December 5th, 2016

Bee Thankful For Easy Homemade Gifts

infusedhoney-2Every year, usually sometime in the summer, I resolve to make a huge list of homemade gifts to make during the holidays. Then, inevitably, Thanksgiving bowls me over and next thing I know it’s the weekend before Christmas. Now what? Last minute Target runs and Amazon shipments (thank goodness for Prime).

This year I stumbled upon an idea that may be the easiest homemade foodie gift ever: infused honey. There is no cooking required, you can make it as simple or fancy as you like and it doesn’t take a long time. Perfect for the person with no time or the procrastinator in all of us.

The ingredient list and equipment required are super simple. All you need is honey, dried herbs or spices, jars and a strainer. There is very little time needed to prepare, but you will need about five days to allow the flavors to infuse into the honey. It may not be super last minute, but as long as you have about a week before you plan on gifting it you should be good to go!

Infused honey is almost like a blank canvas. The possibilities are practically endless.

infusedhoney-6Start with a light, mild honey; it will pick up the flavor best. I recommend using a local raw honey as well. Local honeys may combat seasonal allergies. Plus it’s a good thing to support your local beekeepers.

You can use just about any herb and spice combination you can think of, so let your imagination run wild. Tailor your infusions to the friends and family you are gifting them to. If your mom can’t survive without that cup of joe in the morning, make a dark roast coffee infusion for her. Your bestie loves spicy Thai take out? Make a dried Thai chili pepper infusion. Or use this as an opportunity to show off your green thumb by using dried herb clippings from your garden.

Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:

Vanilla Cardamom – vanilla bean, cardamom pods
Orange Vanilla – dried orange zest, vanilla bean
Spiced – star anise, cinnamon stick, whole cloves
Lemon Rosemary – dried lemon zest, rosemary
Lavender Vanilla – lavender buds, vanilla bean

And don’t forget to offer suggestions or recipes for how to use the honey, in case the flavor thing throws your family and friends off. These infusions make great additions to salad dressings and marinades, drizzled over cheeses or into oatmeal, spread onto peanut butter toast or stirred into a simple cup of tea. You could also throw in a special ingredient or utensil to encourage them to make the suggested recipe.

Your loved ones will be impressed, trust me! It seems complicated and time consuming, but you don’t have to tell them it wasn’t. It’ll be our secret.

Infused Honey
This is a rough guide to infuse about a cup of honey. If infusing more honey, add more spices or herbs relative to the amount of honey. You can also lighten up the flavoring depending on taste, for example, if you are making a chili infused honey for someone who only likes a little heat, add less chili than for someone who loves heat.

infusedhoney-11 cup honey
1-2 tablespoons dried herbs or spices, or whole dried ingredient (chili, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean)

Add herbs and/or spices to the bottom of a jar, then pour in honey. Stir to fully coat the herbs and disperse throughout the honey. Cover the jar tightly.

Allow the honey to infuse for about five days. Check it every day to ensure the herbs are not floating to the top or bottom, you’ll want to shake or stir it up to keep them dispersed throughout the honey. For a more intense infusion, allow to sit longer.

When done, strain the honey into a clean jar. If portioning out into smaller bottles for gifts, divide the honey out into smaller jars. Ensure the lids are tight and labels are applied to jars. There is no expiration date, so they can be stored indefinitely.

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Posted in Dear Diary