Cherry Blossom Fermented Honey
This fermented honey has a complex flavour that accentuates the floral undertones of the cherry blossoms.
We live in an area where the beginning of spring is marked with flowering cherry trees. These stunning trees line the streets with their billowing, champagne-pink blossoms, and they never cease to evoke a sense of awe and beauty.
In Japan, cherry blossoms—Sakura—are symbolic of a time of renewal. Not only are these blossoms highly regarded for their natural beauty, they are also edible, and used as a food ingredient. Perhaps the most common use is the pickled Sakura.
We decided to use this beautiful blossom in a fermented honey, to capture the tart and floral flavours. For this recipe, the key is to use a raw (unpasteurized) honey, as it contains natural yeast and bacteria.
Honey on its own—despite containing a healthy population of bacteria and yeast—will rarely spoil. The high sugar content, low pH and low water content halts microbial activity. In order to support fermentation in this recipe, we need to dilute the honey slightly with water. This permits the natural yeast found in the honey and on the cherry blossoms to initiate fermentation. For other fermented honey recipes when the water content of the added ingredient is higher, you do not need to dilute the honey. This fermented honey will take 2–3 months for the flavours to develop. You can tell that your honey is fermenting when you see bubbles start to form.
It should be noted that while very rare, Clostridium botulinum (the bacteria responsible for botulism), can be found naturally in honey. Fermenting foods does create an acidic environment that Clostridium botulinum does not like. However, to ensure that your honey can not harbour this pathological bacteria, you can always test the pH with a pH meter. If your honey has a pH less than 4.5, then your honey is safe from Clostridium botulinum.
You can use this fermented honey as a topping on your scone, an addition to your herbal tea, or as a natural sweetener in your cooking. It adds a delicious flavour that differs from regular honey.
Cherry Blossom Fermented Honey
- When you first collect the cherry blossoms, leave them in a paper bag for 12 hours. This allows any critters to crawl out. Don’t wash the flowers, as this will remove the natural yeast and pollen.
- Put the cherry blossoms in a clean, sealable jar.
- Pour the honey over the blossoms.
- Add the filtered water and mix thoroughly.
- Seal the jar and store away from heat and direct sunlight.
- Shake or invert the jar daily to ensure that the blossoms are covered in honey.
- “Burp” the jar every week by opening it to allow any gases to be released.
- After 2–3 months, strain the honey to remove the blossoms. Store in a glass jar and refrigerate.
*** Please note: children under the age of 1 should not consume honey, because it may contain bacterial spores that can cause botulism.
*** If your honey looks or smells funky, trust your instincts and don’t eat it.
Further ideas and modifications
- While this recipe used cherry blossoms, fermented honey can be made with many different plants, so be creative! Other suggestions include lilac flowers, wild roses, and flowering currant blossoms.
- The ratio of honey to water should be 7:1, so you can scale this recipe to suit how much fermented honey you want to make.
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