I love honey.
Light or dark, liquid or crystallized, in my tea or right off the spoon. I love it.
Not only is it delicious, it can ease sore throats and coughs from scratchy throats, and many people find eating local honey during allergy season relieves their symptoms.
During the winter, plain honey can be useful to ease symptoms of coughs and colds, especially when added to warm herbal teas, but becomes especially helpful when infused with herbs.
Every year I make my Winter Thyme Elixir™, a herbal-infused honey to ward off colds and flus. While I can't give away all my secrets, I'm going to teach you how to make your own infused honeys that can be added to teas, yogurt, desserts, smoothies, or taken by the spoonful. Infused honeys also make a great gift for family and friends.
Just like other DIY projects, the more you experiment, the more confident you'll become, and the easier it will be to create new recipes for yourself. To start out, I will teach you how to make a ginger and elderberry honey.
What You Will Need
Don't be thrown off by the length of heating time. It can be done while you're cleaning, reading, binging on Netflix, or anything else you do at home, and the time can be split up if needed.
Set up the double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler, you can improvise by using a heat-resistant glass jar or measuring cup (like Pyrex) set inside a saucepan of water. The basic idea is to heat the honey gently with the water instead of direct contact with the heat source. You can also use a crockpot, though even on the lowest setting, a crockpot can sometimes be too warm for herbal preparations. Use whichever method works best for you.
Wash the fresh ginger root (scrub it like a potato), leaving the peel on. Cut the root thinly, in slices averaging 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch until you have about 1 cup. Making herbal food products is rarely an exact science, so don't worry about being exact when slicing or measuring. Close enough is just fine. Add the sliced ginger to the pot (or jar or crockpot).
Measure the dried elderberries and add them to the pot with the ginger. Fresh elderberries can also be used, but unless you are collecting them yourself, dried are easy to find from herbal suppliers online and easier to store and use whenever you need them.
Measure two cups of local honey, and pour over the ginger and elderberries.
Turn your stove to a medium-low setting until the water (not the honey!) starts simmering, then turn it down to the lowest setting. If you're using a crockpot, turn it on to the lowest setting, and leave it there. Cover and wait. If you're using a jar or measuring cup, cover with tin foil.
The waiting time will vary (see tips below), but the honey should warm for at least 4 hours. 8-12 hours is ideal. Keep an eye on the amount of water in the pan and add water as needed. Do not let the pan run dry.
When the honey is finished infusing, you will need to strain it before use. I use a small stainless steel (3ish inch) fine mesh strainer that works perfectly, but you can use any strainer. Metal is easiest to clean honey from, but you can also use cheesecloth, or whatever you have on hand. For ease, strain while the honey is still hot, and pour immediately into a clean glass jar (Mason, Ball, or reused food jar like a glass peanut butter jar or coconut oil jar). Let cool, then cover.
After you strain the honey, you will be left with honey-soaked ginger slices and elderberries. These can be eaten like candy, carried and used as you would any ginger product (such as for nausea or digestive troubles), or used to flavor blended fall soups like carrot or sweet potato. Spread the ginger pieces and elderberries in a single layer on a baking sheet or layer of waxed paper. Leave to cool, then put them in the other jar (or another air-tight container). The ginger "candies" will harden slightly, but will always remain sticky.
Infused Honey Tips
Make the honey on a day where you will be home for at least 4 hours, but if you need to split up the process, you can do that. Leave the honey covered, and remove from heat until you can turn it on again.
To decide when the ginger honey is ready (again, there is no exact time), taste a piece of ginger. If the ginger "candy" tastes too spicy, leave the honey heating for longer. Test every 1-2 hours. The infusing will usually have met its limit by 8-12 hours.
If the infused honey ends up too strong, add some plain honey and stir well (easiest to do when warm). If you want super strong honey, double infuse by straining the ginger and elderberries out, and adding fresh herbs back in.
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Two years ago, I was browsing in a bookstore, and I picked up a book on their bestsellers table. I liked the way the book looked and felt in my hands, and I made a split second decision to buy it just before they closed, completely unaware that what I felt was what the book was about - an item sparking joy in myself. The book was Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
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I make lip balm is a good, basic answer but not the whole story.
I'm a herbalist* and aromatherapist and I make products is a better description of what I do, but it feels like I'm selling my brand short.
I own a small natural skincare and aromatherapy company is my favorite straightforward answer, but it's often met with questions like these:
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"Do you make under eye serums?"
"Do you have something for these wrinkles, haha?"
I love aromatherapy inhalers.
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