Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Honey of a Time... With Infused Honey

It's been a hectic past few months. Between Super Storm Sandy clean up and the Holiday season, life has seemed to pass by in a blur. Now that we've welcomed in 2013, I've had a little time to catch up on some of my herbal chores. Of course these aren't really chores at all. They are the favored tasks that you reward yourself with when all the rest has been done. What have I been doing? Oh, how sweet a task it is. I've been decanting and setting up my herbal infused honeys.

The sweetness and health benefits of honey are well documented. Whether you're using honey in your skin care, food or for your health, you can give it a boost with some herbal input. And it is so very, very easy.
Ginger swimming in honey.

What You'll Need:
  • Clean mason jar/s
  • Honey (my favorite is Herberstville Honey. Try to use local honey to aid with allergy immunity building)
  • Your favorite fresh or dried herbs. Personally, I prefer using dried, except for roses. Less chance of moisture getting into the honey and causing problems such as mold or fermentation. Of course, fermentation could lead to an interesting mead, but that's another story for another day.

Make sure your mason jar is clean. Run it through the dishwasher or submerge in water and boil for a few minutes. Make sure the jar is thoroughly dried before using.

Loosely fill the jar to about two thirds full with your favorite herb, spice or combination.

Vanilla beans soaking in honey.
Pour the honey into the jar to cover the herbs. Stir with a knife or something long to remove all the air pockets. Top off with some more honey.

Cover tightly and put in a sunny windowsill or on a shelf you check fairly often.

Every few days turn the jar over to circulate the honey and herbs. Let the jar sit for at least two weeks or longer. The longer it sits, the stronger the infusion will be.

I just decanted a cinnamon infused honey that had been steeping for almost a year. I will admit that I only flip or check the jars every month or so when I'm letting it set up for that long a time.  It's divine! So extraordinarily yummy on waffles.

Here are some herb or spice combinations to try:
Honey dripping from vanilla sooo yummy!
  • Rose petals. You can use fresh or dried petals (untreated, naturally). If you use fresh petals you don't even have to strain - just use eat the petals like a jam.
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon - use just the sticks. Powder is OK, but it can make it gritty.
  • Vanilla
  • Chai - use cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, a few black peppercorns, a vanilla bean, cloves, allspice, star anise, or other chai flavoring that you like
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Herbs - I like to combine lemon thyme, lemon balm, and lemon verbena
  • Orange or lemon - use the peels cleaned of pith
  • Rosemary
  • Hot peppers - this is great in barbecue sauce or as a glaze for ribs or ham
  • Ginger
  • Calendula petals
  • Elderberries - dried make a wonderful cough syrup

Use your imagination! These honeys are great to use in cooking or in teas, or straight off the spoon!

Of course, honey's not just great for your insides - it's fabulous for your outsides. I like using Calendula honey straight on cuts and scraps. We use ginger infused honey in our Orange Ginger Sugar Scrub.  Rose infused is used in our Rose n' Dew Sugar Scrub and the Rose 'n' Dew Face Spritz.

And if you want to ease away the stress of the past few months, try some Lavender honey in your tea - or in your bath!

Have fun making infused honeys. Let me know what herbal combinations you're trying, and I'll keep you posted of mine.

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