Herb-infused honey is one of the simplest and most delicious ways to get the health benefits offered by honey and medicinal plants.
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I have always believed this philosophy to be a foundational guide to our health, and I also think that our food doesn’t have to taste like medicine! There is no reason why using plants to support natural health can’t be creative, delicious, and simple.
We know that raw honey is healthy for us. It is also widely accepted that herbs can be used to help balance and heal the body. Something altogether different happens to both substances when they are combined. This is an accepted fact in folkloric traditions worldwide. Interestingly, there are many modern scientific studies that support and explain why this old medicine way is so important for us.
Infusions are some of the simplest and most beautiful sweet remedies you can make. A successful infusion requires a connection between you and your recipe, blending your intuition and taste preference with the science of chemical extraction. Each infusion you make will be entirely, uniquely yours as a result.
Very simply, infusions are created by adding fresh herbs or spices to raw honey and allowing them to steep. There is no heat added in the process. Instead, infusions are stirred regularly and may be kept in sunlight for at least 2 weeks and up to 6 weeks to allow the flavor and the benefit of the plant to be transferred into the honey. At the end of this period, the herbs or spices are strained out. The enhanced honey is then left to be eaten on its own or added into recipes.
When I first started making herb-infused honey, my inspiration came from the folkloric practice of making a tincture. It seemed to me that you should be able to infuse herbs into honey the same way you would infuse them into alcohol or vinegar. Honey is hydrophilic, meaning it loves water. As a medium, honey will pull water-soluble elements out of herbs and absorb those elements into itself, creating an infusion. You will find other methods using a pan and stove or adding essential oils and flavorings, but I do not recommend these. Making herb-infused honey the way we do requires some patience, but your efforts will be rewarded with a healthier and much better-tasting result.
Recipe for Citrus Zing Infused Honey
This blend is great for summer grilling. I love it over shrimp or chicken.
Zest from 2 large oranges
¾ cup spicy peppers
1 quart raw honey
Step 1: Add the orange zest to a jar.
Step 2: Cut up the peppers of your choice. Choose wisely! We like a blend of serrano and habanero, but you can alter this to be more or less spicy. The most important thing to note in this step is to let the peppers wilt. To do this, simply cut up the peppers and leave them on your cutting board for 4 to 8 hours until they have wilted. Peppers have a high water content and will quickly cause problems unless you take your time here.
Step 3: Add the wilted peppers to the orange zest.
Step 4: Pour in the honey, leaving ¼ to ½ inch of space at the top of your jar. Wait for the herb to begin to soak into the honey and release any air bubbles. Fill in any more honey that is required once everything has settled.
Step 5: Cover with a lid.
Step 6: Set the jar in the sunlight or in the dehydrator set at 95°F (35°C) to infuse.
Step 7: Taste often. This infusion rarely needs a second addition of ingredients and may take only 2 to 3 weeks.
Step 8: Strain out the solid ingredients and use them if you wish. Store your honey in the refrigerator. Use within 3 months.