing, is a little misleading.

    On page 41, he also states that "Dr. Jonathan White of the United States Department of Agriculture (retired) did a tremendous amount of research on honey and concluded that the amount of heat exposure needed to kill off the wild yeast in honey is as little as five minutes at 150 degrees (66 C) or about 22 minutes at 140 degrees (60 C). I recommend the lower and slower approach."

    When your commenting on studies, and clearly "recommending" in print, a suggested way of doing something, fine. But then at least explain why he then feels it so important to distinguish at a later point, the fact that commercial honey has drawbacks.

    He states that he does not heat his must. I basically get from all this is that it has to do with sanitation. And if through cleanliness, he (Or anyone else) can get by without heating the must, then I guess its something to consider.

    But I get the sense that his ding on commercial patuerized honey has nothing to do with cleanliness. But he does does not mention enzymes, beneficial bacteria or other compounds, or benefits.

    If it all comes down to cleanliness....wouldn't pastuerized honey be a plus? If you did not heat your must, how could pastuerized honey be seen as a negative?

    Certainly I have no plans on buying supermarket honey. But if there is a reason it was important enough to trash commercial pastuerized honey, then it should be more then whether he heats his must. But no reasoning was given. And after all the emphasis on cleanliness, I don't get how pastuerized honey could be seen as a negative.

    I see this as trashing something we all like to trash (commercial blended honey)...but without the explaination. I don't agree with that approach.
    Last edited by BjornBee; 10-01-2007 at 05:54 AM.

  10. #10
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    Bjorn, I had the same thought when reading Schramm's book. He gives details on heating the honey, says he doesn't do it, then cracks of store-bought honey for precisely heat treating the honey. ?????

    I don't heat the honey or must at all and, with the few batches I've done, I have had no problems. Sanitation is key, as Ben stated. I supppose if you find an error or two in a publication, it could cause you to doubt the whole of the author's work. On this type of reading, I generally separate the wheat from the chaff and appreciate what nuggets of information I am able to glean and then let my subsequent experiences be my guide. All in all, I find The Compleat Meadmaker to be a good source for the concept of mead making. There aren't that many out there. This forum and gotmead.com, along with my local winemaking supplier, have been the best sources of all. Good luck with your meadmaking. Keep us posted.
    I've found it easier to keep bees than keep relationships. At least when I'm stung by bees I know why.

  11. #11
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    This isn't that complicated, geez. =)

    He wants to give you the best chance of success on your first batch. If you spend a couple of hours making something, racking it, and waiting 6 months for it to be ready to find out it went off, you probably won't make more. While not heating the honey may make a superior mead, it's also more risky. For a first timer this is the safe approach. Maybe I read between the lines?
    www.geekfarmlife.com -- Geek.Farm.Life Podcast, The story of two geeks who move to the country, what could go wrong?

  12. #12
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    Andrew,
    You need to be reading between the correct two lines......

  13. #13
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    The chief problem with commercial honey is that it has lost its varietal flavors. In my opinion this is not do to pastuerization but because the honey is typically mixed based on color. If you buy premium monofloral sources of honey, this is not typically a problem. As for my methods, I typically pay close attention to container and instrument sanitation, boil all water, salts and nutrients. I then place the appropriate amount of honey into boiling hot water. I sometimes use metasulfites when certain unboiled additives like fruit are used in the primary rather than the secondary fermenter. The most important things are to use high quality water, honey, and to sanitize everything. Sloppy work, bad fermentations and poor ingredients gives variable and often undrinkable mead. Patience is also really important.

  14. #14
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    Also, boiling gives unparalelleled clarity and makes more nutrients available to the yeast (and also reduces dissolved oxygen).

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