If you peek inside my cupboards, you'll see countless little jars of herb and honey concoctions that are both delicious and healing. Making herb-infused honey has become one of my favorite ways to use leftover sprigs of thyme from cooking dinner, a handful of wild mint found while foraging, or the buds of an edible flower bouquet. It couldn't be easier to do. And if you start now, there's plenty of time to make them for holiday gifts, too. How might one use herb-infused honey? The possibilities are endless. Use it to sweeten tea, lemonade, fruit, and baked goods; stir it into salad dressings and marinades; or serve it with a cheese plate. Herbal honeys may also be used medicinally, for example, sage honey to relieve a sore throat or chamomile honey to promote relaxation. I generally like to create single-herb honeys, but you can also get creative and prepare a blend – maybe your own signature honey!
How to Make Herb-Infused Honey
What You Need
Basic formula: Use about 1-2 tablespoons of dried herbs per 1 cup (8 ounces) of honey.
Honey: A light, mild flavored honey generally works best. (Use the Honey Locator and support your local bees and beekeepers.)
Herbs: Use a single herb or a combination. Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, rose petals, and pine needles all make lovely infused honeys. You can also use spices like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Herbs should be dry; see instructions below.
Clean, dry jars and lids (half-pint and pint mason jars work well)
Chopstick, wooden spoon handle, or other stirrer (avoid metal, which can scratch jars)
Clean cloth for wiping jar rims
1. Prepare herbs: Herbs should be dry (see safety note, below) and may be in the form of whole sprigs or separated leaves, buds, and petals. Chopped herbs may infuse more quickly, but they may also be harder to strain out. (To dry fresh herbs, use an air or oven drying method, dehydrator, or microwave.)
2. Combine herbs and honey: Place herbs in the bottom of a jar and fill the jar almost to the top with honey. Using a chopstick or other implement, stir to coat the herbs with honey. Top off with more honey to fill the jar. Wipe the jar rim with a clean cloth and cover tightly.
Tip: Label the jar with the contents and date so you don't forget!
3. Infuse: Let the herbs infuse for at least 5 days. If the herbs float to the top, turn the jar over a few times to keep them well coated. For a more intense flavor, infuse for another week or longer.
4. Strain: Strain the honey into a clean jar. Depending on the volume of honey and herbs and the size of the strainer, you may need to do this in stages. (Tip: Use the leftover herbs to make a tisane.)
5. Store: Store the honey in a tightly covered jar in a cool, dry place. It will last indefinitely.
A Note on Safety:
Although some people make infused honeys with fresh herbs, this process calls for dried herbs in order to limit water activity and the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores. For more details, see Clemson Extension's Is herb-infused honey safe to prepare at home?
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(Images: Emily Ho)