From the HBD Archive
From: ileaf!io!peoria!cjh@EDDIE.MIT.EDU (Chip Hitchcock)
Subject: honey=preservative
Date: 1990-03-14 17:04:34 GMT

>From: "FEINSTEIN" <crf@pine.circa.ufl.edu>

>As honey is, in and of itself, a preservative to some extent,

Huh?

Honey at full strength is a preservative for much the same reason that a
strong salt solution is a preservative (e.g., osmotic pressure destroys
anything that tries to live in it). Whether you use brine or honey as a
preservative depends largely on what you're trying to preserve (Have a slice
of grandma's honey-crusted brisket! And how about some apricot brine pickles
for desert?).
Honey is basically a strong solution of certain sugars with assorted
\trace/ elements and impurities, none of which have much effect besides
flavor. (Some of them even get removed---a lot of mead recipes say -"boil
quite a while and skim repeatedly"-.)
In fact, any strong sugar solution would preserve as well as honey---it's
just that most preservations using honey date from a time/place when refined
sugar wasn't available. Now it's also a matter of taste---many people like
the impurities (buckwheat honey!), or the flavor you get from the differing
assortment of sugars. Tastes vary; there are even people who like straight
fructose, which I think has more ]individuality[ than sweetness. (And some
people feel honey or fructose is more virtuous (or nutritious---hah!) than
refined sugar.)
I very much doubt that a weak, unhopped solution of honey (e.g., about the
strength of unfermented mead) would be any more resistant to infection than a
similar solution of refined sugar or malt extract (i.e., not at all); a
fully-fermented, unhopped mead would probably be just as touchy as an
unhopped brew of similar strength.

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