Honey is antimicrobial and antibacterial – a total rock star for your immune system. It’s great at soothing itchy/scratchy throats and at lasting indefinitely in your pantry. It’s a staple. And yes, you can ferment it.
Honey has been used as food and medicine around the world for thousands of years. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek scientist, prescribed a simple diet, favouring honey taken as oxymel (vinegar and honey) for pain, hydromel (water and honey) for thirst, and a mixture of honey, water and various herbs for fevers.
The east of Turkey is famous for an old-world mystery; a dark; honey made from the pollen of the opium poppy, known as Deli Bal or “mad honey.” The poppy, or rather opium, was highly valued by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians for its painkilling and sleep-inducing qualities. This nectar is fiery, mouth numbing and lightly hallucinogenic. Yet in Turkey, people consider it a type of medicine – a sleepy treat reserved for those in the know.
- Water (approx. 1 part water to 8 parts honey)
- Raw, unpasteurised honey (the key is to find the minimally processed stuff – ideally with the crystallised crunchy bits of honeycomb still in it)
- Stir a small amount of water into the honey and leave the jar on the kitchen counter, with the lid resting on top but not fastened.
- Give it a good stir every day.
- After two weeks, the honey should start to bubble like a sourdough starter and smell sour. You should be left with a honey that’s sweet and tangy with a thick, whipped marshmallow texture.
- Use it to sweeten your tonics.
Also from Tonic:
Recipes excerpted with permission from Tonic by Tanita de Ruijt, published by Hardie Grant Books January 2018, RRP $19.99 hardcover.