Fermenting honey?

lesli8(8TX)July 15, 2005

I have a little thing going with a cousin who has bees (lots of hives). My husband works for the school's maintance department and the cafeteria ladies save all their gallon and half gallon jars for us. We trade them to the cousin for honey. The last honey(3 quarts) we got was sugared, no biggy, I put them in a pan of hot water on the stove on low heat and melted it. I noticed that the honey has a very alcoholic taste to it, or perhaps yeasty. It is very dark. I am not likeing it too much. Is there any way to make it not taste so strong? If I cook it a little hotter and a little longer will it kill the yeast? Will it still have the flavor?

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Swank(z5 Pa.)

My guess is you took the honey from the comb/hive too soon. The water content was too high resulting in a souring or fermenting condition. I suggest you just dump it. It may contain undesirable bacteria. I had a bucket of this from a bee removal job and ended up feeding it to the neighbor's pigs. They liked it. Let the bees cap over their handy-work and that tells you it is okay and ready to eat. Good luck next time.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 10:41PM
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lesli8(8TX)

It was given to me, actually, by an experienced bee keeper. It had sugared and I think that it was stored in a plastic container for a while, probably not sealed and was exposed to air.I am not a bee keeper. I have heated it with a thermometer to about 178'and kept it there for a while and it seems to be much better. My husband liked it with the alcoholic kick, and he doesn't even like honey. I was a little worried since my 10 YO son is our biggest honey eater.

It is much better now. Doesn't even smell yeasty anymore. I will use it more for cooking and such. I can't waste 3 quarts of honey. Just hope the next honey is better.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 12:45PM
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txbeeguy(z8 TX)

If the moisture content of honey gets too high (exceeding 17-18%) it will ferment from natural yeast (as opposed to "cultured" yeast strains) floating in the air (this is called honey wine or mead). The wild yeast may or may not produce a good tasting alcoholic drink (probably about a 50% chance of you getting a good flavored mead out of it) - but in any case, it's not likely to be dangerous to consume (other than the alcohol consideration for your young son). Boiling may or may not kill the yeast - usually, yeast are killed by the increasing alcohol level as the fermentation process progresses. Open containers of honey will absorb moisture from the air.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 9:29PM
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Aegis(z9 CA)

Even if it can ferment a little, chances are the alcohol content will be quite low...and given that you tend not to down a quart of honey at a sitting, your intake of alcohol will be minimal. I agree with your hubby...a little alcoholic head on the honey is tasty (odd, as my only batch to ever ferment on its own was also very dark). If in doubt, look up some mead recipes and do it right! I've got several batches going myself...interesting, but the jury is still out on how much more I'll do.

Related to this....I've wondered what happens to the supernatant as solids crystallize out. I've read that the solid is dextrose (no idea if this is correct), but whatver it is, as it leaves the liquid honey, the water that remains in the liquid will have a higher effective concentration, thus potentially allowing fermentation....has anyone noticed this? (fermentation following crystallization?)

-dr

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 1:11AM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

One thing that needs to be clarified. Honey that crystalizes (and all honey does), leaves behind liquid that is far greater than 18% water, and the liquid, after this separation can ferment.

As the lady found out, she can warm the honey and drive off both the excess moisture AND the alcohol. I think she did it too hot though. Even holding the honey at 100° in a low humidity climate would both reliquify it, and create evaporation.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 3:42AM
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