Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lemon-Honey "Jam" & Hot Lemonade

hot lemonade
Winter usually ushers in cold & flu season, which means sore throats and coughs. Here is a very soothing, natural and sublimely delicious way to ease the discomfort of a sore throat and possibly help with other symptoms (it's packed with Vitamin C, and honey is also highly regarded for its medicinal properties).  The original recipe is here, and the author says it's an old, traditional Korean recipe. The article was recommended to me by a fellow singer, and for me this lemon-honey "jam" and the hot lemonade I make from it has brought much relief to my tired voice during this busy holiday season. I've also managed to avoid getting sick -- coincidence? Perhaps...

This sweet-tart treat is quite easy to make and enchantingly delicious whether enjoyed "straight" steeped in hot water as hot lemonade, or spooned into hot tea or herbal tea. You can even eat it straight from the jar, or make a hot toddy by adding hot water and a splash of dark rum, bourbon, whiskey or other liquor to the hot lemonade.

All you need are clean Mason jars (1/2 pint or full pint), fresh lemons and RAW honey -- do not use honey that has been pasteurized, filtered or otherwise processed. I prefer to use organic lemons so that there is no pesticide residue, wax or other "pollutant" on the rind. I also recommend making more than 1 jar at a time so that you can let one "age" longer while you enjoy the first jar. According to the original article, this lemon-honey "jam" is shelf-stable and won't spoil at room temperature even after opening, and it can last for years if refrigerated.

recipe for lemon honey jam
Wash and dry the lemons, then cut into very thin slices, as thin as you can --  for 1/2 pint jars, I cut the lemon in half crosswise and then cut each half lengthwise to make half-moon slices. If you have very large lemons, you can cut again into wedges and then slices. As you slice the lemons, remove and discard all seeds.

Fill each jar with the lemon slices -- this may take anywhere from 1 to 2 full lemons per half-pint jar, depending on how large they are. If you end up with leftover slices, save them for cooking or for adding to drinks.

Carefully pour raw honey over the lemon slices until the jar is no more than half-full of honey. The honey will begin releasing the juices and essential oils from the lemons, and the honey-lemon liquid will eventually finish filling the jar. Don't make the mistake I did once and fill the jar with honey, because this will cause the liquid to leak out as the lemons break down in the honey.

honey-lemon jam
Tightly close each jar and store either in your pantry or in the refrigerator and wait at least 24 hours before opening to let the juice and oils seep from the lemons. If you store your "jam" in the refrigerator, this process will take longer, so I always leave at least 1 jar at room temperature so that it's ready to enjoy in a few days. The more days you wait, the "stronger" and more jam-like the concoction will be, because the honey will have had more time to break down the lemons and extract their juices and oils. The color will also darken slightly, and according to the article the "jam" eventually will begin to ferment. I've always finished a jar before it got to that point, but supposedly it will still be safe to eat, and might have even more "healing" properties from the fermentation.

To make hot lemonade, spoon out as much as you'd like of the lemon-honey jam into a mug and fill with boiling water -- I use at least a couple of tablespoons for a large mug, and "mash" the lemons as I add the water. I sometimes also like to add a cinnamon stick for additional flavor.  Cover and let seep for 10 minutes, then sip and enjoy the relief it brings to your sore throat or overworked vocal folds. The honey can also help calm a cough. After I've drunk all the hot lemonade, I eat the mashed lemons, rinds and all (that's another reason to use organic lemons). The rinds become sweeter over time as they absorb more honey. In fact, after a few weeks I find myself eating the "jam" straight from the jar!

If you drink tea or herbal tea, add a spoonful or two of this jam instead of using sugar or plain lemon. And as mentioned before, the hot lemonade can be the base of a warming hot beverage for adults by adding some booze.

I hope this ancient, natural "home remedy" brings you comfort the next time your throat hurts, your voice is tired, you feel under the weather, or you just want to enjoy a warm, soothing beverage.

Zestfully yours,

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