Naturopathic Kitchen: Infused Honey

Wooden spoon leaning on a jar of honey with herbs in it.

Honey is often used as a healthier alternative to sugar, but not necessarily thought of as anything more than that. 1 In addition to being a sweet treat and a more health-conscious choice than sugar, sustainably produced, local honey has a number of health benefits of its own. 2  

 

Health Benefits of Honey

Rich in antioxidants, 3 emerging research indicates that honey may promote cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of some types of cancer, and improve eye health. 4 Additional data shows that adding honey to your diet may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. 5  Topical honey also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and stimulates tissue growth, which is why it has long been used to promote wound healing. 6  When applied topically, honey may help to heal minor cuts, bruises, burns, and rashes. 7  

Keep in mind that honey is high in calories and should be consumed in moderation. Always choose high-quality, local and organic honey when possible.

*Honey should not be consumed by children under the age of two or in those with decreased immune systems.

 

Infused Honey

You can increase the amount of health benefits in honey by infusing your own with herbs and edible flowers. Infused honey can be made with any combination of herbs you like to get the taste and health benefits that you’re looking for. Infused honey can be used just like regular honey–add it to tea or coffee as a sweetener, spread it on toast, drizzle it on your favorite frozen dessert or yogurt, or add it to baked goods. 

You can use any herbs, spices, or edible flowers as ingredients in your infused honey. The possibilities are endless–you can try infusing honey with just one added ingredient or combine several to create a custom flavor. Popular ingredients for infused honey include:

  • Lavender
  • Rose Petals
  • Chamomile
  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Lemon Balm
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla
  • Anise
  • Peppermint
  • Citrus Peel
  • Rosemary
  • Basil

 

How to Infuse Honey

Courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs

 

No-Heat Method

Ingredients

  • Dried organic herbs and spices of your choice 
  • Raw, local honey

Directions

  • Fill a clean quart jar a little less than halfway with dried herbs and spices.
  • Pour in your honey and watch as it slowly finds its way to the bottom. Be sure that your herbs are fully submerged.
  • Put a lid on the jar and place it on a sunny windowsill. Keeping it warm will allow the herbs to infuse better and also makes the liquid more pourable.
  • Turn the jar over at least once per day. 
  • You will want to allow this mixture to infuse for at least one week, and up to 4 weeks. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor will be.
  • When the honey has infused to your taste, strain out the herbs.
  • Store your herb-infused honey in a cool, dark place in a tightly sealed jar to help maintain optimal freshness. 

*If using home-grown herbs or flowers, wash well before drying the plants and place in a freezer for several hours to kill any bugs that may have made a home on the plant.

 

Heated Method

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried or fresh organic herbs and spices of your choice 
  • 2 cups local honey

Directions

  • Transfer herbs to a cold saucepan.
  • Pour your honey into a saucepan over herbs and turn on stove heat to medium.
  • Stir to fold herbs into honey. This process will become easier as honey heats up. Heat slowly so that herbs don’t scorch and honey does not boil over!
  • Stir frequently until honey just begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Repeat steps 3 and 4 several times, either throughout the day or over multiple days (covering between heatings to keep out insects).
  • When the honey has infused to your taste, strain out the herbs.
  • Store your herb-infused honey in a cool, dark place to help maintain optimal freshness.

 

Herbal Honey Recipes

Cinnamon Spice Honey

Yields 1 quart (32 oz.)

1 1/4 cups organic cassia cinnamon chips

3/4 cup organic ginger root

6 organic cardamom pods

4 organic star anise pods

Honey (raw local honey is best)

 

Sleepy Time Honey

Yields 1 quart (32 oz.)

3/4 cup organic lavender flowers

3/4 cup organic chamomile flowers

Honey (raw local honey is best)

 

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the healing capacity of food and other natural health practices, naturopathic medicine may be a good fit for you.

 

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