When I was rendering wax from the fall harvest I had lots of caramelized honey. I wanted something to do with all the honey that I would normally throw out. After some searching I found that there is a actually a technique of using caramelized honey in mead. I was going to make a Bochet!Jump to Recipe
Where to start?
You can caramelize your own honey by boiling it for extended amounts of time on the stove. You can boil it till its has a slight caramel aroma or almost till the bubbles are black. The taste will mellow as it ferments. The more you boil the less it will taste like honey. Boiling will add more marshmallow and toasted notes from the finished product. When boiling, don’t burn the honey because there will be no usable sugars left to ferment. This means watching the honey boil the whole time.
If you are into experimenting you should take note of how dark you caramelized so that you can reference for later. I have seen people put a drop of their original honey on a white plate and then take drops periodically from the boiling honey to compare. Take a picture of the final product on the plate for future reference.
Word of Caution
Making a Bochet is not a beginner type of mead. There are lots of things to go wrong when you caramelize the honey. The yeast can have difficulties fermenting which can stall the brewing or produce off flavours and smells. The honey can burn and have nothing left to ferment. If you want just a basic recipe check out my basic Mead Recipe or Mead basics that will get you started with the proper ingredients and strategies.
The recipe below suggests using a TOSNA calculator for nutrient and energizer additions to the mead. You can find the link here
Bochet Mead Recipe
- 3 gallon pot
- Long stir stick
- food grade 6-7 gallon pail
Preparation and Primary fermentation
- 12 lbs caramelized honey
- 3 lbs unpasteurized raw honey (for extra fermentable sugar)
- 4 tsp yeast nutrient (staggered in equal portions for 4 days)
- 6.25 grams GoFerm yeast hydration nutrients (app. 1.5 tsp)
- 1 packet Lalvin D47 yeast or any yeast suitable for brewing mead. I just prefer D47 for the temperature of my basement.
- Enough dechlorinated water to fill 5.5 gallons when everything is mixed together Leave your chlorinated water sitting out over night. If your water source contains chloride you must use campden to remove the chloride.
- 1 campden tablet this is only necessary if you have chloride in your water
- 2 tbsp Vanilla this will be added during secondary fermentation
- If using chlorinated water (chlorine) you can leave the water out over night and the chlorine will evaporate. If you water source uses chloride which is much more stable you must use campden tablets to clear out the chloride.
- Carmelizing honey takes time. Put 12 lbs of honey in a large cooking pot and very slowly bring the honey up to a very slow bubbling boil. You should be stirring the entire time.
- Once you have achieved a very slow boil you should continue to stir regularly so the honey does not burn. Keep exposed skin and eyes away from the pot. Boiling honey burns!
- As the honey is boiling it will change colour. You can take small samples periodically to test the colour and sample the flavour. Once the honey is at the desired carmelization you can take it off the heat.
Combining the ingredients
- Re hydrate your yeast following the manufactures specifications. Add 6.25g of GoFerm to your yeast. This will take about 30 minutes to get the yeast good and bubbly
- Mix the room temperature caramelized honey, unpasteurized raw honey and water to make about 5.5 gallons of must. You will need more than 5 gallons because you will loose some every time you test your gravity or rack the mead.
- Take a gravity reading with your hydrometer and write it down. This recipe should have an original gravity (O.G.) of 1.100. but its up to you if you want it higher or lower. Higher gravity will produce a sweeter mead and lower will obviously be dryer. This recipe will make a semi-sweet – dry mead.
- When you have completely dissolved all the honey you can pitch your yeast into the must
- give the whole thing a very good stir and cover and set aside for 12 hours. Remember if you are using D-47 yeast that it should be kept within 15-20°C (59-68°F)
- After 12 hours you can start to add your staggered yeast nutrient (and energizers if you wish) at 1 tsp. per day. If your yeast nutrient does not contain Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) then you could start adding before the 12 hour time lapse. Experts recommend using a TOSNA formula, which stands for Tailored Organic Staggered Nutrient Additions. You can find a good calculator here https://www.meadmaderight.com/tosna.html
- For the days that you are adding your nutrient you should be vigorous stirring your mead to incorporate as much oxygen as possible. It is up to you to how often to stir and for how long. Some sources recommend stirring until the 1/3 sugar break. For this recipe that would be when you measure 1.066 (or 1/3 fermented) on the hydrometer.
- When your hydrometer reading haven't changed for two weeks and you see no more signs of fermentation you are ready to rack to the secondary carboy with airlock.
- After racking you can add the 2 tbsp. of Vanilla and place an airlock on your carboy
- Let the mead sit in the secondary for 6 months to a year to clear and balance all the flavors. You can sample small amounts to check for maturity or taste.
- Bottle and enjoy!
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Your primary fermentation could take a real long time because of the caramelized honey being much more difficult to ferment than regular honey. My bochet took three months in primary
This first brew is complete (1 year since initial pitch). I would say that there was some successes and some improvements needed. I have decided to bottle condition half the brew to see what it tastes like carbonated. I used an online carbonation calculator where you can choose your own level of carbonation. What I have found is that the still version is greatly improved when put through a simple wine aerator just before consumption. I also think this brew might need a little longer in the bottle to age a bit longer. While tasty, there is still a little bite that might soften with time.