TBT: How to Make an Herbal Honey
Originally published on Sunday, February 15th, 2009. This blog post was cited in a German patent application.
I wrote this article for my 2008 herbal honeys class. Here I’ve added some recipes. Honey is an excellent food and medicine all by itself. It heals wounds and burns. The conventional medical community has even started using it for treatment of burns.
Unlike vinegar, which mainly extract the minerals of the infused herb, honey also extracts the medicinal properties of the herb as well as much of the flavor. The honey essentially dehydrates the herb material. You’ll notice that the herb becomes crispy in the honey. The dehydative action is also how honey contains and kills bacteria. It dehydrates the bacteria, and in the case of aerobic bacteria, honey cuts off the air, too.
Honey itself is a potent medicinal. Its uses as a wound dressing go back to prehistoric times. We have written records of the ancient Egyptians using honey for dressing wounds. Most recently science and the medical community have verified honey’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Honey acts in several different ways to kill and contain bacterial. It draws water out of bacterial cells through osmosis, is acidic enough to kill certain types of bacteria and also contains hydrogen peroxide. Doctors have started using honey to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and severe burns with honey.
Honey is also a nutritious food. In Healing With Whole Foods the author states “All types of honey, both raw and heated, work naturally to harmonize the liver, neutralize toxins, and relieve pain.” p. 191. Aside from containing glucose, fructose, and other carbohydrates, honey also has several antioxidants, Vitamin C, B Vitamins and trace minerals. Honey may even contain naturally-occurring probiotics. It’s an excellent preservative, too – edible honey has even been found in the tombs of pharaohs!
Many people feel that honey is best unheated and unfiltered. I’m personally a proponent of local honey.
How to Make an Herbal Honey
Jar (any size) & lid
Labels & pen
Honey, preferably local (must be runny)
Fresh herb of your choice
Making an herbal honey is easy. Cut enough fresh herb to fill your jar. Chop fairly fine and put it into your jar. Fill jar with honey, poking and stirring with the chopstick to get all the air bubbles out. Cap your jar and label it with the herb and date made and date that it will be ready. Let sit for 6 weeks and then your honey is ready to eat! The infused honey can be strained or you can eat the herb, too. It’s fine if it crystallizes also.
Ways to Use Your Herbal Honey
Eat it by the spoonful (medicinal purposes or just because it tastes good!)
Spread it on toast with or without the herb
Use as a sweetener in an herbal syrup
Sweeten your tea or use it as an instant tea: one tablespoonful to a cup of hot water
Other Honey Recipes
Nan’s Cough Syrup
Chop onion, put on a plate, cover with honey & stir. Cover with another plate. Leave out for at least for hours or overnight. Take the juice that results. Dose is 1 tsp for an adult. And, seriously, this is what my grandma used, along with the addition of bourbon whiskey, of course!
Another Cough Syrup Recipe from herbalist Heather Nic An Fleicher
1/3 cup Garlic honey
2/3 cup Lemon balm vinegar
Mix together & use at a rate of 1 TBS per cup of hot water for cold & cough relief (adult doseage). Very warming.
Lemon-Honey Cold Relief
Juice of ½ lemon
Honey to taste (plain or herbal honey)
Pinch of sea salt
Lemon balm or echinacea tincture
Hot rosehip tea as the base instead of hot water
Juice the lemon into a mug (12 ounce mug works best). Add honey to taste. I add a lot; I like this sweet! Add the optional ingredients and fill with hot or boiling water.
This is really great if you feel like you’re getting a cold or already have one. It’s very hydrating as well as comforting and gives you a shot of Vitamin C (from the lemon) and all those good things from the honey. It’s best taken just before bed. If you use an herbal honey, I’d recommend lemon balm honey for its antiviral properties as well as flavor or ginger for its warming properties.
Garlic Honey - ready in 24 hours
Unpeeled garlic cloves
Stuff your jar with the unpeeled garlic cloves & then add the honey to cover. Put a lid on the jar & put the jar on a plate. It will ooze somewhat. This is ready in 24 hours. It’s yummy by itself but is also good for colds, flus, coughs, etc.
Edwards, Gail Faith. Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs. Ash Tree Publishing, 2000
Weed, Susun. Healing Wise. Ash Tree Publishing, 1989
Weed, Susun. Be Your Own Herbal Expert part 8, 2006 at www.susunweed.com
Pitchford, Paul. Healing With Whole Foods.
Wilson, Ananda. Herbal Honey article from March 2006 Weed Wanderings E-Newsletter
Downey, Charles. Sweet Solution; 2000; http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/14/1668_50175.htm