Fermented Honey

Yesterday, I took out our very last jar of honey from the December 2014 harvest. It's been sitting in our cupboard since then, and this particular sample is full of the dregs of the harvest - the bottom of the barrel, literally. It's full of propolis, pollen, and little bits of wax. Over the year, it has separated into two distinct layers. I've been using the other jars of honey, so haven't needed to get in to this one. However I wanted honey on a bagel and so it was time to crack this jar open.

When I opened it, a miasma came up out of the jar - a distinctly boozy odor. My honey had fermented.

You can see the layers, and actually bubbles in the bottom are quite clear.
I used it on my bagel anyway. Pleasantly alcoholic. Probably really good for the gut.

But, no one else in the house will enjoy it, so I've been researching ways to use it up. You can bake it into a sort of cracker, or make a drink a bit like kombucha, but of course the classic way to ferment honey is to make it in to mead. Since my honey has already turned, I figure the mead will be even easier to make, but most of the recipes I found required pounds of honey, and this jar probably has a cup and a half in it.

I finally found a recipe at A Life Unprocessed that uses three cups of honey, so I can supplement with some store-bought honey and together, should make a gallon of wine. This recipe also calls for using a 'ginger bug' which I had been reading about over at Living Homegrown, as that author uses it to make homemade ginger beer, and that sounds yummy. So I decided to mix up a ginger bug.

It's pretty simple - stir together ginger, sugar, and water. You let it sit for 3-5 days. Then you can make your wine.

The finished bug
Grate a tablespoon of ginger, with the peel, and add it with a tablespoon of sugar to a jar. Add two cups of filtered water (apparently chlorine from tap water can inhibit the ferment) and stir. Cover with cheesecloth, rubber band it, and let it sit. Every day, add another tablespoon of ginger and sugar. In 3-5 days, it should be ready.

Luckily our beer brewing equipment can help us with this project. I'll let you know how it goes.

Edit: Forgot to say that raw, unfiltered honey can ferment over time if kept in a warm location. The reason is that since it is unfiltered and untreated, there is a lot of surface area for yeast to grow. If you're going to store honey for a long period of time, it's best to keep it in the fridge and warm it as you need it. I've eaten raw, unfiltered honey from local hives all my life and never knew this!