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.

pancakes with vegan butter and vegan honey

Vegan “honey” on fluffy pancakes.

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!!

apple juice and pulp

Fresh apple juice ready to be made into “honey”!

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.

Vegan Honey | Apple Syrup
Serves 16
An surprisingly easy honey alternative made with apples and lemon. Make this from scratch with fresh apples or take a shortcut with pressed apple juice.
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 medium sized apples (Or, shortcut method, use 2 cups of pressed apple juice)
  2. 1 cup water (not used if using juice shortcut method)
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 tsp lemon juice
To make apple juice, using blender/strainer method (skip to Turning Juice into Syrup if using the shortcut)
  1. 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
  2. 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..
  3. 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.
Turning Juice into Syrup
  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. Pour into a heat-safe container and let cool before covering.
  4. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Mary's Test Kitchen http://www.marystestkitchen.com/
 

Video Tutorial for Vegan Honey

 

Vegan Honey | Apple Syrup Visual Step-by-step Recipe

Prepare apples for juicing: wash, cut, puree.

Prepping apples for juicing: wash, cut, puree.

Pitcher straining juice from apple pulp.

Strain the juice from the pulp.

Apple juice and sugar solution boiling down to syrup.

Heat juice and sugar until rolling boil. Turn down to medium heat to reduce.

vegan apple honey and apples

Pour finished syrup into heat-proof container and let cool.

apples, sugar, and lemon juice. vegan apple syrup in jar.

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Showing 55 comments
  • Vaishali
    Reply

    This looks so delicious. What a great idea and this also seems like it would be far healthier than honey. Your pictures are gorgeous!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thank you! I really appreciate that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rainbow
      Reply

      About how much “honey” does this recipe make?

      • Avott1
        Reply

        Yes, please let us know about how much honey you get from 2 cups of apple juice. Also, have you tried not adding additional sugar?

        • Michelle
          Reply

          So I didn’t exactly measure this out but by eyeballing it it looks to be about 8 ounces. Also, you can’t really remove the sugar from this recipe because this “honey” is actually a simple syrup which can’t be made without sugar. You could try to substitute different types of sugar, though I wouldn’t try date sugar because that doesn’t really melt well in liquid. And if you cook it for even longer than recommended, you could make it taste like maple syrup with just a hint of apples. Hope this helps!

  • Nichole Kraft
    Reply

    Wow! This looks amazing!

    I’ve never cared for honey, even in my pre-vegan days. But my slower-to-transition husband loves it and still uses it. When Honee came out, I thought about trying some, but it seemed rather pricey. So I’m excited to try your recipe instead!

    One question, though. By “pressed apple juice,” do you mean apple cider? Or just plain ol’ apple juice from a bottle?

    Thank you in advance! I can’t wait to give this a whirl. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks, Nicole! I meant apple juice that is only made from apples and nothing else. At least, that is what I used. I am not sure if you’ll get the same flavour from store-bought apple juice or apple cider but you can try. Don’t be afraid to experiment! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • TerrieLynn
    Reply

    Honey bees produce way more honey than they need. That’s where the phrase, “busy as a bee” comes from.
    If you kept your own bees or got your honey from an independent bee keeper (not commercial), the bees would not be mistreated.
    I keep bees. I never take any honey from them except their surplus. If I’m very careful with them, I don’t usually crush any. I never clip the wings or confine my queen. I plant flowers just for them. And I ask their permission to take honey. I have a relationship with them that honors them and supports them.
    Just thought I would offer this to you as food for thought.
    BTW I never buy commercial honey.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi TerriLynn,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Respectfully, I offer this reply.

      While you may personally respect bees as individuals and may be extremely careful and can perfectly care for your bees, I have found that this is not the case for most beekeepers, even independent ones! After speaking with multiple hobbyists and independent beekeepers, it was clear to me that while they tried their best to keep any harm from the bees, there would still be some casualties of their operations; large or small. Especially now that beekeeping is becoming more popular in the growing “homesteading” community. Mistakes are made along the way and bees are the ones that pay for that learning curve.

      Further to that, the honey is not made for us. Bees make it for themselves. They cannot understand if you ask for the honey. Just as you cannot understand if they are freely giving it to you.

      For me, even the tiniest creature should be respected and even if I don’t completely understand them, I tend to err on the side of compassion when it comes to interacting with them.

  • Pam Jones
    Reply

    I’m so happy to find your website. I kept bees for 2 years, and loved 99% of it, but gave it up because I decided I wasn’t psychologically suited to it. I worried way too much. Every time a child walked by my house I imagined the child being stung by one of my bees, going into anaphylactic shock, and dying. Couldn’t handle the (almost totally irrational) thought of that. I will definitely try your honey recipe.

    One question: do you refrigerate it?

    • Mary
      Reply

      I’m glad you found it too! <3 For this bee-free "honey", I do refrigerate it to be on the safe side. It also makes the "honey" thicker which I like on pancakes and on Earth Balance vegan buttered toast.

  • Natalie
    Reply

    It won’t work with a fine mesh strainer alone. I tried it and basically got apple sauce. It worked on the peel but not the pulp. I redid it with a thin cloth over the strainer and finally got juice. I’m not sure if it was my stove but after cooking it for 20 minutes on medium heat, it was still quite liquidy so I upped the temperature. After it had been boiling for 40 minutes I kind of gave up on making it any thicker. It really does taste yummy. Kind of a mix between bee’s honey and apple. First time I’ve made my own apple sauce apple juice and apple honey. It’s great. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mary
      Reply

      I’m glad you got it figured out! ๐Ÿ™‚
      Cooking time can vary depending on where you are in the world with factors like altitude and humidity being different. I find that my cooking habits had to adjust a little bit when I moved from a sea-level city to the mountains.
      Thanks so much for the comment, dearie! I’m so you made the apple honey! <3

  • Jasmine
    Reply

    Could I just make apple juice in my juicer and use it?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yes, Jasmine! You can! Make sure to keep the peels on (at least some of the apples) so that the pectin in the skin will help thicken the syrup when you cook it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Jasmine
        Reply

        Thanks!! Would it be okay if I shared this on my blog? All credit will be given to you, of course. xo

        • Mary
          Reply

          Yes, dear. That would be great! I want the whole world to see how easy it is to have that honey taste without taking from bees. <3 I would love it if you shared the recipe with your readers.

  • Shahrzad
    Reply

    tnx for the recipe Mary! I’m definitely gonna try it.

    Being a Vegan, I’m always searching and going through books and websites to learn more. what I’ve found out recently is pretty shocking. u know what’s not vegan or even vegetarian? SUGAR! that’s right. if you look up how they make sugar from sugar cane and even beet sugar u’de be surprised. to make sugar, the beet sugar or cane sugar go through a lot of processing. Raw sugar contains minerals and vitamins that include phosphorus, iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium.But after processing sugars such as white sugar or brown sugar are stripped of nutrients and can contain additives. but the worst part is Bone Char.Bone Char is basically cow bone. This is from the vegetarian recourse group: “Hundreds of years ago, sugar refiners discovered that bone char from cattle worked well as a whitening filter, and this practice is now the industry standard.Beet sugar is not refined in the same way as cane sugar. Bone char filtering is never used in beet sugar processing.Unfortunately for consumers buying prepackaged, sweetened foods or those eating out, it is difficult to know the source of the white refined sugar that these foods contain.”

    So for those people who didn’t know this fact like myself, u can consider using organic sugars(for this great recipe) or natural sugar replacements for ur daily use. I’ve also found a 1 ingredient recipe to make apple honee that doesn’t include using sugar.

    • Mary
      Reply

      I hope you get to try it, dear.
      On the sugar issue, just so we don’t freak people out: it’s not that sugar itself isn’t vegan. It’s some sugar that isn’t vegan-friendly due to filtering processes. Luckily there are many sugar manufacturers that don’t use bone char.

      The prevalence of bone-char sugar depends on where you live. Many times they don’t put it on the package as it’s just “accidentally” vegan. To tell, you must find out from the company itself by calling or writing them.

      For example, if youโ€™re in western Canada, you may be interested to know that Rogers/Lantic Sugar made in the Vancouver facility is NOT vegan-friendly, but the sugar made in Taber, Alberta IS vegan-friendly. So, doubly lucky for me, the main brand of sugar available near me happens to be vegan friendly. I wrote a little about that on another recipe: http://www.marystestkitchen.com/vegan-cadbury-style-creme-egg-fudge-bites/

    • Kim
      Reply

      Shahrzad, Beet sugar is also a questionable source for sugar, unless you can find it made with organic beets – as it is usually made from GMO crops! So, unless we can find ORGANIC cane or beet sugar that is marked vegan, both types of regular grocery store sugar have their drawbacks. ๐Ÿ™

      By the way, regarding the avoidance of honey, due to veganism, we still have to consider that the apples (and all other crops we consume as vegans) are pollinated by bees. And unless it’s a local “small farm” orchard, you can bet the bees are industrialized as well – meaning the hives are loaded onto flat-bed trucks and shipped in, rented!!! Just found that out on this site when researching the Honee product: https://honeybeesuite.com/what-the-heck-is-vegan-honey/ I never knew all this!

  • Andria
    Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. My family goes through so much fruit honey that we started to make it ourselves using your recipe. We cheat, though. We use organic frozen juices with organic sugar and lemon juice. So far the favorites are lemon and apple.

    • Mary
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Andria. I am so glad you’ve found this recipe so useful. <3 Your idea of using organic frozen juices sounds like a great time saver! Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Alessandra
    Reply

    OMG this is absolutely amazing!! Gonna have to try it asap!!!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yay! I’m sure you will love it. <3

  • Melissa
    Reply

    What kind of apples do you use for this recipe?

    • Mary
      Reply

      I used Gala apples. However, you can use any sweet apples that you like; the flavour will vary slightly. I think this would be especially lovely with honeycrisp or pink lady apples as well. <3 Enjoy!

  • Jennifer
    Reply

    Thank you! I was so excited to try this recipe. It tastes wonderful!! What a great compassionate alternative to honey!

    • Mary
      Reply

      You’re most welcome. I am so glad you tried it and enjoyed it! <3

  • Chris
    Reply

    This looks great, I’m gonna try this!
    But I have to say; The bee’s will thank you for not using there honey! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s shocking to see what bee’s have to go true and then it’s taking away from them for our selfishness, right?! I didn’t know this until a few months ago!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks for your kind words, dear! How lucky we are that when we find out these disturbing details we can act on this new information and make more compassionate choice. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Stephanie
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    thank you for your thoughts on honey and the recipe.
    As a biologist and environmentalist, I say bees are necessary for the pollination of plants. Most of these plants, are plants we consume. However, as a vegan and animal rights person, I totally agree with you. Consequently, I stopped using honey, but I plan to grow bee-friendly (and other-friendly) flowers in my garden for bees (and others). I also think that bee-keeping for giving the bees a habitat/home is ok but without taking away their honey.
    By the way, we have a honey alternative here in Europe made of dandelion. It is called Heeni or Tarasaco and from Alto Adige/South Tyrol in Italy. It does taste exactly like honey. So amazing! However, I don’t think it is available in Canada or the US. ๐Ÿ™
    For example here (no advertisement for the shop. I actually don’t know it at all). http://www.veganlife.be/produkt.php?id=115&lang=EN&sk=B33TO00BDS33URTR00SITXK88WMTXUK33ZWIPOKF66ZDRSMQVM

    All the best from overseas ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Stephanie

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing your insight, dear. I agree that as we humans have mucked things up quite well, it is a good thing to try to help bees and other pollinators. Commercial honeybees have displaced native bee and other insect species in North America and I suspect the case is the same whenever foreign bees are introduced. I’m a huge fan of supportive actions such as planting bee friendly plants and building insect “hotels.”

      I have not tried the product you mentioned but am quite interested. Thanks so much for sharing the link.

      Cheers!
      Mary

  • Serena
    Reply

    Hello! I want to make this now! I just wanted to know, how long does it last?
    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    Serena

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Serena,

      Truth be told, I haven’t tested the upper limits of how long this will last since I eat it up! That said, it is a sugar syrup so it has too much sugar for bacteria to grow in it. This means it should be able to be stored for ages at room temperature as long as you store it in a clean container.

      However, if for some reason the sugar concentration is not strong enough it will start to grow mold over time. If this happens, it will be visible and you can throw it out. I have had a jar in the pantry for just under a month before I used it up and it never grew mold.

      Another alternative is storing it in the fridge. However, that will make the syrup turn a bit like jelly instead of honey.

      I hope that answers your question and that you get to enjoy this apple honey some time ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anna
    Reply

    This looks really simple and interesting to try. I am just not too keen on using all that white sugar in it. Not too healthy if you ask me.. :-\

    • Mary
      Reply

      Fair enough. However, think about how much of this syrup you would use to sweeten drinks or food. A teaspoon? A tablespoon? If you generally have a healthy diet, adding a teaspoon or two of sugar isn’t going to be a problem. This recipe is to give a compassionate alternative to honey, which has a naturally high sugar content as well. I will never claim that apple syrup is a health food but it isn’t bad for healthy individuals in reasonable amounts either.

  • tola
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    Is lemon necessary? Could I skip it? I don’t like that sour taste of lemon in the honee. let me know. Thank you for your blog and youtube videos!

    • Mary
      Reply

      I’ve tried it with and without lemon and I find that it tastes more like honey with the lemon. However, feel free to make this recipe without lemon as it does not affect the consistency at all. Only the flavour will be affect. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much for your kind words and good luck!

  • Eva
    Reply

    Thank you for the recipe. I switched to vegan food about 6 months ago and I love it.
    I was in the same boat. I really liked honey. I figured that bees are not enslaved, they can leave if they choose. I was wrong. I have learned that bee keepers sometimes kill off the queen and part of the workers for some reason I don’t care for. I am against every kind of cruelty to animals. I am about to try your recipe.
    Just wanted to tell you how much I like to meet like-minded people online:)

    Wish you all the best,

    Eva

    • Mary
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Eva. Sometimes it seems like we’re living in another world when we care about insects while most people seem so callous towards them. Thank you for your compassionate heart and your kind words. I hope you enjoy this recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Dana Clary
    Reply

    Do you know if I could can this recipe after I cooked it to the consistency that I want?
    Thanks!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks for your question, Dana. I haven’t tried canning (I have never canned anything) but I’m sure you could with this recipe. It’s mostly sugar and so a good candidate for canning ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope that helps!

  • Esther
    Reply

    please advise you readers that to home can, you must have a certain level of acidity so bacteria for food poisoning doesn’t grow. also low acid foods must be canned at a higher temp. times depend on altitude; sea level v. 5000 ft plus. it is the lemon not the sugar that provides the protection against bacteria. natural honey has enzymes from the bees that prevent spoilage. ok so with that said. I have a question, have you ever used orange instead of lemon for a orange flavored vegan honey? and can I sub white sugar for date sugar? thoughts?
    thank you. love the pictorals!

  • Theresa
    Reply

    Hi!I was just about to order the Bee-Free Honee online but found your recipe instead! I can’t wait to try it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mary
      Reply

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I do ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Salima
    Reply

    This looks amazing! I have a jar of (Filsinger’s) apple butter in my fridge, do you think I could use that somehow?

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