There is no clear history regarding infused honey. A review of existing literature discussing honey, however, reveals the practice of mixing honey with herbs. For example, in James Green’s book The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual, the author made mention of the practice of a 19th-century practitioner of naturopathic medicine describing herb-infused honey. Green wrote: “Combining honey with a strong infusion of sage is a classic preparation for relieving hoarseness and respiratory congestion. The eminent German hydrotherapist, Father Kneipp, maintained that if a little honey were added to herbal remedies, it would greatly enhance their efficacy.”
This goes to show that infused honey is not just a mere fad. Infused honey is popular today because of the layers of flavor it lends to food and cooking, but more importantly, the fusion of honey and herbs make for a potent remedy for ailments and illnesses, and man has been aware of this even before.
It is possible that the demand for infused honey grew because of its two characteristics: medicinal and aromatic. Not only can infused honey help in alleviating health problems, but it also helps improve the aroma of food and drinks, making these enjoyable to consume. In today’s times, wherein many consumers are consciously making choices that they perceive as healthy, the infused honey as a product is hard to ignore or pass up if you ever come around this in the grocery or farmers market.
In a research article entitled A novel honey-based product enriched with coumarin from Melilotus flowers published in 2019 in the Journal of Food Measurement and Characterization, authors Patrycja Sowa, Maria Tarapatskyy, Czesław Puchalski, Wacław Jarecki, and Małgorzata Dżugan wrote: “Intense efforts are made to combine the health benefits of honey and herbs. Numerous new products have appeared on the market, called herb-infused honey, produced by transferring the bioactive compounds of herbs into the honey during infusion.”
The 2008 book Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (Volume 1) mentioned several times how ancient civilizations have been utilizing infused honey, which means it is highly likely that the practice of infusing honey goes as far back as the ancient times. “The ancient Egyptians were not the only people who used honey as medicine. The Chinese, Indians, ancient Greeks, Romans, and Arabs used honey in combination with other herbs.”
The book cited the work of renowned Muslim physician Ibn Sina who authored the great medical treatise the Canon regarding the use of honey which suggests the practice of infusion. “For lung disease, early-stage tuberculosis, use a combination of honey and shredded rose petals.”
An 1890 issue of Public Opinion: A Weekly Review of Current Thought and Activity published by the Ohio State University also made mention of (or alluded to the practice of) infusing honey: “To cure indigestion, mix tebu herbs with honey.”
Infused Honey Trivia
- The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that honey can prolong life.
- Muslim physician Al Razi (AD 864-932), author of the esteemed medical textbook Encyclopedia of Medicine, recommends mixing honey and vinegar to whiten teeth. This also helps keep the gums healthy.
- Honey is used to preserve cadavers
Infused Honey Buying Guide
When buying infused honey, consider how you intend to use it. Do you need it for its aromatic quality? Are you planning to use it as a home remedy? If you are planning to use it for cooking, what food or dish are you preparing? By answering these questions, you can identify which infused honey fits your needs.
If you come across a store, stall, kiosk, or boutique selling infused honey, usually, there are a variety of infused honey to choose from. Some infused honey involves one ingredient besides honey. Other infused honey varieties feature the combination of two or more ingredients (e.g. lemon ginger-infused honey).
Below are some of the common varieties of infused honey.
- Herbs – Some of the herbs commonly infused with honey include thyme, chamomile, sage, rosemary, and mint.
- Spice – Ginger, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, cardamom, and anise
- Chili Peppers – Jalapeno and chili seeds
- Fruits – Lemon, orange, apple, and pineapple
- Flowers – rose, lilac, and peonies
- Essential oils
Herbal honey is different from herb-infused honey. The book Llewellyn’s 2012 Herbal Almanac explained the distinction. “Herbal honeys are honeys produced naturally by bees using…the nectar from a single type of flowering herb…Herb-infused honeys, while delicious in their own right, are concocted by humans, who put freshly cut herbs or spices into a mild flavored light honey, such as clover honey.”
Infused Honey Production & Farming in Texas
Texas is sixth in the US in honey production in 2019, thanks to the three groups of beekeepers in Texas: hobbyists, sideliners, and commercial beekeepers.
According to a March 2019 report by the US Department of Agriculture, 132,000 honey-producing colonies in Texas produced 7.4 million pounds of honey in 2019. North Dakota has 550,000 and is currently the top producer in the US. The total production of honey in the US in 2019 is at 154 million pounds.
Texas is not the top producer of honey but many of the bees in top-producing states bring their bees to Texas during the winter because bees need the mild winter climate to survive. In East Texas, the climate is ideal for a prolonged honey flow that begins in February or March and this can last until the end of the year. Honey flow in Central Texas happens in spring coinciding with the major wildflower blooms in the state. In West Texas, there are fewer nectar sources.
The main problem of beekeepers in Texas is Varroa mites which is the reason why colonies collapse.
Because of the supply of honey available in Texas, many Texans with entrepreneurial spirit explored the business of making and selling infused honey. While there are no available statistics about the volume of production and sales of infused honey in Texas, this product is ubiquitous in many point-of-sale locations like groceries, pharmacy, specialty stores, artisanal boutiques, and farmers markets.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Honey is known to last for many years. It is one of the many amazing qualities of this natural food. This is the reason why honey does not need preservatives or any artificial additives. These chemicals are present in products that pretend to be honey, and these are known by many different names: artificial honey; honey-flavored corn syrup; honey-flavored; and quite plainly, an artificial sweetener. These products, typically diluted with high-fructose corn syrup and sweeteners, contain not just brown rice syrup, glucose syrup, dyes, flavors, and flavor enhancers. Others, including substandard, low-quality honey, even contain chemicals like the carcinogenic antibiotic chloramphenicol used against foulbrood disease, as well as antibiotics and heavy metals like lead.
Infused honey is sold in containers with resealable lids, usually mason jars. Some manufacturers use glass bottles while other companies prefer plastic bottles. The packaging of infused honey includes a label that provides the consumer with important information about the product.
Enjoying Infused Honey
There are many ways to use infused honey to improve the flavor of food. You can use infused honey to drizzle toasts or your fruit and nuts snack. You can add infused honey to hot drinks like tea, coffee, milk as an alternative sweetener instead of sugar. You can use it for making sweets, pastries, and other snacks and desserts. You can also use infused honey in making sauces (honey mustard), dipping (hummus), and salad dressing (honey-lemon and balsamic honey salad dressing). Just make sure you are using infused honey that pairs well with the flavor. Use infused honey to baste vegetables and meat. If you want your grilled or roasted food to have a crispy coating and golden crust, use orange-infused honey.
Keep in a jar or container that seals tightly, and store in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight. There is no need for honey for refrigeration since room temperature does not have any adverse effect on its quality and condition.
Make your own herb-infused honey:
Plain honey is already a delicious food. Making herb-infused honey allows for a diverse flavor that makes cooking and eating more enjoyable. This way, we get to enjoy both the aroma and taste of herbs and honey while at the same time improving our physical condition as a result of the health benefits from consuming herbs and honey.
This recipe yields three glass jars full of infused honey
600 g honey
2 tablespoon dried elderflower
2 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoon dried sage
Step 1: Distribute the herbs among the three glass jars evenly.
Step 2: Fill the glass jar with honey. Use raw, unprocessed, light brown honey with mild flavor so as not to drown the flavor of the herbs.
Step 3: Seal the glass jar. Do not open for at least 3 to 7 days to attain optimal infused flavor.
4.Store the herb-infused honey in a cool, dark place.