I touched upon an interesting tip on Episode 3 of the MMR Podcast where I briefly explained a method I used in the past in caramelizing honey for future use.
Years ago, I was planning out my recipe the day before a local AHA Big Brew Day, where home brewers from around the area all get together, lug all of their brewing equipment to one place, and all brew together! It's a pretty awesome experience to say the least. Being able to walk around from one brewing station to another in a huge parking lot or sometimes in someone's own backyard or large driveway, immersing yourself with all of the unique brews that are happening all at the same time.
This day in particular, my homebrew club planned a shared wort brew where we mashed a 120 gallons of wort to split amongst everyone at the event, leaving it up to all of the brewers to take it from there and put their own unique twists on it. Later we would all share our concoctions from the same wort. Pretty awesome experience.
What I planned on doing with my share of the wort was to make a brown ale braggot with caramelized honey. Knowing that it would be tough to properly time out exactly how long I would have for a nice slow caramelization of my honey on the spot the day of, and knowing that I would rather save my honey addition more towards the tail end of the boil, I thought, why not caramelize the honey the day before? So, that's what I did.
The night before, I took my time, safely and slowly caramelizing my honey in the comfort of my own home with some Hendrix in the background, getting the perfect level of caramelization that I was shooting for to use in the recipe I was looking to put together. Whilst stirring up molten lava basically, I realized that I probably didn't think this through enough. Once that honey cools down, it's going to harden up quite a bit and just cement itself to the bottom of my boil kettle, and if that's the case, I won't have the option of adding the honey in towards the end of a one-hour boil as I was planning on... So I came up with a solution.
"Hey Self. Remember that big set of silicone baking molds that you bought as an impulse purchase while watching QVC late at night a couple years back, that you never use except for the loaf pan once a year when you make banana bread"?
"I do!", he said to self.
That's when I decided, let's let this honey cool down just a bit so it at least becomes a little safer to handle, and pour it into these silicone baking molds to completely cool and solidify over night. I did, and it worked like a charm.
The next morning, I pulled away the sides of the silicone mold and they came right off what now has become caramelized honey bricks and discs. I wrapped them in some plastic wrap, threw them in a bucket with the hops and other tools I was planning on using that brew day, and off I went.
I also took an extra precaution and brought with me some extra mesh bags to suspend the solidified honey in the boil kettle just incase they didn't dissolve away fast enough and end up sitting at the bottom of a direct-fired boil kettle at risk of burning. It worked out great, and the brown ale braggot with caramelized honey was a huge success.
Now, dissolving those honey bricks in a boil kettle for a beer or something similar is one thing, but how can we adapt that for use in more of your standard mead making practice? You would need to dissolve the honey again of course, which could easily be done by dropping it into a small pot filled with some of the water you will be using anyway and warming it up enough to get it all dissolved.
Is this all necessary? No, not at all. However, if you ever felt the need to let's say caramelize a bunch of honey all at once to have at available any time you felt like making a bochet on a whim, it would be great to know that all of the hard and time consuming work has already been taken care of.
Who's ready to start stocking up caramelized honey bricks in the pantry?
In making a banana mead similar to our Curious George recipe at Melovino, bananas are added to the mead in secondary (after fermentation).
Using a small spectrum of very ripe bananas will provide a lot more smooth and more well rounded banana component to your mead. Have some over ripened mostly covered in dark spots to some that are just starting to show dark spots on the peel. This can be accomplished by purchasing bananas at different stages in the ripening process, or freezing bananas purchased at the same time at different stages.
Once you have your bananas where you want them, peel them all up, place them into a mesh bag and throw them into your finished mead. Give the mead a taste every day or two until you feel that your mead has your preferred amount of banana character, and then pull the bananas out.
As long as your base mead was well made, the bananas will do the rest!
Since 2015, MeadMadeRight™ has been the home of TOSNA and other fundamental mead making information that we shared with the world. Since then, many mead makers, both home and commercial, have adopted this knowledge with great success in making tremendously better mead.
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