Lavender and California poppy are in full bloom in my garden and ready to harvest. One thing I love about early summer is a chance to preserve some of these delicious medicinal herbs by infusing them in honey.
Both of these plants have relaxation properties, which makes this a calming honey. I especially enjoy adding it to my evening lemon balm tea.
Honey is much more than a sweet treat: it is a powerful wild food containing many medicinal properties. Pharmacognosy Research states that the ingredients in honey have antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferation, anticancer and antimetastatic effects. The evidence suggests that honey can be used to control and treat wounds, diabetes, cancer, asthma, cardiovascular, neurological and gastrointestinal diseases. Honey is truly a miracle food!
Infusing honey with medicinal herbs offers a powerful yet safe way to support the body. According to Mother Earth Living, honey is hydrophilic and has the ability to pull out the water and nutrients from the plants. This creates a delicious and potent herbal medicine.
Many herb-infused honey recipes recommend heating the honey. I don’t recommend this, as it will kill the enzymes and antioxidants naturally present in the raw unfiltered honey. Bee hives maintain a temperature of 100 degrees. It is important to keep your honey at or below 100 degrees to maintain its optimal nutrient value. Also note that raw honey can thicken at cooler temperatures. If this happens, warm your honey jar in a pan of hot water. Avoid warming your honey on high heat, as this will decrease the medicinal benefits.
Lavender has been used medicinally for centuries. According to the Medical Medium Blog, lavender is a sedative, diuretic, carminative, antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory herb. Lavender is most known for its aromatherapy properties, which promote a sense of calm and wellness. Healthline states that lavender is recommended for sleep issues and also treats headaches and nervousness. Lavender is a great natural disinfectant and insecticide that is safe to use around pets and children. You might also be interested in reading my DIY Lavender Herbal Disinfectant for an additional way to use lavender flowers.
California poppy is a medicinal herb rich in vitamins A, C and E plus the minerals calcium and magnesium. According to the Medical Medium Blog it has sedative properties, is a natural pain reliever, and it sharpens both memory and concentration. California poppy contains antimicrobial properties and can be applied to skin ailments to promote healing. I take a non-alcoholic tincture of California poppy daily as part of my supplement routine. It helps both my sleep and reduces my joint pain. Unlike its distant cousin the opium poppy, California poppy contains no opiates, is non-addicting and safe, says Flower Essence Society.
Making Infused Honey
I prefer to use fresh herbs in my herbal honeys. Fill your jar ¾ full of a mixture of lavender and California poppy flowers. Unpollinated flowers contain the most medicine. Once the flowers have been pollinated, they will turn brown, so look for lavender flowers that are both open and budding. My Youtube video (below) has more information on how to identify unpollinated California poppy flowers.
Once the jar is packed ¾ full of flowers, add raw honey to the jar. It will take a few hours for the honey to run down through the flowers. Continue adding honey until it has reached the top of the jar. Label your herbal honey with the current date.
Let the flowers process in the honey for about 6 weeks. The honey will be pulling out the nutrients from the flowers and preserving the plant medicine in the honey. After 6 weeks, use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the flowers from the honey. I typically let the honey strain overnight. Pour your Lavender California Poppy Honey into a jar, and it’s ready to use! In addition to adding it to my evening tea, I add a few teaspoon to my lemon water or pour some over a bowl of fruit for a sweet treat!
If you are interested in making other herbal honeys, you may enjoy Making Elderflower Honey: A Delicious Way to Support Your Immune System or How to Make Hawthorn Honey: Stress Relief & Immune Support.