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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Honey (buzz, buzz)


One of my favorite healing and nourishing additives is honey. I love honey. Dark honey, light honey, clover honey, Vancouver Island Honey, Peace River Honey, Australian honeys, honey comb, honey capping's, my Scottish Heather honey I brought back from a trip to Scotland, I could go on for ages. I've never met a honey I didn't like.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock contributor, Sergey Peterman 
Why do I like it so much? The first reason is it is a culinary treat. To me, no honey tastes the same but they are all sweet and do lovely things to my palate. I prefer unpasteurized raw honeys but creamed honey with almond essence is really  amazing. Here is an unsolicited product plug: If you live near Vancouver Island you really need to try Van Isle Aperies Almond Flavored Creamed Honey! Um, yum.
The next reason is that the nutritive value in this sugar source is substantial when compared to other sugars. Unpasteurized honey is a rich array of complex sugars, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and even has antioxidant properties. I was recently given a full comb of mature capped honey from a retired beekeeper who is now a very good friend. My boys love to chew the wax and honey even though they KNOW bugs crawled all over it and jokingly tease each other about their love of bee puke (their words not mine). What other food in the world can boast these wonderful properties and be entirely manufactured by bugs (my favorite bee--the honey bee). If you want to know the exact list of nutrients in honey here is a Wiki Link you might enjoy- Honey . Of course remember, the nutrients vary with the diet of the bees who produce it.
I also use honey in lip balms, lotions and facial treatments. The natural aroma can be intensified by the addition of essential oils such as patchouli or vanilla.  Honey all on it's own has this amazing meadow in bloom smell that has to be my favorite all time scent. At the top of my favorite running trail I catch a whiff of the scent of my bees. My husband can't detect it and I think he thinks I'm a little nuts when I remark on the amazing perfume in the air. My hives reek of it and I love working with the bees and enjoying their essence.

I even use honey for first aid treatments. It's soothing but can sometimes sting at first, on a cut or scrape but it seems to me that the wounds heal and pain disappears faster than when left untreated. In medieval times it was part of many healers potions and salves. Use only raw honey. The reason why? It works.
Now for the recipes...
This first one is a teaser from the next edition my book Beauty Crafts...

Honey Bee Lip Balm

2 Tablespoons Virgin Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons natural Beeswax Beads
1 teaspoon Almond Oil
1/2 teaspoon Castor Oil
1 teaspoon of your favorite honey
Melt beeswax in a double boiler. Remove from heat. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Keep stirring vigorously as it cools or the honey will pool on the bottom. You can use a ice water bath on the outside of the double boiler to speed up the process.  Pot into small jars with tight seals. This will melt on hot days so store in a cool place in an upright position.
**Use cookware and utensils that are disposable as this mixture is very difficult to clean. A tin can works well as a double boiler and a fork works well as a whisk.
This next recipe was a custom order I used to consign at Babes Honey Farm years ago. Babe told me once that she loved it so much that she kept most of the bars for herself! Here is the recipe if you would like to try this wonderful soap...

Babes Raspberry Honey Bars

1 lb Honey Melt and Pour Soap
1  two week cured and pH tested recipe raspberry Palm Blend Soap from Scratch
(recipe follows)
Spritz the raspberry scented Palm Blend Soap with vodka or other high grade alcohol. Pour melted honey soap over the raspberry layer. Allow to cool and harden at room temperature. Carefully slice into bars. If they separate while cutting, 'glue' them back together with water and allow them to dry undisturbed for several hours.
This recipe is from Beauty Crafts...

Raspberry Palm Blend

150 grams coconut oil
150 grams olive oil
150 grams palm oil
169 ml water
65 g. sodium hydroxide.
Follow the directions for making cold process soap...

Assemble your tools:
Deep stainless steel cooking pot 10 litres or more
Rubber gloves
1 gallon ice cream bucket
2 Plastic stirring spoons
Hand Mixer (a.k.a. stick blender)
A good kitchen scale (one that measures in standard & metric as the recipes differ & also the results will differ widely)
Plastic soap mold (square plastic food storage containers work well--use a casserole or deep large size)
Lemon juice or vinegar—first aid precaution in case skin comes in contact with lye. If you feel an itch or burn anywhere splash the skin liberally with lemon juice or vinegar to counteract the basic nature of the lye. Rinse well with water.

Assemble ingredients:
Oils /fat/butters
Distilled water
Sodium hydroxide (lye) (look in the cleaning supplies or plumbing supply aisle in your local grocery store.)
Fillers Fragrance/essential oils

Put on safety gear:
Goggles or glasses
Rubber gloves
Long shirt sleeves or smock (lab coat works very well)
Long pants Shoes
Socks (Don’t laugh, I got burned by not wearing socks!)

Carefully volume measure your water and pour into small plastic bowl. Using the scale measure the sodium hydroxide. In a well-ventilated area (such as outside), carefully add the sodium hydroxide, a little at a time. Stir after each addition. Stir until  all crystals are dissolved. Be sure to avert your face to avoid inhaling fumes. The fumes can burn the lungs and cause damage to tissue they come in contact with. Wear a mask if you are unable to avoid inhalation of the steam from the lye-water reaction. The mixture will become very hot. Cover and allow mixture to cool in a safe place away from pets or children.

Weigh your oils and melt on the stove over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Both the lye and the oil mixtures should be approximately the same temperature when combining.
Pour sodium hydroxide mixture (still quite hot) a small amount at a time, into the melted oils (hot).  Add 1 teaspoon of Red Soap Tint and 15 ml raspberry fragrance oil.
Using a hand blender (goggles on please boys and girls) blend until emulsified. Once it thickens to a pudding consistency pour into a plastic mold (for square bars the size of a loaf pan). Make sure your mold is deep enough (4-5 inches at least) because you will be adding more soap later.
Cover and wrap carefully in towels to insulate the soap. After 24 hours, check the soap. It should be firm enough to remove from the mold. Uncover the mold and allow it to air dry and cure for 1-2 weeks. Check for safety of use (pH 7-10). Use litmus paper and dip it into the bubbles for your reading.