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safe to use honey that's started fermenting?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I'm cooking steaks for tonight. I got the idea to cook them with honey, 'cause I really liked a friend's roast that was cooked that way. So I opened our honey, and it had a very strong fermented smell like beer.

I got to thinking that that could be even better for cooking meat, 'cause I've heard of people cooking meats in beer before. So I've punctured the meat with a fork, poured the honey on, added other seasonings, and started cooking it, covered with foil, on low heat in the oven. My plans are to cook it on about 200 all day, then raise the heat to 350 later this afternoon for a while to make sure it gets hot enough to kill bacteria.

But now I'm wondering --

a)Is the honey safe, since it's started fermenting in a plastic container? I've always seen alcoholic beverages in glass or aluminum, not plastic -- but while browsing some sites I see that some say it's fine to ferment foods in food-grade plastic containers.

b)Is the honey safe, since I haven't followed any technical fermentation process, it just sat there for a long time and started to ferment? It's raw unfiltered honey. I'm hoping that cooking should kill any potentially harmful stuff.

If I hear any concerns pretty soon, I think I've got time to rinse off the meat and start over. But I've gotta admit, I'm kind of intrigued to be trying out this experiment, as long as I'm not endangering my family in the process.
post #2 of 42
Fermented honey and beer are not the same thing.

I am not a cooking or honey expert other than I love to eat it.
However, if it has fermented I would stay away until I talked to someone that harvests/makes honey and can tell me if it is ok or not. I don't know but just personally I would not use it until I knew for sure what the fermentation process would do to the honey and its reaction to other foods.

Just my 2 cents
post #3 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks! Anyone else?
post #4 of 42
Thread Starter 
Wow! I just read on WikiAnswers that honey doesn't ferment -- it crystallizes, and can still be used in crystallized form, though some people don't think it tastes as good. I'm still hoping that maybe the heat would kill any harmful stuff -- but I probably better not let it go too long before changing what I'm doing if I want to actually be able to use the meat.

I'll be glad for any other advice!
post #5 of 42
Honey does ferment--it turns into mead.

I wouldn't use it if it smelled bad.
post #6 of 42
nak

not sure if this will help, but i believe that if it has fermented, it's because something else has gotten into the honey. pure honey keeps indefinitely, but even adding water to honey will eventually cause the honey to "go bad" (water and honey is how you get mead). if you knew that the contaminate was just water, you'd probably be OK, but i don't know how you'd figure that out. sorry i don't have an answer for you .
post #7 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexisT View Post
Honey does ferment--it turns into mead.

I wouldn't use it if it smelled bad.
It smells like beer, and beer smells bad to me -- but for some reason it sounds good for cooking purposes. I guess I'm in a weird mood today.

Wouldn't mead smell kind of like beer -- which might smell "bad" to those of us who don't drink beer, but "good" to those who do? Too bad dh's at work today, and can't smell it for me yet, 'cause he'd be the best judge of whether it smelled like "the good stuff."
post #8 of 42
This got me curious so googling happened

Here is a link: http://www.draperbee.com/index.htm
Click onto the "honey info" page in the left menu column, and see point #2.

Would it be weird to give them a call? The apiaries number is on their site.

Let us know how it turns out
post #9 of 42
I've made a few batches of mead over the years, so I have a great love for fermented honey. However, I've always done it with packaged yeast. I don't know what to look for as to what would be a "good" wild yeast or bad. I don't think mead smells much like beer. It should smell closer to white wine. Of course, that largely depends on what kind of yeast you might have caught. If there was beer in the house, you could have beer yeast in the air and that'd be what you'd have.

I would call Drapers. They're nice folks. We were out there a few years ago.
post #10 of 42
I make mead maybe I can help. Some people make wild mead just leaving watered down honey open to pick up any yeasts in the air and letting it ferment. That *can* end up with very off tastes but sometimes it's great.

Typically mead isn't much like beer at least not what I've made, it's more like wine. Beer has grains and is bitter often.

Normally honey can't ferment because the water is under 20% but if it crystallizes you get pockets or higher water content and it can grow stuff.

Bringing it to 150F for like 25 minutes should kill anything in there and keep that new flavor somewhat. If you don't know what landed in there you have a bit of a crapshoot eating/drinking it without the heating first but many people do it anyway and once again, sometimes it's great.
post #11 of 42
Pure honey acts as a preservative and inhibits microscopic life. But if the honey is diluted with water it becomes a stimulating medium for airborne yeast to land in, feast upon, and reproduce. In a short time you will have mead. If you know it was just water I don't see a problem with using the honey. Mead is one of the oldest ferments, as old as 12,000 years.

Do you remember the last you used the honey? Was the spoon wet?

If you KNOW it was just water and the unintentional mead smells fine I say use it. If it smells and tastes bad pitch it in the compost.
post #12 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boadhagh View Post
nak

not sure if this will help, but i believe that if it has fermented, it's because something else has gotten into the honey. pure honey keeps indefinitely, but even adding water to honey will eventually cause the honey to "go bad" (water and honey is how you get mead). if you knew that the contaminate was just water, you'd probably be OK, but i don't know how you'd figure that out. sorry i don't have an answer for you .
I can't remember for sure -- but it's possible that at some point I added warm water (cold water that I heated, not warm straight from the tap -- I know that can have increased contaminants) to the honey to make it pour better. But actually, I'm more inclined to soak the container in warm water to accomplish that, so I don't think I did.

It's one of those big jug-type containers that you don't really dip your spoon into -- we pour it into one of the smaller bear-shaped containers. But I'm honestly not sure how long we've had it. Could've been more than a year. We haven't been very big honey-eaters for a while.

But then, maybe it's not actually fermented -- maybe crystallized honey can have that same smell?

I'll have to check into it some more, and of course anyone's input is very welcome. I'm thinking I could cook it like this -- then serve dh and the girls something else for dinner, and just eat some of this myself and wait a day or so to see if it has any ill effects.

I have a very strong constitution: I think it's because my mom grew up in the depression so she never wastes anything. She's the mom who sends you home with the cake that's sat on her kitchen counter for a month ... she just can't finish it, but hates to see "good food" go to waste, so we say "Thanks!" and then empty it into a trash-can when we stop for gas .

But of course, as a kid I didn't know better and just gobbled whatever was in front of me. I just know that everyone around me can be laid up with food poisoning -- but I can eat the same dish and be fine.
post #13 of 42
Well, raw honey does have a little bit of a funky smell to it.
post #14 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieCatheryn View Post
Bringing it to 150F for like 25 minutes should kill anything in there and keep that new flavor somewhat. If you don't know what landed in there you have a bit of a crapshoot eating/drinking it without the heating first but many people do it anyway and once again, sometimes it's great.
This reassures me. I sure wouldn't want to eat it raw -- but somehow I just have this feeling that it will make the meat taste awesome! I guess we'll see.

Thanks to everyone for all the great responses! And thanks to mynetname for the link!

Since I'm cooking at around 200F for a good part of the day, it sounds like any harmful stuff will be killed.

And also, after googling about meat-cooking, I'm thinking maybe I don't even have to increase the temperature 350F at the end; it sounds like, from what I'm reading, 200 is plenty to kill most stuff ... one chart I saw showed 260F as the highest temperature necessary for killing stuff, so maybe I'll just turn it up to that for the last hour or so to be on the safe side. I'm hoping the meat will be more tender if I just low-cook it all the way.

I don't know if anyone wants to give input on this -- or if it's a subject for another thread? I'll be glad to hear more responses!
post #15 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by paquerette View Post
Well, raw honey does have a little bit of a funky smell to it.
Well, but this is waaaay stronger than the smell of the honey when we bought it!
post #16 of 42
I think that should be plenty safe enough.

If you do decide to get rid of the rest of it, I'd freecycle/craigslist it to a local brewer. seems a shame to toss out what might turn into a really nice mead.
post #17 of 42
You can buy fermented honey from Really Raw Honey http://www.reallyrawhoney.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc

I have had some of there regular honey ferment and I have eaten it and lived. It is pretty much the same, just bubbly. It is stored in glass though so that doesn't address the plastic issue.
post #18 of 42
My DH is a homebrewer and has made both mead and beer. Mead smells fruity and sweet (like wine) to me, not like beer. The key thing needed for fermentation is some sort of yeast. It could be wild yeast from whereever the honey came from or your kitchen could be colonized by yeast. (This is especially likely if you make your own bread.) My DH usually pasturiezes whatever he is brewing so that he can add his chosen yeast from the brewing store. Yeast mutates quickly so some wild strain can lead to an off tasting product.

Your cooking method looks like it will kill off any yeast and also any botulism that might be in the honey. The thing that would worry me is that if it was warm enough and juicy enough to get the yeast going then something else might have started growning too. There are heat stable toxins that cause food poisoning. So, the fermentation itself isn't the issue. It is just a sign that your honey is a hospitable place to live.
post #19 of 42
I wonder if some water might have splashed into the container if you stuck it in warm water to heat it up. Or maybe you opened it up in a humid kitchen, then closed the container, and then the water droplets condensed inside the honey jar after it was sealed up again (and the kitchen cooled off.)

Honestly, that sounds a lot more likely than some other mystery liquid getting into your honey jar.
post #20 of 42
Slightly OT, but I'm glad I found this thread. I've never heard of mead before, but it looks easy enough to make. Yummy!
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