*Disclaimer: Honey should never be given to children under the age of 1 due to the risk of becoming sick with botulism! *
My post on challah was inspiration to do an entirely separate post on honey. Growing up, we always had honey in the house. It was usually a big jar of honey with the honeycomb, given to us from someone who raised bees. For a while it was my Poppy (my dad's dad), when he had bees, but then just others we knew. I don't know if my mom ever bought honey. I have never been a fan of honey with the comb intact, or really honey in general--I've never liked the flavor. The texture of the comb never did anything for me, although it looks very comforting for some reason. Honey's color ranges from white, to a beautiful deep amber, is shiny, smooth, and just plain beautiful.
During college, during my junior year, I attempted to make a strawberry honey mead. I bought strawberries from my hometown, and a bunch of local wildflower honey from the Radford, VA area. My mead never worked out, but that was my first experiment with honey outside of putting it on toast! When I got pregnant with my first child, my midwife recommended an herbal tea blend to drink throughout my pregnancy, and suggested using honey as a sweetener. So, in keeping true to the idea of wanting to buy local honey for additional health benefits, we found a local apiary and he loaded us up on his amazing sourwood honey. Sour wood is what converted me to loving honey! In the last couple of years we found another supplier for our local honey--the honey is actually collected from hives less than a mile from our house, and is generally clover honey! Mr. Jones and his wife are absolutely some of the nicest people, and offer a never ending supply for our honey needs and desires--for free! They are truly a Godsend! These are the five beautiful jars they gave us last week.
The amount of honey I used pregnancy tea made honey a basic staple in our house. Now we go through a pint a month at least! I use it in everything from herbal teas, cooking, sandwiches, as a sweetener for my tinctures, and making cough syrups when the kids are sick. I will get to all these in the future, but if you are really that interested, just add a comment and we'll talk! It's said that honey even has skin soothing properties for bug bites, dry skin, eczema, and so on. Honey is truly nature's homemade, and has healing properties all it's own. Honey also stores extremely well, as it has anti-microbial properties, and is slightly acidic, deterring bacteria growth. If you have honey stored that has crystallized, just pop it in the microwave for a short blast to help those crystals liquify again.
For use in herbal tea: Add 1-2 tbsp of honey per cup of tea to acheive a sweet and mellow flavor enhancer for your tea.
For use in cooking: Honey can be substituted for sugar in most recipes. You may need to cut back on the amount of liquid you add to your recipe.
Sandwiches: Add honey as a spread to peanut butter, banana, jelly, or any other favorite sandwich for added sweetness.
For sweetening tinctures: Heat 1/4 cup apple juice or water to boiling, remove from heat, and add in your desired amount of tincture. Let set for 2 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate. Stir in 1 tbsp of honey. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down! This is especially good with a chamomile tincture before bed.
For making cough syrup: I like to use dried elderberries to make an effective cough/cold/flu fighting syrup for my kids (this will be another post entirely); this is also equally effective for adults. Boil 1 cup of water, remove from heat, and add 2 oz. of dried elderberries. Let this decoction set until cool. Strain out elderberries, then reheat until warm. Stir in 1/4 cup of honey. Cool again, bottle in a glass jar that seals well, label, and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Begin taking this syrup as soon as any symptoms begin! For children under 2, give 1/2 tsp 3 times daily until symptoms are gone, children 5-12 can have 3/4 tsp, adults can have 1 tsp, making one dose before bed for cough soothing effect. This may have a very slight laxative effect in some children. This has helped our family overcome colds in less than 2 days--I kid you not!
As I post, you will see the specific uses and benefits of honey in our home, and I hope you will be inspired to let honey play a role in your own household.