Honey is amazing. There’s a lot of buzz going on right now (pun intended) about how bad sugar is, to which I heartily agree. Added sugar is in way to much of our “food” (processed food), things you wouldn’t even expect such as spinach dip or tomato sauce have oodles of added sugar. This is terrible for one’s health. And don’t even get me started on corn syrup.
However, true to form in our Western way of thinking, a carb equals a carb equals a carb. A fat equals a fat. To most Western trained dieticians, fat from an avocado is the same as fat from prime rib. It counts as fat. And sugar counts as maple syrup counts as honey counts as corn syrup. It’s all added sugar, it’s all carbs, it’s all the same right? I disagree.
Way back in the nineties a WHOLE big chain of health FOODS stores would not sell anything with sugar. It was awesome! I could go to their bakery and things were honey sweetened, maple syrup sweetened, brown rice syrup sweetened. It was great! But then along came new sugar crystal products. Suddenly there were signs up in the store (literally!) about how honey is just the same for you health-wise as sugar, how a carb is a carb, and they realize how close-minded and out-dated their belief system is and BOOM, from then on the shelves were FILLED with cereals and other foods with sugar. Now at the bakery if you try to find something with only maple syrup or honey, well, good luck.
Honey, especially raw honey, contains living enzymes as well as vitamins and minerals, includiing B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.
Honey has been used by herbalists for thousands of years. Honey has anti-bacterial properties, anti-tumer properties, energy boosting properties (well, ok, duh, sugar.) Herbalists have used honey to treat sore throats, coughs, nausea, all sorts of things. And believe me, when you make your own baked goods or foods with a little honey or maple syrup, there is literally a little honey or maple syrup. You are being mindful and conscious and getting way less sugar than the loads you get hidden in the products at the grocery store.
Honey is also a great way to incorporate healing herbs and wild edible plants into your diet. I love making things like infused honeys, vinegars, jams and butters that I actually use. It’s nice to make a tincture every once in a while, but those tend to sit on my shelf for years. The other things I use daily. (I also love drying plants to use as teas, I use these all the time, too!)
Herbal and wild flower infused honeys are so amazing. I add them to tea, spread them on toast or rice cakes or drizzle them over homemade scones. And they are wonderfully easy to make. First get yourself some high quality (which usually means local) raw honey. Then find some empty jars. Now find your favorite herbs or wild flowers and you are in business. In general here is what I do:
- Fill the jar halfway with fresh plants. Good ones to use for honeys include: violet flowers, calendula flowers, any kind of mint, sage, basil, anise hyssop, ginger, fennel.
- Next pour honey over the herbs to fill the jar. Use a chopstick to tamp down and release air bubbles.
- Cover and let sit in a warm place (the sun works well!) for at least 10 days before use. The honey will keep a long time, just keep the herbs right in there. They won’t mold, honey will act as a preservative. And the herbs are yummy to eat when spread on bread!
- Label! Label as you would everything: the plant or plants, the medium (honey) and the date, including the year.
Herbal Infused Honeys and Sun Tea
Above are three honeys I made recently: calendula and chocolate mint, lemon balm leaves and lemon peel, the third is sage leaves. On the left is chocolate mint sun tea. All you do to make sun tea is fill a jar with fresh herbs, cover with water, put the lid on and set it in the sun for at least 6 hours, but that is another post!
~ Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac
Food Under Foot
Birch Center for Health