Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Preserving Summer Flavours with Honey

I've got a super cool how-to to share today, flavoured honey! This is a fine and fancy treat. And using honey, you can capture the summer's sweetest fruits and most fragrant herbs. I purchased some jars of raspberry honey and elderberry honey from a Mennonite farmer at the Savour Stratford market a few years ago, and as I started to run low on my supply, it occurred to me that I could do what I always do, and make it myself! DIY it!

Luckily for me, flavoured honey couldn't be easier to make. And the following instructions are so simple they can barely even be called a recipe. So I'll lay out some guidelines, and you choose your favourite fruit!

Here's what you'll need:

Fresh fruit (preferably pesticide free), honey, jars.

Honey is a powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial agent. It has a low pH level and a high sugar content, both of which help to hinder the growth of microbes. This makes it a perfect substance for preserving delicate fruits and herbs. Your homemade strawberry honey will be shelf stable, and will taste like sweet summer long into the ugly winter!

Preparing fruit honey is as easy as choosing your fruit and your honey! Once you have chosen, say strawberries and raw honey, all you need to do is settle on your ratio of berries to honey, and blend the two ingredients together. You may choose to do this over heat, or not. Blending the honey and fruit on the stovetop will result in a very different flavour. The flavoured honey produced over heat will have a 'cooked' (obviously, haha) and less fresh flavour, sort of like fruit jam. Once the fruit and honey are mixed, just pour the mixture into jars, seal with a lid (no canning involved), store and enjoy when the mood strikes you!

Here's my fresh strawberry honey (no cooking).

I washed and cleaned some local organic strawberries. Then I decided on a ratio of 3:1. Three parts honey (500g honey) to one part strawberries (165g berries).  I weighed out my berries and blended them in a blender. You could also use a food processor, or mash 'em up by hand, just don't add any water. 

Then I mixed the honey and the strawberry puree together in a bowl. (I told you this was easy!)

And then I was pretty much all done. This is what my fresh strawberry honey looked like. Yum!

Now, here is my stove-top raspberry honey (cooked),

I picked up a jar of honey and some nice pesticide free raspberries at my local farmer's market.

I decided on a ratio of 2:1, 500g of honey to 250g of raspberries, and I weighed out my berries.

 I combined the honey and strawberries in a pot and brought them to a boil over high heat (stirring constantly).  Once it reached a boil, I turned down to medium heat and let the honey simmer for a few minutes. 

I removed the pot from the heat (we have a gas stove so I can remove the heat without moving the pot) and used our little emersion blender to blitz the mixture a few times to make it smooth. Again, you could just mash the berries as you go, or transfer the hot honey to a blender and blend as much or as little as you like.

Can't you just taste those tangy raspberries when you look at this picture?

I had so much fun making my berry honey two ways. Here's what I learned:

I really preferred the taste of the fresh berry honey. They are both delightful, how could they not be?, but the taste of the fresh summer strawberries is so striking. The flavour is so wonderfully and magically preserved in the honey, it's like you're out in the strawberry field... 

Also, I like the lower fruit ratio better. I found that the raspberry honey had too much fruit and it made the honey a bit too runny and not very 'honey-like' for lack of a better word. I think for me, 3 or 4 parts honey to 1 part fruit is a much better balance. 

Try it out for yourself and see what you think! You may love the cooked honey with lots of fruit! 
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that the possibilities are endless for this easy to make treat! You could blend in blueberries, blackberries, orange blossom, mint... Perhaps a combination! Maybe strawberry basil honey, or a dark cherry and rose honey! 

If you're wondering just how to go about blending herbs in with your honey, come back to the blog tomorrow for a short post on how to make lavender honey. 

See you then!

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