Making a Must from Honey

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The Mead Making Process
1. Preparing Mead Ingredients
2. Cleaning and Sanitation
3. Making a Must from Honey
4. Racking and Aerating Mead
5. Yeast Pitching and Nutrition
6. Mead Fermentation
7. Balancing and Flavoring Mead
8. Conditioning and Aging Mead
9. Mead Bottling and Carbonation
10. Serving Mead

Making the must may be one of simplest steps in the mead making process, but it is also one of the most controversial among mead makers.

Making the must for the beginning mead maker

How to properly prepare the must is a somewhat controversial issue, as is discussed more fully below. However, for the beginner, there are three options, each of which is discussed in more detail below:

No-boil must making
Often recommended for beginners because of its extreme simplicity, this involves simply mixing the honey with the water at room temperature, often directly in the fermenter. Some mead makers consider this method to carry an unacceptable risk of infection; others feel that it is the only method that preserves all of the honey's flavor. Many mead makers create all of their meads without boiling. Simply warm the honey in a pot of warm but not hot water for a few minutes before beginning to help it flow, and if necessary rinse the excess honey out of the jar with more warm water.
Many mead makers pasteurize their must by gently heating it to a temperature above 185 degrees F (85 degrees C) but below boiling and holding it there for 15 to 20 minutes. This will kill the majority of potentially infecting organisms in the yeast while avoiding the more significant loss of honey character that comes with boiling. It also allows you to skim some impurities off of the honey, which is especially important with raw or home-produced honey. However, it also requires extra equipment, such as a pot to boil the must in and some way to rapidly cool it.
Most mead makers advise against boiling your must, as they claim it will drive off much of the honey's delicate flavor. However, for the historically accurate, most honeys were traditionally boiled, sometimes for hours on end. Boiling is also the best way to remove bee remains and other impurities from home-produced honey. This method also has the same equipment drawbacks as pasteurization.

Which way you choose is up to you. Many people make great meads with all three methods.

Making must for the advanced mead maker

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What do I do next?

Once the must has been mixed and, if necessary, cooled, the next step in the Mead Making Process is Racking and Aerating Mead.