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Is there a way to get the scum out of the must when making mead without boiling? I used to vigorously boil the must and it would produce a lot of scum which was easily removed. I've since read that boiling too hot will damage the flavour. I tried making a mead where the must was kept much cooler (about 60 degrees C) and much less scum was produced. There was also an unpleasant off-flavour which I think might have been caused by scum which didn't boil out.

Is there a way to get the scum out of the must that doesn't involve boiling?

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Why do you think you need to boil the scum out to begin with? Wouldn't those solids and proteins drop out given time anyway? –  Graham Oct 8 '12 at 12:50
    
@Graham: I'm more concerned about clarity than flavour. One source I read (wish I could find the link now) said the "scum" also may contain traces of wax and that the yeast can produce bad off-flavours if they consume the wax. I'm using honey from the farmer's market so I imagine that it's likely to contain more wax than commercial honey that's probably been filtered much more cleanly. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 8 '12 at 17:05

3 Answers 3

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I don't believe that the scum will affect the flavor of the mead. I never boil my musts because boiling removes the precious aromatics from the honey. I bring water to a boil, turn off the heat, stir in the honey, then allow it to cool to about 80F, and then drain the kettle into the carboy. Any scum gets left behind in the kettle.

Boiling will give you brighter (less hazy) mead, but judges give you more points for aroma than they take away for a little haze. At least that's what the judges said on my scoresheets when my mead won the 1997 AHA National Gold Medal for Traditional Mead and Braggot.

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Man, don't boil your honey, what are you doing?

You cook all the good enzymes and nutrients right out of it and a lot of the flavor too. Basically wasting all that nice farmers market honey, you might as well go get the cheap corn syrup honey from superstore if you're boiling your honey.

Honey is naturally antiseptic. Simply steep your honey into the must after boiling and remove from heat, then cool immediately.

The stronger the better also, anything over 9–10% and you have no worries.

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I would suggest that you drop heating the honey above 40 degrees Celsius. After you have dissolved the honey completely in water I suggest you rack it into another container. But instead of racking it straight into the container, I would pour it into a cotton towel or similar (cook it first) to filter the scum out. The lower the temperature of the must is, the more of the wax gets caught in the towel.

I have only made mead myself from store bought honey that contained no scum, but I have only warmed the honey to about 30 degrees to dissolve it faster. The finished mead has a very nice honey aroma.

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Interesting idea! Would a cotton towel leave fibres in the must as it filters through? I have jam bags (used for filtering jam) but I think they are not nearly fine enough to filter out the scum. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 8 '12 at 17:06
    
I'd say, use the finest cloth you got. Cotton diapers are said to be very good, too. A towel on the other hand has a big surface area, so it should soak up the wax quite well. –  Flyhard Oct 8 '12 at 18:57
    
I searched the web a bit and found this page: beesource.com/forums/… It sounds like paint strainers are a top choice, and possibly nylon pantyhose. I'm not sure of paint strainer is more or less fine than a jam filtering bag (which I have, but didn't use becuse I didn't think they were fine enough to filter out the scum). They all say the honey needs to be warmer and that the "junk" (including wax) will be at the top. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 9 '12 at 21:05
    
I've used a paint strainer for BIAB brewing and they're much more porous than a dishtowel. If you use a "flour sack"-type towel, they're practically lint-free. I'm guessing a paint strainer would trap 90% of the scum, but not all. –  TMN Oct 16 '12 at 15:00

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