Mead Lover's Digest #0305 Sat 14 May 1994


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Coordinator



crystalization/enzymes ("Daniel F McConnell")
Re: vintage honey (Dick Dunn)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #304,… (
Honey/Mead refs ("Daniel F McConnell")


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Subject: crystalization/enzymes
From: "Daniel F McConnell" <>
Date: 13 May 1994 10:26:37 -0400

Subject:  crystalization/enzymes
From: (Dick Dunn)

>I think the opinions he cites about crystallized honey are
>overreactions. Perhaps in response to Robb Harris's original question
>about 17-year-old(!) honey, they may be appropriate, although Robb did say
>that the old honey still tastes fine, which is a pretty good judgment.

Yes, I agree that these are perhaps overeactions concerning mead
production, but most of the references that I have deal with honey (not
mead). I was extrapolating, assuming that off-flavors in honey would lead
to off-flavors in mead. Also keep in mind this honey was 17 YEARS old,
not your normal crystalized, 2-year-old honey: raw materials that I would
use and encourage others to use with NO hesitation. I apologize if I raised
anyone's stress level.

>from one of Dan's references:
>> Perhaps the most hazardous of all storage problems is granulation
>> or crystallization… Crystallization is particularly
>> hazardous to unpasteurized honey because the concentration of solids
>> around the crystal creates a higher moisture content (above the
>> critical 18 – 19% level) in the residual uncrystallized honey. This in
>> turn promotes fermentation…

>It allows for the possibility of fermentation. But it takes a pretty
>strong yeast to be able to do much fermentation, at that strength of sugar,
>with the wrong pH and lack of nutrients. If fermentation does start, it's
>likely to proceed *very* slowly.

Again, I was refering to Honey as a food, not as a basic ingredient for
mead. Keep in mind that honey, collected by the least processed methods
has been found to contain up to 10E5 wild yeast cells/gram.

I think a greater issue than crystallization is enzyme action, which can
change the sugar balance during storage. About which Jay writes…….

>This leads me to address 2 issues. Conversion of sucrose, a fermentable sugar
>to dextrose and/or levulose (which I don't know about) which are unferemntable
>(or mostly so). This in and of itself is not necessarily bad. It certainly
>would change the character of the final product, likely causing it to have
>residual sweetness and less alcohol content. Taken to extreme such a change
>might be problematic, but without an understanding of what kind of timeframe
>this occurs over it is not particularly useful. The figure of up to 9%
>conversion to more complex sugars is not that extreme. Such aconversion might
>be beneficial to acheiving a sweeter balance in the mead.

Actually, levulose=d-fructose and dextrose=d-glucose (exactly the same
sugars, different names) both of which are highly fermentable. Thus, this
would lead to DRYER mead. All of this enzyme data is information which I
have just discovered and I don't quite know what to make of it yet. The
issue of conversion to more complex sugars is very interesting, and a
topic that I am currently looking into.

Back to Dick…….

>What to do? I'd say don't worry much about it. Don't use honey that's
>obviously spoiled in any way, and taste before using it, but crystalliza-
>tion by itself is not a bad sign. In particular, we usually find that the
>honey we seek for mead-making tends to crystallize easily, simply because
>it hasn't been treated to reduce its tendency to crystallize.

I couldn't agree more.


Subject: Re: vintage honey
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: 13 May 94 11:17:12 MDT (Fri)

Jay Hersh <> wrote along the same lines as I did in response to
the concerns about crystallized honey. One minor point:

> This leads me to address 2 issues. Conversion of sucrose, a fermentable sugar
> to dextrose and/or levulose (which I don't know about) which are unferemntable
> (or mostly so)…

I swapped email with Jay; he was thinking of dextrin, not dextrose, when he
wrote that. Dextrose (corn sugar) of course is readily fermentable. The
more common name for levulose is fructose; it's also readily fermentable.
Both are monosaccharides.

Dick Dunn -or- raven!rcd Boulder, Colorado USA

…Yeah, yeah, "patience"…how long will *THAT* take?!?


Date: Fri, 13 May 94 20:08:28 -0400

I want to carbonate a very high alcohol mead. I plan on adding water to get
the fermentation to start again. How much should I add for a five gallon
batch? I plan to use champagne bottles.

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #304,...
Date: Sat, 14 May 94 02:02:39 EDT

Subject: Honey & Nutrients
From: (Sean C. Cox)
Date: Tue, 10 May 94 16:05:30 EDT

> I'm planning to start my first mead batch this week (some needed
>equipment is on order), and I have a question… If I use >unprocessed
honey no heating or filtering) do I need to add yeast >nutrient? (My goal is
fermentation in non-geologic time.)

Really it depends upon your honey ( thats why mead is so interesting a
brew…. honey quality changes year to year and cross correlated to locality.

I have brewed mead for 17 years, WITHOUT nutrients. My record is 13 days

for 13.2 % Alcohol ( ~ 24deg Brix). Quality and freshness is what counts,
whether is has been filtered, or heated.
On other matters….

The age of honey is directly proportional to HMF content. HMF,

hydroxymethylfurfural or furfuraldehyde is a product of slightly heating
sugar in an acidic solution…. since honey is very much acidic ( normal pH
ranges from 3.2 to 4. HMF is a unfermentable product.

Enzyme activity is greatly affected by age. Glucose Oxidase is very

sensitive to light and heat, and can change by 300% over a month. Saccharase
acitvity can change by a factor of 900% over a period of 3months. The
inhibine value, partially controlled by glucose oxidase ( and its product
hydrogen peroxide ) is rather dramatic in change. Inhibine measurements
account for honeys natural preservative, and bacteriostatic effects ( A 4%
solution of fresh, unprocessed honey will kill penicillin on contact.)

Alcohol conversion to acetic acid can occur through other process than

bacterial fermentation by Acetobacter, Gluconobacter or similar agents.
Particularly directly oxidation yielding peroxide, with in turn creates
acetylaldehyde and acetic acid.

Gluconic Acid is the aldonic acid of glucose, caused by the aldehyde group

of glucose being converted to carboxyl. This is known to occur by glucose
oxidase. Gluconic acid is said to be a test of mold contamination in wine.
However, honey, is lethal to most molds and other microbes…. notably A.
fumigatus, Penicillium, S. aureus, E. Coli, C. Albicans….


Subject: Honey/Mead refs
From: "Daniel F McConnell" <>
Date: 13 May 1994 10:31:12 -0400

When Ken and I began to write the transcript for our Mead Analysis talk,
we chose to research the primary sources. We spoke to the current leading
authorities on honey and mead, all of whom refered us to Dr Jonathan
White. He is retired, but very much alive, active and interested in our
project. He provided wealth of information, reprints and sources. Here
is a partial list of Honey and mead references: The Tech. Bulletin and Eva
Crane's book are the best resources. They are packed with data on honey
and honey wine.


White, J.W.Jr.,et al., Composition of American Honeys, USDA

Technical Bulletin #1261, 1962.

White, J.W.Jr., Honey, Adv Food Res., 24:287-374, 1978.
Humann, M., Honey Industry Facts. National Honey Board,

Longmont, CO. 1991.

Marshall, T., Williams, K.M., Electrophoresis of honey:

characterization of trace proteins from a complex biological matrix by
silver staining, Anal Biochem., 167(2):301-3, 1987.

Bergner, K.G., Diemair, S., Proteins in honey. I. Separation and

concentration of proteins in honey, Z Lebensm Unters Forsch,
157(1):1-6, 1975.

Bergner, K.G., Diemair, S., Proteins in honey. II. Gel-

chromatography, enzymatic acitivity and origin of honey-protein, Z
Lebensm Unters Forsch, 157(1):1-6, 1975.

Stadelmeier, M., Bergner, K.G., Proteins of bee honey. VI. Isoelectric

focusing of amylase in various kinds of honey. Z Lebensm Unters
Forsch, 182(1):25-8, 1986.

Crane, E., Honey: A comprehensive Survey, Heinemann, London,


Who's Who In American Beekeepimng, Gleanimgs In Bee Culture, 3-

7, 1992.

Kime, R., McLellan, M.R.&Lee, C.Y., Ultra-filtration of Honey for

Mead production, Agricult. Research, 15:517, 1991.


End of Mead Lover's Digest #305