Frankly, I used to LOVE honey. Not just the taste, but the therapeutic benefits too. Honey in my coffee, honey in my tea. Honey on peanut butter toast, honey on…well..everything. When I went vegan, I didn’t know what to do about it. I imagined that bees weren’t harmed by honey production; how could it? But, I had a nagging feeling. I had to learn more about it before making my decision: vegan or bee-gan? Now, to really understand my internal struggle, you’ll have to know that I NEVER wanted to stop using honey. Not only that, I made natural cosmetics with beeswax too. I loved the smell and how it worked in lotions, soaps, and lip balm.
But then I learned more. Hesitantly. Reluctantly. Begrudgingly. I learned that bees do have the ability to suffer. That they can get inadvertently caught and crushed in the honey extraction process. That they fly for freaking miles to gather the nectar, fan it like mad to dry the nectar/bee-puke into honey, only to get it taken away and replaced by sugar water (um, all that hard work for sugar water??!!). I learned that the Queens’ wings get clipped to prevent them from swarming (starting new colonies), their movement restricted, trapped. They are artificially inseminated which sometimes kills them. Here’s a link that expands further on the reasons not to consume bee products and here is a link to some more info about bees.
Anyway, I went cold-tofurkey on the stuff and slowly found replacements for honey. Lemon water and garlic instead of lemon and honey for sore throats. Carnauba, candellia, and soy wax for my natural cosmetics instead of beeswax. Benzoin resin for the scent. But nothing really good for the actual taste of honey. I resigned myself to a honey-taste-free life. Sad times.
But then, I heard about a product called Honee. I heard wonderful reviews, that it really did taste like honey. Well, it made sense. Some apples did have a taste that was reminiscent of honey to me. Of course I didn’t get my hopes up. Plus, they don’t sell it in Canada. Oh poor Canada.
Well, time went by and one day I had a surplus of apples. Too lazy to make apple pie and too junk-food-spoiled to just eat the darned fruits, I decided to try making my own vegan honey. In my head, it was going to be rather simple. Make juice from the apples, leave some skin for the pectin, boil it down to syrup and add lemon and maybe some sugar. In reality? It WAS that simple!!! Holey cotton socks!!
Did it really taste like honey? It tasted like honey with a touch of apple juice, to be honest. But it was great in tea and on peanut butter toast. I drowned my pancakes in it. Covered every square of my waffles. Drizzled on roasted vegetables. On apple slices. Apple on apple? Oh. Yes. YES.
So, to this day, I still haven’t tried the actual Honee product that has been raved about. I still want to. But in the meantime, I am obsessed with this vegan honey: just apple syrup with lemon juice.
- 8 medium sized apples (Or, shortcut method, use 2 cups of pressed apple juice)
- 1 cup water (not used if using juice shortcut method)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Cut apples into 2" chunks and remove seeds. I found there was no need to peel the apples; the natural pectin in the peel helps to thicken the syrup
- Blend apple pieces with 1 cup water until pureed. It does not need to be smooth; too smooth will make it harder to separate the juice form the pulp..
- Using a strainer, nut milk bag, or cheesecloth, separate the pulp from the juice. I used a cheesecloth draped over a pitcher and secured with an elastic band. Then, I poured the apple puree into the cloth, a little at a time, using a spoon to press all the juice out. You may have to do it in batches if you do it this way, taking away the dry pulp and adding more wet pulp. You'll have an easier time with a nut milk bag. You should have about 2 cups worth of juice at the end.
- In a pot, combine the apple juice, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, then immediately turn down to medium heat. Don't let it boil over!
- Let simmer until liquid is reduced to about half or to desired thickness. To test the thickness, chill a spoon in the freezer, then dip it quickly in the syrup. When the syrup on your spoon has cooled, you can touch/taste it for consistency. This may take 20 minutes or more. Keep your eye on this so it doesn't boil over! Safety first, kids!
- Pour into a heat-safe container and let cool before covering.
- Due to a reader comment (thanks Natalie!), I want to point out that depending on the speed of your blender (and therefore, how fine your blender will process the apples), a metal strainer may not work for separating the juice from the pulp. In that case, go for a even finer sieve material such as a few layers of cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.
- Save time by using two cups of pure pressed apple juice or cider. It works just as well; just make sure there are no additives in the cider or juice.
- Save even more time by using a large saucepan. A larger surface area will allow for quicker evaporation. I have made apple honey in only 15 minutes from start to finish with this method.
Video Tutorial for Vegan Honey