I absolutely love when my herbal experiments work out; especially when they are yummy, easy to make and versatile. Today’s recipe is just that and I’m excited to share it with you.
This year I purchased a plug pack of cayenne pepper seedlings and planted them in various places throughout the garden and the herb spiral. At the time I didn’t realize how many peppers that would yield and I tell you it’s A LOT. Now that those beauties have started to come in I’m realizing just how many cayenne peppers I’ll have. Some will be tinctured, some will be used in salsa or other recipes but the vast majority will be used to make cayenne infused honey.
This honey is the perfect mix of spicy and sweet. You can enjoy it in homemade hot chocolate, as apart of a hot toddy, drizzled on appetizers (I’m thinking crackers, goat cheese, walnuts and cayenne honey… yum) or in deserts (like dark chocolate fudge). From a medicinal standpoint, this honey would be an excellent addition to a lemon ginger tea, fire cider or hot lemon water. See the section below for all the reasons why you’d want to use cayenne when you’re sick.
Medicinal Properties of Cayenne
Capsium annuum is probably one of my most used herbs in my clinic. This mainly has to do with cayenne’s ability to add heat to a formula with such small amounts, but it also makes an amazing addition to both cardiovascular and respiratory formulas.
Capsicum is a cardiac which means it’s beneficial for all heart conditions including a history of heart attack, stroke, irregular heart beat etc. In addition to this it is also a blood pressure normalizer and helps to improve general circulation throughout the entire body.
In formulations for loose coughs, congestion or stuffy noses, cayenne helps to boost those properties.
Due to Capsicum’s heat I don’t recommend using it too often as it can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. Avoid using during pregnancy, lactation and with a history of ulcers, acid reflux or heart burn.
How to Dry Your Peppers
I decided to use dried peppers when making my infused honey. I did this for two reasons; first I wanted the end product to have the consistency of honey and fresh peppers would release water, thereby making the honey watery. Secondly I read that cayenne peppers were spicier when dried and this allowed me to use less peppers when making my infused honey. Win win!
With an Oven
Preheat your oven to 120-140 °F degrees (as low as your oven can go) and spread your cayenne peppers on a baking sheet. To promote even drying it’s best to turn your peppers every 1-2 hours.
With a Dehydrator
Line your dehydrating trays with cayenne peppers and set the temperature of your dehydrator to 120-130 °F. Just like the oven method you will want to turn your peppers every few hours to ensure even drying.
Drying cayenne peppers can take up to 24 hours in both an oven or dehydrator. I kept mine in the dehydrator for approximately 14 hours. They weren’t completely dried but a lot of the moisture was gone. Using these peppers in the honey did not result in a watery end product.
Cayenne Infused Honey Recipe
- 1 cup of honey (preferably raw and local)
- 4 dehydrated/dried cayenne peppers
- or 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper powder
- double boiler
- if you don’t have one scroll down and I’ll show you my make shift double boiler
- latex/rubber gloves
It will seem tempting to not wear gloves and I advise against that. Cayenne peppers are extremely hot and will burn your skin. DO NOT rub your eyes or touch any mucus membranes until you remove your gloves.
- Pour one cup of honey into the top portion of your double boiler
- While bringing your water to a boil, using your scissors cut the cayenne peppers into 1/2 inch pieces
- I found the best method was to cut them directly over the honey. This minimizes the amount you have to touch the peppers
- Once the water comes to a boil reduce to a simmer
- Simmer your cayenne and honey for 10-20 minutes
- At then 10 minute mark taste the honey. If it has reached the level of spice you want take your double boiler off the heat. If not continue to simmer until it’s as spicy as you want it. I simmered for 15 minutes.
- Using oven mitts (your bowl will still be hot), strain your honey through a metal mesh strainer to remove the peppers and seeds
- If you used cayenne powder you will need to strain through cheesecloth
- Pour into sterilized jars, label and seal.
Side Note: Homemade Double Boiler
All of my double boilers are used to make products and are lined with beeswax. I didn’t want to clean the beeswax (such a pain) so I decided to make a double boiler out of two simple parts; a pot and a glass pyrex bowl. Fill your pot with about 2 inches of water and place the pyrex glass bowl over top. I also use a tooth pick on the side to allow some of the steam to escape. That’s it!
Enjoy your cayenne honey!