I made some fireweed honey, just like the Alaskan homesteaders used to do.
As you can imagine, living on the frontier and away from civilization was tough. Foodstuffs normally found in stores were difficult to get. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The homesteaders got creative and used what was readily available. By collecting fireweed and cooking it down with sugar, they made a delicious honey. As honey was frequently in short supply in early Alaskan history, fireweed and clover honey became a common sweet treat for early homesteaders.
Here’s the method we used for making our own fireweed honey.
First, we picked some fireweed plants. Not enough grows in our yard, so we picked the plants on Big Mountain.
Then we picked some clover.
At home, we thoroughly rinsed the clover and the fireweed. Be sure to wash all of the critters out.
(That poor little beetle was a real survivor. He lived 4 days sealed in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator.)
(However, I must confess that we added to Mr. Beetle’s torment by giving him to our cat Wes to eat. Wes has been desperate to go outside this week, but we can’t let him because our neighbor shot him with a B-B gun. We thought this would make him feel better by giving him a taste of the outdoors.)
Next up, we put the ingredients in a large pot. The liquid boiled over and caught fire. It was a huge mess and I had a heck of a time cleaning the stove.
It may be a mess, but the results were quite satisfying.
Fireweed Honey Recipe
What you will need:
- 50 pink clover blooms
- 10 white clover blooms
- 18-25 fireweed blooms
- 3/4 tsp. alum
- 5 lb. bag white sugar
- 3 cups boiling water
- Wash blooms in cold water to remove insects.
- Put all ingredients except water in pan, then pour boiling water on.
- Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Bring to boil and boil for 10 minutes.
- Strain through cheesecloth.
- Ladle into canning jars and water bath process for 10 min. before sealing lids.