As beekeepers and honey lovers, my family and I are always looking for ways to use honey in our kitchen. We bake with it, cook with it, and eat it by the spoonful. Lately, we’ve also discovered a whole menu of beverages that can be made with honey, and we’re loving the results.
Using honey in homemade beverages allows you to satisfy your thirst for sweeter drinks while also cutting back on added sugar. Because honey is sweeter by the ounce than white sugar, you can use less honey than you would sugar in almost any recipe. The silky texture of honey also makes for a smooth drink – one that tingles the taste buds and feels great going down.
Best of all, each time you consume a drink made with honey, you can get a little boost from honey’s many health benefits. Honey contains natural antioxidants, which may help combat certain health issues, including heart disease, strokes, and some types of cancer. Honey is also great for soothing sore throats, and may help relieve certain cold and allergy symptoms. Look for raw (and locally sourced!) honey to use in your foods and beverages, as pasteurization tends to degrade some of the antioxidants, as well as destroy honey’s naturally occurring yeast.
Many drink recipes that use honey include other beneficial ingredients as well – such as cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and mint – so you’re often getting an extra boost of goodness in your cup. (That being said, keep in mind that honey is still a sugar, so don’t overindulge.)
From cool and refreshing iced drinks to warm and comforting beverages that come in a mug, honey can be enjoyed at any time of year. After all, how many things taste just as good on a summer day when you come in from the garden as they do on a winter day after loading the woodstove? Honey’s versatility makes it a must-have ingredient in any beverage lineup. Here are some of our favorite year-round recipes.
Honey Ginger Switchel Recipe
Switchel is a traditional apple cider vinegar drink that’s been around for hundreds of years. It’s sometimes called “haymaker’s punch,” because farmers would drink it to rehydrate while harvesting hay or otherwise working in the heat.
In addition to honey’s health benefits, this switchel recipe also provides a dose of apple cider vinegar, as well as fresh ginger. (If you aren’t in the habit of drinking apple cider vinegar, your taste buds may need time to adjust to this tangy drink.) A variety of switchel recipes are available in traditional cookbooks and online. We adapted our recipe from a couple of different sources, and you can tinker with it to find the flavor you love.
Yield: 1 glass.
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup water
- Combine apple cider vinegar, honey, ginger, and water in a Mason jar or other container with a lid. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours. (Taste your switchel periodically to see how the flavor evolves.)
- Shake switchel in jar to mix, and then pour through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out ginger. Serve over ice, mixing with seltzer, if desired. Switchel will keep refrigerated for about 3 days.
Honey Lemonade Recipe
Summer’s sweetest elixir is often made with gobs of sugar, but I prefer a less-sweet mix. Consider substituting honey for sugar – using half the amount – in almost any lemonade recipe. For endless variations, add herbs or berries when making the simple syrup.
Our favorite recipe is a honey mint lemonade that’s perfect for when fresh mint is bursting onto the scene in early summer, or having a second life in September. You can also use strawberry-infused water to make a strawberry honey lemonade when strawberries are in season. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is delicious, but store-bought juice works well too.
Yield: 1 pitcher.
- 1/4 cup honey
- About 5 cups water, divided
- 1 cup lemon juice
- Mint leaves (optional)
- Make simple syrup by combining honey and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a low simmer to melt honey. Gently whisk to combine, and then remove saucepan from heat.
- Add lemon juice to simple syrup. Pour mixture into a pitcher, and add 4 cups water. (You can use more or less water, depending on how strong you like your lemonade.)
- Pour into ice-filled glasses, and garnish with mint leaves, if desired.
Honey Soda Recipe
Honey is a great natural ingredient in homemade soda. Whether you simply add honey to carbonated water or seltzer, or get into full-fledged fermentation, homemade soda is much healthier than store-bought versions. We enjoy a homemade honey soda recipe that uses baking soda and citric acid to spur carbonation. It’s not quite the same as fermenting your own soda, but it’ll take your soda-making up a notch from seltzer, and it’s a cool experiment for kids!
For this recipe, mix everything but the baking soda in a recycled plastic soda bottle. Don’t use glass until you’re familiar with the process. (The pressure in this recipe is mild, but the wrong amounts of citric acid and baking soda can result in too much pressure, potentially causing a glass bottle to explode.) Then, add the baking soda and quickly cover the bottle. You’ll be able to see the chemical reaction happen right away. After the bottle sits for a few hours, you’ll have a lightly carbonated, honey-sweetened soda that quenches thirst perfectly. You can add lemon juice, mint, lime juice, or other ingredients to change the flavor.
Yield: 1 glass.
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
- Mint leaves (optional)
- Dash of lemon or lime juice (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Mix together water, honey, and citric acid. Pour liquid into a clean plastic soda bottle, and add mint leaves and lemon or lime juice, if desired.
- Using a funnel, quickly pour in baking soda, and immediately screw on bottle cap. Bubbles will begin to form. Let soda sit for 3 to 12 hours.
- Refrigerate before drinking.
Honey Margarita Recipe
(With or Without Alcohol)
While many cocktail recipes call for simple syrup, honey in its liquid form can be a substitute. Once we discovered this easy substitution, we started using honey as the sweetener in mojitos too. We find that honey helps cut down on the overly sweet taste of these traditionally sugar-laden cocktails. It leads to a more refined flavor that we particularly enjoy after a long day of working in the garden! Our Honey Margarita recipe can also be made without alcohol – just leave out the tequila, swap the orange liqueur for orange juice, and add more seltzer.
Yield: 1 glass.
- 1 ounce tequila
- 1 ounce orange liqueur or orange juice
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons honey
- Splash of seltzer water
- Lime slice, for garnish
- Add tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and honey to a cocktail shaker, and shake to combine. For the alcohol-free version, blend orange juice, lime juice, and honey. (Do this before adding the ice, so the honey disperses evenly throughout the mixture and doesn’t harden from the cold temperature.)
- Once blended, add ice to the shaker, and shake again. Pour into a glass. Add splash of seltzer water, and garnish with lime slice.
Honey Golden Milk Recipe
Honey is a natural addition to tea, and one of our absolute favorite tea variations is golden milk – a beautiful combination of warm milk, health-boosting spices, and honey. Golden milk contains antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory properties, and it can be made with almost any type of milk, from dairy milk to almond or rice milk. (You can also use coconut milk, although it’s best used in limited quantities and mixed with another type of milk.) Golden milk tastes like a thick, smooth chai tea. It’s the perfect beverage for a cool fall or winter day.
Yield: 2 glasses.
- 3 cups unsweetened milk of choice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, or 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick, or 1/4 teaspoon
- ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Add all ingredients to a small saucepan, and whisk to combine. Warm over medium heat until hot but not boiling, stirring frequently. Simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes to infuse cinnamon and ginger.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve if using fresh ginger. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat gently before drinking.
Carrie Williams Howe is a part-time homesteader in Vermont, and owner of The Happy Hive LLC. Carrie and her family have been beekeeping for nearly 10 years, and they sell both honey and beeswax products. Carrie is also the founder of Homestead How-To, a blog offering DIY resources for the self-reliant crowd.
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