BVC - Boiling honey and pasteurization.

Mills, Scott Scott.Mills at
Wed Feb 9 13:53:21 PST 2000

On the topic of to boil or not to boil.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Collectively Unconscious [mailto:swarm at]
> I've heard this before, tried it both ways. Some comments:
> The scum removed certainly could influence taste. Particularly in less
> clean raw honey.

As I said before I never boil by honey and I firmly believe that it hurts
the honey flavor and more particularly the aroma.  There are clearly two
camps to this.  I think that the boilers are just following traditional
wisdom that really isn't based on any hard facts that it is beneficial or
even necessary.

I have two AHA National gold medals.  One for a Traditional Mead, the other
for a Braggot.  In neither one was the honey boiled.  The same methods have
won a number of other awards at national mead competitions like the Ambrosia
Adventure and Mazer Cup (ok lots of second places here).  I can point you to
a number of other nationally known mead makers that never boil their honey.
If you also hang out in the hist-brewing list you probably already have
encountered Al Korzonas another national gold medal winner and anti-boil

> Raw honey can hold nasties. You are not pasturizing as 
> described above.

Certainly this is pasteurizing.  You do not have to boil to pasteurize.  In
fact Pasteur himself didn't necessarily recommend boiling.  It only takes
about a minute at 150F to pasteurize.  In fact the National Food Safety
Database guides for home canning recommends 180F for 30 minutes which is way
overboard but they are looking more for sterilization than pasteurization.
The same database considers that there is no
bacterial risks from red meats at 160F (even pork) and no bacterial risk
from poultry at 180F.  

When I remove my pot from the heat and stir in my honey my temperature is
usually around 170F after I get the honey all stirred in and dissolved.  For
all practical purposes 170F is near instant pasteurization.  

Large commercial brewers use two basic methods the pasteurization.  Tunnel
pasteurization where the cans pass through a tunnel and are sprayed with hot
water to raise their temp to 140F and they then hold that temp for 10
minutes.  Flash pasteurization where the beer passes through two heat
exchangers.  The first heat exchanger heats the beer to 160F and holds it
for 20 seconds and the second rapidly cools the beer.



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