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I was reading a very simple orange/cinnamon mead recipe that called for sanitizing equipment, but then nothing was mentioned about sanitizing ingredients (honey, orange slices, raisins). Is this flirting with failure or am I being too concerned about such an issue?
I'm new to mead making and have so far, started 3 small (2 gal) batches of melomel. In all cases I used camden tablets in my original must and waited to pitch yeast for 24 hours.
I'd appreciate hearing advice from you guys with experience.
Thanx,
Dale
 

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There's a spectrum of feelings about sanitizing ingredients, many strongly-held. Check out the stickied "Into to Meadmaking" thread for an overview, but they range from sulfite (like Campden tablets), to no sanitizing to pasteurizing (holding at sub-boil temps for a period of time) to outright boiling. All have pros and cons. For newer mazers, I think pasteurizing is a good compromise.
 

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I've made a few melomels and I add the unsanitized fruit to the secondary.Never had a bad batch.The secret is to have a strong primary fermentation.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Many a mel I have made, always added the fruit at the 1/3 sugar break. Alcohol % is high enought to take care of any hitchers
Andrew and Jack,

I understand your answers. However, does the simple honey/water must have enough nutrient value to sustain a strong fermentation? My past few batches have included added yeast nutrient, but I read somewhere that this adds a slight off taste. I was looking for a recipe that leaves out the (artificial) nutrient.

Maybe this is a more appropriate question: What is in the powdered yeast nutrient? (mine is called Fermax) Is there really any reason to want to leave it out?

Thanx for the help.

Dale
 

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Depends on a few things. Yeast have a lot of what they need on board already; if properly rehydrated (in water not juice, allowed to reconstitute at temperature, etc) they can do a pretty good job with no further ado. When nutes help are in high-gravity, low-pH or otherwise stressful musts, less vigorous strains, etc.

NEVER add nutrients according to a recipe! If you use a different manufacturer, you may be tripling or quintupling the dosage. I typically use nutes only if I think the mead needs help (no fruits, stressful as described above, old yeast, etc) and then only at half-strength. If there are problems later, I make a strong starter and re-pitch vigorous yeast.
 

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Andrew and Jack,

I understand your answers. However, does the simple honey/water must have enough nutrient value to sustain a strong fermentation? My past few batches have included added yeast nutrient, but I read somewhere that this adds a slight off taste. I was looking for a recipe that leaves out the (artificial) nutrient.

Maybe this is a more appropriate question: What is in the powdered yeast nutrient? (mine is called Fermax) Is there really any reason to want to leave it out?

Thanx for the help.

Dale
Dale,

Fermax is top grade nutrient, it has a cross section of food, nutrients and minerals for the yeast. it is tasteless when added at the recommended amounts and even exceeding those amounts, people who say they can taste it are full of it or have active imaginations.

the flavor mainly comes from the yeast, if there is a weird flavor you do not like change the yeast, not a catch all but a good chance.

not using nutrient will cause a stalled to terminal fermentation and can lead to off flavors. healthy yeast make a better tasting product and healthy yeast need vitamins and minerals just like you.

i personally like the wyeast yeast nutrient, pretty much the same thing as fermax.

are you aerating the must?
 

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I've tasted more off-flavors, IMO, from nutrient/energizer additions than from yeast. Yeast rarely cause off-flavors simply by being themselves. If you want to use noots "just because", try it at half-strength. I only use noots in high-gravity traditional meads (stressful musts) where I was too lazy to make a proper starter.
 

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Ben,

I have to disagree with you on the nutrient bit.
honey has almost no nutritional value for the yeast other then food, now imagine if you only ate fructose/sugar your entire life, you would be very unhealthy. yeast need nutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals to be healthy and not make off flavors or stall out.

montrocehette for example has a very high nitrogen demand, in a mead you need to use nutrients with this strain, feed it nitrogen. otherwise, speaking from experience, you can end up with the stinky egg mel, instead of your wonderful strawberry mel. when yeast are stressed they do weird things to the flavor and smell. they may not always be good. so i tried to save it by sticking copper wire in there to react with the sulfur compounds and change it into, (snap, snap) i forget right now, but it removes the oder. well it did not work right so i dumped it, only a gallon, but a lesson to use nutrients and feed the yeast was learned.

now i do agree with you on making a starter if yo use liquid yeast, but dry yeast is designed to rehydrated only, make a starter from dry yeast with make the yeast weaker, because the yeast are packed with amino-acids and other food stores to get it going from go.

maybe if you added the nutrient late you may taste? i stress may be able to taste it. yeast produce flavor, that is what they do, mostly in the budding stage. which is why making a proper sized starter is important.

you want to use nutrient at the beginning of the fermentation so the yeast metabolizes all of it, but mostly, yeast nutrient is processed yeast hulls. the DAP is good for feedings. but feedings should end before your 1/2 break

i never rule out that someone has better taste buds the me, but out of all of the competitions, never had a comment of "tasted yeast nutrient" in any of the mead, beer, cider or wine i have made.

i worked in the industry for a while on the production end and in the retail end. it is the retail end of home-brewing that taught me to never discount others experiences. they have a process that works for them to get the results they want. i can never argue with that, i just simple pass on the knowledge i have gained from working in the commercial production end, i can tell you the micros are generally using nutrient. they want consistency and keeping that yeast health keeps them from doing wonky things.

like i said i never call anyone methods wrong if they get the result they want. but i am always going to advocate for what i believe is the correct process. please don't take it the wrong way.

i will for full disclosure say that i mostly make high gravity meads.
 

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Ben,

I have to disagree with you on the nutrient bit.
honey has almost no nutritional value for the yeast other then food, now imagine if you only ate fructose/sugar your entire life, you would be very unhealthy. yeast need nutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals to be healthy and not make off flavors or stall out.
Indeed. However yeast do bring many nutrients along with them from their propogation which are often good for several generations of budding before they begin to deplete.

...because the yeast are packed with amino-acids and other food stores to get it going from go.
Since that IS the case (and I agree, see reply above), whence the blanket nutrient requirement? Also important to make a distinction between "starter" and simply rehydrating, I think we're talking here about a starter (the intent of which is to begin yeast metabolic processes, build nutritive reserves and increase cell count). In dry yeast this has already been done; they can ferment even a unadulterated sucrose solution to completeness because they're nutritionally prepared before being dried out and packaged.

you want to use nutrient at the beginning of the fermentation so the yeast metabolizes all of it, but mostly, yeast nutrient is processed yeast hulls. the DAP is good for feedings. but feedings should end before your 1/2 break
Nutrient and DAP (also called "energizer") are totally different products with different intended uses. Nutrient, as you say, is usually ultrasonically exploded yeast and is intended to provide a broad nutritional (as opposed to energetic) needs. Think multivitamin. DAP, Diammonium Phosphate, and related products such as urea and other energizers are solely to add nitrogen as an energy source. It will not support a nutrient-deficient must, and is usually reserved for trying to shake awake a stuck ferment. Simply having fruit in a must usually will meet nitrogen needs for stressful musts, but energizer can be helpful for very high-gravity traditionals.

i never rule out that someone has better taste buds the me, but out of all of the competitions, never had a comment of "tasted yeast nutrient" in any of the mead, beer, cider or wine i have made.
Me neither. It'll usually come out as a mild phenolic character, which can have many causes. So...

i worked in the industry for a while on the production end and in the retail end. it is the retail end of home-brewing that taught me to never discount others experiences. they have a process that works for them to get the results they want. i can never argue with that, i just simple pass on the knowledge i have gained from working in the commercial production end, i can tell you the micros are generally using nutrient. they want consistency and keeping that yeast health keeps them from doing wonky things.
I agree totally, and while I sometimes wax pedantic I hope everyone understands I'm trying to bring my experiences and information out for discussion and I am nowhere near the authoritative opinion. So I can't be sure that nutrient use or energizer use have been the proximate cause of off-flavors in meads. But, in my experience, I think my meads improved and became more consistent when I started reserving the chems for stressful meads such as ones with high gravities, low pH, etc.

As to the commercial end, IMO they have different goals than hobbyists. Like beekeepers, it's a matter of approach, cost-effectiveness and consistency. I can afford to examine all my colonies in late winter as often as weather allows, and to feed pollen and syrup in a very individualized graduated way. If you need to get 20,000 colonies ready for almonds, you pretty much feed ALL of them the same.

In a large brewery/meadery/cidery, they use a hemocytometer to gauge cell density of yeast packs for scaling yeast pitches. At home, no one does that but I'd offer for consideration that it's a consistency thing more than a quality thing. I ranched my own yeast for years (plating out strains on agar, louping up cells and propagating them through pitch after pitch to get a full starter). But I did it for fun, not because the mead tasted any better.

Lastly and as a data point, I do need to disclose that I do all my starters in a wort medium, since I have quarts and quarts of canned sterile wort in the pantry. All commercial yeast is propogated in wort (even cider, wine and mead strains) since it's so ideally suited to saccharomyces health. So it's possible that I derive some benefit from that practice in the form of yeast with strong nutritional foundation, and I have fewer nutritively stressed ferments because I'm a beer geek and enjoy canning :). I've never had a finished wine or mead with HS at detectable levels. Certainly during fermentation, but some strains just throw it once they switch from respiration to reproductive stage.

like i said i never call anyone methods wrong if they get the result they want. but i am always going to advocate for what i believe is the correct process. please don't take it the wrong way.
Thank goodness! I think there's a lot of room for mazers to use different techniques, and I don't really believe in right or wrong practices. Just accurate or inaccurate information. I've had customers who wouldn't touch anything besides their Ziplock-bag "pruno" (prison hootch with bread yeast and whatever sugars they could scrounge, such as prune juice). Some folks think using sulfites is just this side of joining the Taliban, and some folks think anyone not using sulfites is a Luddite dreamer who's straight-up sacrificing quality for misplaced New-Age idealism.

As in beekeeping, the benefit of these forums is to get everyone's information out there, have an open respectful discussion so we can let everyone make up their own mind, and compare practices. There is always more'n one way to skin a cat (or a prickly-pear for melomel). If only we could share a glass or two as easily :).
 
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