It’s honey from the kitchen
NASHUA – Andrea Gates’ fondest memories are of accompanying her mother, Dorothy Gates, into a pasture for clover and driving along the roadside looking for wild roses.
Gates, a former floral designer in Sioux City now living on her family’s farm near Nashua, said the reason for the traditional summer jaunts was to find clover and roses to turn into a beeless honey.
“Our intentions were by no means to displace the need for the honey bee,” Gates said. “It was rather to enjoy as mother and daughter doing something together and at the same time having a unique food gift to occasionally give to family and friends.” But she added that Mother Nature had a key role in the success of beeless honey-making.
“Weather has been, and continues to be, a major factor in the availability of clover, along with farm pesticides and herbicides,” Gates said.
To make the beeless honey, Gates said clover and roses must be available at the same time, which didn’t happen this year.
Wild roses grew in ditches a month earlier than usual, ahead of the clover, she said.
The beeless honey recipe has been with her family for a long time.
“It’s been probably at least 50 years ago that my mother was given the recipe by a neighbor of ours, Grace Good,” Gates said. “Grace, according to the story I was to learn later, entered the honey in the Big 4 Fair here in Nashua.”
The honey won first place in the bee honey category.
Two years later, Good confessed her deception to fair judges and returned the $1 prize, according to Gates.
Not surprisingly, Gates and her neighbor, Mary Jean Parks, Good’s daughter, continue to enjoy sharing the tale and preparing homemade honey.
Although Gates’ recipe will have to wait until next spring when the season’s wild roses return, she recommends those interested give it a try.
“It’s not only fun to make,” she said, “and great not only for toast or muffins, but on ice cream when it caramelizes.”
Honey-makers should be not discouraged that the beeless honey looks like wet silage prior to straining, she said.
“Once strained, it’s pure gold honey,” Gates said, “and tastes like the real thing – so good you’d think the bees made it.”
Homemade beeless honey
45 red clover blossoms
45 white clover blossoms, or maybe a few more since they are smaller
25 wild rose petals
1 teaspoon of alum
10 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
Snip blossoms, removing all green parts
Cook three minutes, making sure sugar has dissolved
Strain and pour into jars
Makes seven to eight half pint jars per batch.