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It’s honey from the kitchen

Gates shares memories of making sweet treat without bees

August 7, 2015
By JOLENE STEVENS - Farm News staff writer , Farm News

NASHUA - Andrea Gates' fondest memories are of accompanying her mother, Dorothy Gates, into a pasture for clover and driving along the roadside looking for wild roses.

Gates, a former floral designer in Sioux City now living on her family's farm near Nashua, said the reason for the traditional summer jaunts was to find clover and roses to turn into a beeless honey.

Article Photos

-Photo courtesy of Mother Earth News
BEELESS HONEY, according to Andrea

"Our intentions were by no means to displace the need for the honey bee," Gates said. "It was rather to enjoy as mother and daughter doing something together and at the same time having a unique food gift to occasionally give to family and friends." But she added that Mother Nature had a key role in the success of beeless honey-making.

"Weather has been, and continues to be, a major factor in the availability of clover, along with farm pesticides and herbicides," Gates said.

To make the beeless honey, Gates said clover and roses must be available at the same time, which didn't happen this year.

Fact Box

Honey in the medicine cabinet

Try these effective ways to use honey to heal everyday ailments.

  • Allergies: Just a teaspoon a day of raw, local honey can decrease symptoms or prevent them altogether. For best results, start this regimen a month before your symptoms typically start to appear.
  • Arthritis: It may be the alkalinizing effect of a mixture of honey and vinegar that seems to relieve the pain and inflammation of arthritis when used over a period of time. This mix is anti-inflammatory, used internally or externally.
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye): Combine equal parts warm water and honey; stir to mix well. Allow the mix to cool, then apply as an eye wash. Be aware that honey can sting a bit.
  • Cough: Mix equal parts vinegar and honey, and add a twist of lemon. Drink a bit of this mixture every two to three hours.
  • Cuts: A dab of honey underneath a bandage may serve you better than any antibiotic cream on the market.
  • Diabetic sores: Honey is one of the only treatments that can help an unresponsive diabetic wound. Apply directly to the sore and cover with light gauze.
  • Diaper rash: No matter how bad the rash, honey was always the best remedy for my kids. Just a thin coating and a bit of naked time and it healed up like magic.
  • Diarrhea: Because it has a balancing effect on digestion, honey is useful for relieving both diarrhea and constipation.
  • Immune support: Routine eating of raw honey increases B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes, two types of white blood cells that improve immunity.
  • Insomnia: A spoonful of honey before bed can help support a peaceful night's rest.
  • Leg cramps: A mix of honey and vinegar rubbed onto the legs before bed increases circulation and can help prevent leg cramps.
  • Minor burns: Spread honey liberally over the damaged skin of a burn and leave it open to the air. It's best not to apply anything more than a very light gauze.
  • Nasal congestion: Add honey to a steam or simply spread it over the sinus areas on the face. Sinus congestion will drain quickly - be ready.
  • Sinusitis: Add a teaspoon to a cup of saline water and use it in a neti pot. Never use a neti pot while you are congested.
  • Sore throat: Let a spoonful of honey melt in your mouth or drink it in a cup of hot tea for fast relief from an itching and scratching throat.
  • Stomach ulcer: Honey inhibits H. pylori, the culprit behind most ulcers; eat 2 to 3 ounces a day for three months.

Wild roses grew in ditches a month earlier than usual, ahead of the clover, she said.

The beeless honey recipe has been with her family for a long time.

"It's been probably at least 50 years ago that my mother was given the recipe by a neighbor of ours, Grace Good," Gates said. "Grace, according to the story I was to learn later, entered the honey in the Big 4 Fair here in Nashua."

The honey won first place in the bee honey category.

Two years later, Good confessed her deception to fair judges and returned the $1 prize, according to Gates.

Not surprisingly, Gates and her neighbor, Mary Jean Parks, Good's daughter, continue to enjoy sharing the tale and preparing homemade honey.

Although Gates' recipe will have to wait until next spring when the season's wild roses return, she recommends those interested give it a try.

"It's not only fun to make," she said, "and great not only for toast or muffins, but on ice cream when it caramelizes."

Honey-makers should be not discouraged that the beeless honey looks like wet silage prior to straining, she said.

"Once strained, it's pure gold honey," Gates said, "and tastes like the real thing - so good you'd think the bees made it."

Homemade beeless honey

45 red clover blossoms

45 white clover blossoms, or maybe a few more since they are smaller

25 wild rose petals

1 teaspoon of alum

10 cups of sugar

2 cups of water

Snip blossoms, removing all green parts

Cook three minutes, making sure sugar has dissolved

Strain and pour into jars

Makes seven to eight half pint jars per batch.



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