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Flavorings for Homemade Cream Honey

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sure, cream honey is delicious “as is”, but if you’re already putting in the effort, why not split the batch and add some flavors?

If you’ve never heard of or made cream honey, then revert back to my recent post on Making Cream Honey, then come back here and learn how to kick it up a notch!

The following provides an overview of popular flavorings and additives for cream honey, as well as recommended amounts and online sources for purchasing these ingredients.

Freeze Dried Fruit

Photo from Nuts.com - their website offers a variety of dried, powdered organic fruits.

Nuts.com offers a variety of dried, powdered organic fruits that make great additions to cream honey. (Photo from Nuts.com)

Powdered freeze dried fruit mixes well with cream honey to add a whole new dimension of flavor.  A little goes a long way, so start with a very small amount and add as you go.  In fact, that’s good advice when adding any kind of flavor additive – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out once it’s been added.

  • Suggested Ratio: Start with 1/2 tsp per pound and go from there.  Better to add less than you think you’ll need since powdered freeze dried fruit will absorb moisture and expand, resulting in a harder product that may be difficult to spread. Use honey that has an 18% moisture content.  Higher moisture content will allow for some absorption while still producing a balanced and spreadable product.
  • Suggested Flavorings: Taste your honey and think about compatible flavors.  Darker, heavier flavored honeys might work better with darker, richer fruits, like cherries or blackberries.  Lighter, fruitier honeys might go well with brighter flavored fruits like mango, apricot, or raspberries.
  • Sources:

Flavor Oils

Lorann Oils offers a wide variety of quality flavor oils that work great in cream honey.  Shown are three of my favorites.

Flavor oils can be very strong, and some are stronger than others, so only a very small amount may be needed.  Remember, you can always add flavor, but you can’t take it out.

  • Suggested Ratio: I use about 1/4 tsp per 1 pound of honey.  However, start with 1/8 tsp, taste, and repeat until you’ve achieved a flavor level that you’re happy with.  For very strong flavors, consider using a dropper to test even smaller amounts.
  • Suggested Flavorings: All honey tastes different, so use flavors that are compatible with your honey.  Some of my favorites include:  Vanilla Nut, Blackberry, Cinnamon Roll, and Orange Cream.  Consider using food grade essential oils, like lavender, orange, geranium, or chile oil.

Stir a drop of flavoring with a tbsp. of honey to test new flavors and combinations.

  • Sources:
  • LorAnn Oils. I get all of my flavor oils from LorAnn Oils because they are top quality, food grade.  Even their essential oils are food grade.  They also have a huge selection of flavors.  Let them know you’re a beekeeper, and the folks at LorAnn Oils will provide a code to access their wholesale prices.

Ground Nuts or Nut Meal

Photo from Pecans.com - A quality online source for pecan products, including pecan meal.

Pecans.com is a quality online source for pecan products, including pecan meal.  (Photo from Pecans.com)

Nuts used for cream honey are typically ground into a meal, then mixed into the honey for even flavor and distribution.  Then some larger pieces may be mixed in for aesthetics and added crunch.  Keep in mind, this will be spread on toast or pancakes, so keep the larger pieces to a medium chop – not too fine, but not too course.

  • Suggested Ratio: Start with 1 oz. of nut meal + 1 oz nut pieces per 1 pound of honey.  Adjust as you go.
  • Suggested Nuts: Pecans are the most popular; however, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews or pistachios might also make good additions.  Again, match the nut flavor to the honey flavor.

If making your own meal, then enhance the flavor by toasting the nuts in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes (watch them closely!).

Bring toasted nuts to room temperature before grinding, and be careful not to make nut butter.

  • Sources: Most honey professionals leave the nut grinding to the nut professionals.  It might be a good idea to start with purchased nut meal.  Nut meal can be ordered online from any of the following sources:

Ground Spices

Penzey's has top quality spices and a HUGE selection. (Photo from Penzeys.com)

Penzey’s has top quality spices and a HUGE selection. (Photo from Penzeys.com)

Dried, ground spices can be delicious in cream honey.  Imagine stirring cinnamon cream honey into your morning oatmeal.  Yum!

  • Suggested Ratio: Again, start very slowly when adding dried spices – maybe a pinch per pound to start, then taste and adjust from there.
  • Suggested Spices: Again, compatibility is key.  Don’t use overpowering spices in a light floral honey.  Try a very small amount of spice in a small amount of honey and taste before plunging it into the full batch.

Use only fresh, high quality spices.  Honey is too precious to skimp!

Great additions might include ginger, dried chilies, ground cinnamon, ground powdered vanilla, mint, allspice, anise…or a carefully crafted blend.

  • Sources:
    • Penzeys – Trusted name in spices and awesome selection!  I’m a huge fan.

Some final notes:

  • Consider combining flavors, like vanilla pecan, or dried peach w/ cinnamon.
  • If you add too much of any flavor type, just add more honey to balance it out.
  • When selling cream honey products, remember to include ALL ingredients on the labels, and consider adding an allergen warning if nuts are added.
  • Properly processed cream honey can be stored at room temperature. However, it will break down at higher temperatures.  Especially on hot days, consider keeping it in a cooler location (i.e. basement or pantry).
  • If you have plain cream honey on hand, you can add flavoring by simply whipping it with a blender and adding your flavors.  Store the cream honey in a cool (ideally 58 degree) location to allow it to reset.
  • Take copious notes and write down your recipes!  Note what works, what doesn’t work, additives to honey ratios, and the processes used to make the cream honey recipes.  That way every batch will be perfect and consistent.

I hope this info gets you excited enough to experiment with making your own cream honey!  It’s delicious, a fun science project to make with kids, and a unique homemade gift for friends and family.

Thanks for visiting, and do share your recipes and pics!

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Making Cream Honey (not just for beekeepers!)

Wednesday, January 31, 2017

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What IS cream honey? 

Oh my, if you’re a beekeeper or a simply a honey lover, then you must learn how to make cream honey.  It makes a delicious and unique gift for friends, family, co-workers, teachers, mailpersons…even kids!  And if you’re looking for a good way to use up the hard, crystalized honey that’s been sitting in your basement for the past three years, then look no further – cream honey is the answer.

How it works…

Honey never goes bad, but it does crystalize.  The crystals are very granular – the size and texture of granulated sugar or fine sand.  As the crystals grow throughout the honey, they maintain this granular size, resulting in a thick, rough, clumpy consistency that’s better dissolved in hot liquids than spread on toast or pancakes.

Now, imagine if you could dramatically reduce the size of the crystals so that, as they grow throughout the honey, they create a creamy, smooth, spreadable product that’s fantastic on toast or pancakes.  That’s cream honey!  Wait, it gets better!  Imagine a smooth spreadable honey that’s flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, dried fruits, toasted pecans, or any flavorings you like.  Exciting, right?

What’s more, cream honey is simple to make once you know the process.  So now that you know what it is, let’s make some cream honey!

Plain Cream Honey

Ingredients

9 parts regular pure raw honey

1 part plain, pure raw cream honey (either purchased or homemade)

  1. Measure out the honey.

Use a food scale to measure out 9 parts of regular honey and 1 part cream (or seed) honey by weight.  You want 90% liquid honey, and 10% cream honey (no more than 10%, and no less – any more and you’re wasting good honey).

Example: 16 oz.  honey à 16 x .10 (10%) = 1.6 oz. cream/seed honey

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Seed Honey:  The 10% cream honey is called “seed” honey, which acts as a starter for creating a larger batch of cream honey.  With that said, always set aside a jar of plain cream honey from each batch to use as a starter for future batches, or if you’re just starting out, use purchased cream honey (raw, pure).

  1. Liquefy the regular honey (no crystals).  (9 parts only, do not liquefy the cream honey)

To liquefy the crystalized honey, simply place the honey in a pot over low heat and gradually warm it, stirring constantly until all crystals are eliminated.  DO NOT HEAT TO OVER 120 DEGREES, or you risk cooking out all of the honey’s beneficial properties.

I bring the honey to temperature, then pull it off the stove and stir and stir.  When it begins to cool, I put it back on the stove, bring it to temperature again, pull it off the stove and stir again.  I repeat this process until the honey is fully liquefied, or clear and liquid in appearance.  Might take about 15 or 20 minutes.

Note:  Crystalized honey works well for making cream honey because it will re-crystalize faster and better than uncrystalized honey. If your regular honey is liquid and you’re certain it does not contain crystals, then skip this step and go straight to step 4.  If you’re uncertain whether your honey contains crystals, then follow this step to be safe.  If the honey has been sitting for several months, then there’s a good chance crystals have begun to form but may not be visible yet. 

  1. Cool the liquefied honey to room temperature.

  2. Combine both the liquid and cream honeys in a mixer.

Add both honeys in a mixing bowl.  Use a mixer to whip both honeys thoroughly for 3-5 minutes.  The final mixed honey is very pourable and resembles cake batter, as shown in the photos below.

Mixing Notes: 

  • Several methods can be used to mix the honey.  I like to whip my honey in a mixer.  This method ensures that the honeys are well combined, and it adds air for a lighter colored, creamier final product.  If this doesn’t appeal to you, then simply combine manually until very well incorporated.
  • The seed honey must be thoroughly and evenly incorporated throughout the liquid honey to ensure that the crystals grow evenly throughout the honey.  Do not skimp on this step, especially if mixing by hand.
  • For larger batches (e.g. 5 gallons batch), the honey can be mixed in a dry, sanitized, food grade bucket using a drill with a clean, dry sanitized paint mixer attachment (for food only).

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  1. Optional – Add flavorings and additives.

This is the time to add flavorings, spices, nuts, dried fruit, etc.  Since there’s quite a bit of information to be shared on this topic, I’ll cover additives and flavorings in a separate, follow-up post.

  1. Pour finished cream honey into containers.

Glass, plastic – it doesn’t matter.  When selecting containers, keep in mind that this honey is not pourable once it sets, so pour into final containers.  For example, if giving as gifts, then pour the honey into the containers that will be gifted.  Transferring the finished cream honey between containers will be a ridiculous mess.

7.  Optional – Remove the bubble layer from the surface.

Whipped honey contains lots of air, so as the honey sits for 12-24 hours at room temperature, the bubbles travel up to the surface, as shown in the photo below.

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This layer can be scraped off, or overlay a piece of plastic wrap and smooth out the bubble surface.  Since the purpose of this step is purely aesthetic, feel free to skip it.  The bubbles won’t affect the taste or quality of the cream honey.

8. Set the honey in cool location at around 58 degrees for 13 days.

A temperature controlled fridge is ideal, however a regular fridge (top shelf) should work fine, or a cool location in the basement or a cool garage would also work well.  Just test the temps and keep as close to 58 degrees as possible.

13 days is the magic number!  After 13 days, voila, you should have spreadable cream honey.

Below are the jars of cream honey that I made from two pounds (32 oz) of regular honey + 3.2 oz of cream “seed” honey.

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Visit my follow-up post called “Flavorings for Homemade Cream Honey”, and learn how you can add fruit, flavor oils, spices, nuts and more to make your cream honey even more delicious!

Soap Making Obsession

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Lavender Milk Mash (left) made with milk, lavender essential oil and crushed spent grains; Forest Glen Yogurt Soap (right) made with whole milk yogurt.

My latest craze…soap! I am learning all kinds of wonderful ways to make soap. Soaps in the crockpot, cold process soaps, soaps made with milk and yogurt, soaps made with beer and spent grains, and of course soaps made with beeswax and honey!  It’s surprisingly easy to make, and based on the number of recipes, sites and tutorials out there, everyone is doing it!

For beginners, I recommend the hot process method, for two main reasons:

1. You don’t have to be precise, and
2. It’s ready to use straightaway.

The crockpot cooks the soap, pushing it through the gel process and allowing it to soaponify within an hour’s time, so you can start using it immediately.

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Start off with a few basic recipes using inexpensive kitchen oils (like crisco, soy oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, rendered fats like beef tallow – and don’t forget beeswax), some hardware store lye (like Red Devil – I get my from Ace Hardware), and distilled, bottled or rain water.   Don’t use water from the tap since it has different chemical make-ups and can cause inconsistent results.  You can substitute other liquids for the water, like beer, tea, and milk.  These liquids need to be treated differently because they react differently with the lye.  But the options are endless.

You can use the hot process method on virtually any cold process soap recipe.  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be designing all kinds of different soaps, and family members will become your test subjects.  Ha!  No more store bought Coast soap for you dear husband!

Soap making resources are everywhere on the internet, so instead of adding yet another tutorial, I will refer  you to some of my favorite soaping resources so you can begin your own soap making obsession…

GoodEarthSpa Hot Process Soap Step-by-Step (my favorite tutorial for hot process soap)

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More of my favorite tutorials and resources…

GoodEarthSpa Channel on YouTube – Full of detailed tutorials and recipes for all types of soaps, cold, hot, solid, liquid, laundry, and more. Plus, she’s a beekeeper!

SoapQueenTV Channel on YouTube – Tons of wonderful soap making video tutorials and more!

Chickens in the Road – Hot Process Soap Tutorial

Chickens in the Road – How to Make Soap Tutorial

From Nature with Love – My favorite Soapulator (for calculating soap recipes)

The Chemistry Store – favorite supply resource

Amazon – my other favorite supply resource

Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson (99 cent kindle book on Amazon.com – a great starter book and she has other books to help you advance into other areas of soap and lotion making, all 99 cents)

Pinterest – for soap recipes galore!!!

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Happy Soaping!!!

 

Chipotle Honey Roasted Peanuts

For the first time this year we grew 1 peanut plant in the garden.  We let the plant go and virtually forgot about it until the last weekend (first weekend in November).  We pulled the plant to find tons of ready to pick peanuts hanging off the roots.  Of course we were excited, then we wondered what the heck we were supposed to do with them.

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Step 1 – Clean the Raw Peanuts – I put the dirty peanuts in a bucket of hot water and washed and drained them several times to remove the dirt.

Step 2 – Dry the Peanuts – I then placed them on a window screen and put them in the sun to dry out for several hours.

Step 3 – Roast the Raw Peanuts – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  When the oven is preheated, place the peanuts on a baking sheet and pop them in (shells still on).  Roast for 30 minutes – no more, no less – stirring every 10 minutes.  Cool.

Step 4 – Honey Roast the Peanuts – Shell all of your peanuts. Don’t worry about the skins, we left them on and they turned out great.  Recipe is below…

Chipotle Honey Roasted Peanuts

(From AllRecipes.com Makes 1 pound of peanuts


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INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup white sugar1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons butter2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound skinless peanuts

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Stir together the sugar, chipotle powder, chili powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl; set aside.
2. Stir together the butter, honey, and kosher salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted, and the mixture is bubbly. Stir in the peanuts until well coated, then pour out into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
3. Bake in preheated oven until the nuts are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Stir the mixture 2 or 3 times to ensure even cooking. Once done, scrape the peanuts into a large metal bowl, and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Toss the peanuts to evenly coat with the spice mixture. Allow the peanuts to cool to room temperature, tossing every few minutes so the nuts do not stick together.

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Fresh Honey Ginger Ale

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In search of a Ginger Beer recipe, I stumbled upon this easy, delicious, all natural version of ginger ale.  This produces a sweet, refreshing drink with a nice pungent kick of ginger spice.  Although the original recipe calls for granulated sugar, the addition of raw honey would make this a perfect sore throat, cough/cold beverage.  For carbonation, I simply add 50% club soda or seltzer water.

Paula’s Fresh Honey Ginger Ale

  • ¼ Pounds Fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • ¼ Cups Fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 cup honey* (1 cup sugar can be used in place of honey)
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • Seltzer or club soda
  1.  In a 2-5 qt pot, combine all in ingredients (unless using raw honey, see note below).
  2.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  3.  Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and into a pitcher.
  4.  If using raw honey, then stir it into the warm liquid now until dissolved.
  5.  Drink warm as a cold and sore throat soother, or chill and serve carbonated with selzter water for a refreshing drink.  This is a strong sweet mixture, so I add about 50% seltzer.  Adjust to suit your taste.

Click here to view my complete SnapGuide tutorial.

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The Ginger Beer Concept

I still haven’t given up on the idea of turning this into an actual ginger beer.  Multiply the recipe to equate to a 5 gallon batch.  I’d add more water for a dryer beer.  Add to a sanitized carboy, pitch an ale or champaign yeast, add an air lock, wrap with a towel and keep in a cool dry place for 2-3 weeks.  Not yet proven, but in theory it sounds good!  I’ll post the results when we actually get around to trying it.