Infused Honey for Cooking and Health

 

The fruit of bees is desired by all, and is equally sweet to kings and beggars and not only pleasing but profitable and healthful; it sweetens their mouths, cures their wounds. – Saint Ambrose

8,000-year-old cave painting of honey gathering.

As a Chef, tea drinker and (very) amateur beekeeper, I’ve always loved honey. Honey gathering started at least 8,000 years ago and has been practiced throughout both the ancient and modern world and among many diversified societies.

What could drive someone to thrust an unprotected hand into a beehive to scoop out a glob of insect regurgitation? Well, the easy answer is it tastes good, was the world’s first sweetener and preservative, and has many medicinal uses.

Because of honey’s elevated acidity and high sugar content, it is an excellent preservative and absorbs flavors easily. Honey readily takes on the flavors of herbs, spices, fruit peels and even odd bits like garlic and chilies.

There are two main ways to infuse your honey. Both are quite easy.

Cold Infusion

Cold infusion is as simple as placing the herbs in a jar, covering them with honey and allowing the blend to sit for 2 weeks, then press through a fine mesh strainer. This method is the easiest but can be a sticky mess. Like no petting the cat for a few hours kind of a sticky mess.

Hot Infusion

Hot infusion is quicker and cleaner than cold infusion. As honey is heated it becomes thinner, easier to pour and handle, & absorbs flavor faster. Because honey burns easily and at a very low temperature, the hot infusion method can’t be done over direct heat. A double boiler will be required, and something as simple as a steel mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water will work.

Flavors

There are numerous herbs and spices that can be used: Lavender (good glaze for duck), Basil, Rose Petals Cinnamon, Rosemary (good paired with bleu cheese), Apple or Orange Blossoms, Star Anise, Garlic… really almost anything goes. Store infused honey at room temperature and it will keep indefinitely. Refrigeration will cause crystallization.

 

Recipes

 

ITEMS WE USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE