Got the first whiff of fall at my neck of the woods which means I need to adjust my thinking about grabbing a jacket on my way out. This transitional time of year always has an ancestral effect on my psyche, like I need to collect and save stuff because you know, winter is coming. It’s funny how this instinct kicks in even though we live in a world where everything is available, always.
With cooler nights and days slowly but surely shortening, our morning rituals change as well. We stopped drinking tea around May, but know the demand is back. A pot of steaming goodness with a little honey and a few drops of lemon juice, accompanied by a purring furball in each of our laps. Talk about comfy.
As for honey, we don’t buy from the supermarket any more but are getting it by the bucket straight from a honey farmer. You should find a reputable local beekeeper close by too since it’s virtually impossible to know the source of honey on the shelves (remember the headlines of contaminated, illegally labeled Chinese products…). Honey is a classic example of the expression you get what you pay for and can get quite pricey, so buy in bulk.
Purchasing from the source not only helps keep local farmers in business, but it’s actually honey. From actual bees. Moreover, while most commercial honeys are pasteurized and ultra-filtered, honey farmers sell raw, unheated products that have retained all the nutritional benefits.
If you don’t like honey that crystallized over time, you can gently heat it in a water bath to dissolve, or you can divide a big batch to smaller portions and freeze, which will not harm the enzymes.
Crystallization isn’t an indication that the honey has gone bad, in fact, honey doesn’t have an expiration date. BTW honey that tends to solidify quickly has a high amount of pollen, which many mass-market manufacturers extract during the filtering process to make their product more visually appealing. What a waste!
Honey is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic and actively promotes the healing of tissues. Add the health benefits of herbs to the equation, and you have yourself a wonder-worker: apart from being insanely delicious, herbal honey may also be used medicinally (taken internally or used externally as well).
Sore throat? Sage honey. Toothache? Clove honey. Minor burns? Chamomile honey, and the list goes on. Enjoy straight from the spoon, in tea, lemonade, drizzled over desserts, fresh fruit, ice cream, oatmeal, on toast with butter, or even in salad dressings.
Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, lemon balm, lavender, elderflower, chamomile and nettle all make lovely infused honey. You can also use spices like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger or star anise.
Create single-herb infusions or figure out blends for your liking. Equal parts lavender, chamomile, lemon balm and nutmeg for instance makes a lovely concoction to help you fall asleep easy. The rule of thumb is 1 part herbs to 3 parts honey, but it’s not an exact science, freely adjust to taste and experiment. Like, I use less lavender than the aforementioned amount because it can get a little overwhelming.
Food safety: the typical pH value of honey ranges between 3.4 and 6.1 so it’s acidic enough. To make sure you prevent the outgrowth of C. botulinum spores, herbs should be dry. Use clean glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Herbal honey should keep indefinitely if you store it out of direct sunlight.
I made this tiny jar as a hostess gift with home grown lavender. You guessed, that is my handwriting. 🙂 I love these inexpensive kraft paper labels that I ordered at AliExpress, my favorite source for craft supplies. The basic recipe for infused honey is as follows:
mildly flavored raw honey
- Fill jar about ¼ of the way with dry herbs.
- Pour honey over herbs, close jar tightly.
- Let infuse for a few weeks, but at least 5 days. Herbs may rise to the top and absorb some of the honey.
- Strain honey into a clean jar, and make a big pot of tea right away with the leftover herbs.
*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*
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