Bochet: A Mead Using Caramelized Honey
Units for 1 gallon:
3 pounds of Honey (I used Mesquite but any honey will do for this)
Yeast : Red Star Cotes Des Blancs
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Simple Bochet Process
To begin, sanitize all your equipment. I used a metal pot with a cover, metal spoon. It is Important not to use anything that will melt as during this process you’ll be heating your honey to around the soft crack stage in candy making (between 270-290 degrees (I didn’t use a thermometer, but this is what I’ve been told by some candy making enthusiasts.)
Please Note: When you begin to boil your honey, it will foam up to over 4x it’s original volume, plan your pot accordingly. I used our largest spaghetti pot for around 2.5 lbs of honey.
Add your honey to the pot and turn on your heat to medium high. After a short while, depending on your stove (gas is faster than electric), you will notice a ring of bubbles forming on the edges of the pot and moving towards the center. This is your sign that it is about to come to a boil. Once it does it will foam up very quickly. Stirring can help reduce the foam and keep the honey cooking evenly. Every five or ten minutes pull your stirring spoon out with some honey and notice the color changing. You can continue to cook it until you reach your desired darkness. I cooked mine until it was just before black. It was a deep dark brown when I took it off the heat.
The next step can be a little dangerous. This is where the lid for the pot will come in handy. You want to cool your honey down quickly as it will continue to cook without the heat source beyond you’re desired amount. Begin adding water to the honey to cool it down. In some cases, depending on the temperature difference between the water and the honey, it will create eruptions of molten honey which will burn you very badly. As you pour a little water in, put the lid on and repeat as many times as you need until you can add water freely without any reactions. Add a good amount of water and stir. Depending on how long you cooked your honey, you may notice some hard chunks of caramel around your pot. You can return your must to low heat and it should dissolve back in. That’s good sugar and flavor and you’re going to want to incorporate it back in.
After all that is said and done, cool your must to your desired pitching temp and pitch your yeast. Follow your preference for nutrient additions. I only used a half dose for this one about 1/3 through fermentation.
You may read that cooking your honey is a bad thing for meads, as it destroys and delicate flavors and characteristics of the honey. This IS true for other meads, but does not apply to bochets, despite what anyone might tell you. Where cooking honey elsewhere is done typically for pasteurization (which you will find is not particularly necessary as honey is too harsh of an environment for nasties to grow). Caramelizing the honey is done on purpose to change the characteristics of your final product. You will find a traditional compared to a bochet with the same ingredients will greatly differ in the end.
A note on clean up:
A big misconception with these it seems, is that your pot used to cook the honey will be pretty much ruined or a big pain to clean up. This I found to be false. Cleanup was easier than cleaning something food that burned to a skillet. If any molten honey caramel forms glassy candy on your stove, a metal spoon should chip it off no problem!Share this content
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