YAN levels in Honey

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RylanJacobs

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I plan on starting a batch of mead this week. I want to use this time to sharpen my fermentation/analysis skills for grape harvest later this fall.

Is it safe to assume a starting YAN of 0 and calculate nutrient additions accordingly? I know honey is low on nutrients, so I want to get the nutrient regimen correct.

Thanks!
 
Do you ever add acid? I see a lot of folks adding "acid blend" but I'm not sure if this is necessary.

I have only made mead once or twice, so I'm probably not what might be considered an expert on it, it isn't my favorite thing to drink. But, I know that all the normal yeasts we use to make wine like to do their best work between about 2.8 and 4.2 Ph, so I would want to be within that range to start, if using wine yeast.
 
Honey is acidic. Many mead recipes include calcium carbonate to raise the pH. So I suggest that you put together the must for your mead and check the pH before you add acid. You probably won't need it.

Accomplished mead maker Bray Denard generally includes K2CO3 in his recipes to raise pH: https://denardbrewing.com/blog/post/Perfect-BOMM/

For some reason, mead sometimes seems to become more acidic during fermentation. My most recent traditional mead dropped to pH 2.89 during fermentation. But sometimes this does not happen. I'm not sure why. But I always check pH before making adjustments.
 
Honey is acidic. Many mead recipes include calcium carbonate to raise the pH. So I suggest that you put together the must for your mead and check the pH before you add acid. You probably won't need it.

Accomplished mead maker Bray Denard generally includes K2CO3 in his recipes to raise pH: https://denardbrewing.com/blog/post/Perfect-BOMM/

For some reason, mead sometimes seems to become more acidic during fermentation. My most recent traditional mead dropped to pH 2.89 during fermentation. But sometimes this does not happen. I'm not sure why. But I always check pH before making adjustments.
In response to, "mead sometimes seems to become more acidic during fermentation", I have experienced the same thing in wine...sometimes more, sometime less, sometimes not at all. I ran across this article that may help explain what is happening. I have only made mead once, but make wine often. I count on acidity changing during the process and tweak before bottling only if necessary. Cheers. https://www.awri.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/s2244.pdf
 
Honey is acidic.
I found a reference stating that honey's pH varies from 3.4 to 6.1, with an average of 3.9. Search for "honey ph". The first 3 links (using DuckDuckGo) state the same range, which of course doesn't necessarily mean it's accurate. But lacking other evidence I'll accept it for now.

The pH is below 7, so honey is acidic when considering the full pH scale. I suspect whoever wrote that was looking at this generically, while we look at things from a winemaker's POV, where a pH of 3.9 is NOT acidic.

The next time I start a batch (which won't be soon, I have 25 liters I'll be bottling soon) I intend to check the pH after I dilute the honey but before adding anything else. I'm also going to check the pH of my current batch at bottling time, just for giggles.

This has me thinking that one reason I haven't cared for most straight meads I've tried is that they acid was too low from a winemaker's POV.

For some reason, mead sometimes seems to become more acidic during fermentation.
More acidic as in the TA is higher, or the pH is lower? I was reminded recently that pH is a measure of ionization, not acid level. It makes sense that pH can drop if other factors increase the ionization level but the TA doesn't change.

I'm back in Chem 101 ..... ;)
 
More acidic as in the TA is higher, or the pH is lower?
More acidic as in the pH is lower. The biggest change I saw was a drop to pH 2.89. My initial pH reading for that batch is suspect, but how did the pH get that low? I did not add any acid to that recipe. Maybe when honey ferments something increasing the ionization of the acid?? I did not measure TA, so it would be interesting to see whether that changed as well.

@BPL Thanks for sharing the link. Also, during fermentation, dissolved CO2 can lower the pH a little bit. That's why people generally recommend degassing before measuring pH. But the drop that I have seen is far greater than can be explained in that way.
 
Honey is acidic. Many mead recipes include calcium carbonate to raise the pH. So I suggest that you put together the must for your mead and check the pH before you add acid. You probably won't need it.

Accomplished mead maker Bray Denard generally includes K2CO3 in his recipes to raise pH: https://denardbrewing.com/blog/post/Perfect-BOMM/

For some reason, mead sometimes seems to become more acidic during fermentation. My most recent traditional mead dropped to pH 2.89 during fermentation. But sometimes this does not happen. I'm not sure why. But I always check pH before making adjustments.
How did you like the mead at pH 2.89? My batch currently is at 2.67 🥵
 
From what I've read that reading is impossibly low. I'd double check that.
I don't think that it is impossibly low. It seems that the honey does something during fermentation to lower the pH. I have experienced that on several occasions, but it does not always happen. I'm not sure why. I've had a few batches drop below 3.0 in primary fermentation.

See my comment from earlier in this:
Accomplished mead maker Bray Denard generally includes K2CO3 in his recipes to raise pH: https://denardbrewing.com/blog/post/Perfect-BOMM/
Some of the mead recipes by experienced mead makers add Potassium Bicarbonate to raise the pH, but others leave the pH alone. I wonder if they are aiming for a pH that is higher than I usually use for wine? In any case, I would not add acid blend or potassium bicarbonate without measuring the pH first.
 
I added a bit of Potassium Bicarbonate to raise the pH a bit.
From a food acceptability point of view; one can visit the grocery and find colas at pH 2 or the citrus mountain type at 2.5. 2.67 is not a bad number if you have more water than dry solids. ,,, How did it taste? , , , This was a fermented mead ?yes?

From a microbiology point of view; I would worry less about pH 2.6 than 3.6. The folks making sodas push the pH down for safety , , , I hope you didn’t add enough bicarbonate to push to 3.6. , , , , Some place this spring Winemaker81 wisely observed that one number by itself has no meaning. ?taste , , > needs a TA reading.

From a yeast point of view, the colony really doesn’t like under 2.8 so yes in a must I would add bicarbonate to push the pH up.
 
I don't think that it is impossibly low. It seems that the honey does something during fermentation to lower the pH. I have experienced that on several occasions, but it does not always happen. I'm not sure why. I've had a few batches drop below 3.0 in primary fermentation.
I need to check pH during ferment the next time I make a mead. I have one close to bottling, so I'll check that one before bottling.
 
From a food acceptability point of view; one can visit the grocery and find colas at pH 2 or the citrus mountain type at 2.5. 2.67 is not a bad number if you have more water than dry solids. ,,, How did it taste? , , , This was a fermented mead ?yes?

From a microbiology point of view; I would worry less about pH 2.6 than 3.6. The folks making sodas push the pH down for safety , , , I hope you didn’t add enough bicarbonate to push to 3.6. , , , , Some place this spring Winemaker81 wisely observed that one number by itself has no meaning. ?taste , , > needs a TA reading.

From a yeast point of view, the colony really doesn’t like under 2.8 so yes in a must I would add bicarbonate to push the pH up.
Unfortunately, it's mid-fermentation. I thought for sure I'd have the opposite problem of high pH, so I only have tartaric acid on-hand. The yeast (Renaissance Fresco) appear to have gone through the multiplication phase without issue. There's plenty of foam and lots of co2 bubbles. Today and tomorrow should be the beginning of the next phase where SG starts dropping. I'll be curious to see if that happens. Based on some light reading, it may not.
 
@RylanJacobs If it is fermenting okay I would not try to change the pH at this point. If fermentation has started, it will probably continue without raising the pH.

Once fermentation is finished, there are two factors to consider:
* Taste: If it is too tart, you could consider raising the pH a little bit and/or backsweetening to bring it into balance.
* Preservation: It is better if the pH is below 3.4 so that it will keep and age well.
 
Here's an update from today. Fermentation appears well underway. I double-checked pH with some test strips, and they confirm a pH around 2.6-2.8.

I’ll take @Raptor99 advice and leave it be. Bubbling is plentiful and SG has dropped 0.1 in the last 24 hours.

I’ll probably backsweeten or blend into another batch if the acidity is too much.
 

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