Crushing and straining . . . and moaning
Normally, I do not extract any of my honey. In fact, the reason I keep my own bees is so that I can have a steady supply of comb honey. On those occasions when I need some liquid honey for a recipe, I just gather the drips that accumulate under the comb in my honey dish. No problem.
But when my daughter visited recently, I asked if she needed more honey. “No,” she said, “I still have four combs.” Then, much to my dismay, she added, “We are going to buy some honey so we have it ready for recipes.”
What? Buy honey? When I can’t even find room enough to store it all? I was appalled. (Although I’ve noticed her weirdness quotient increasing since she got married. I suppose that’s normal.)
At that point, I set about doing something I said I would never do: I deliberately removed honey from its comb. Oh, so sad . . . like separating the chunks from peanut butter or the skins from potatoes or the seeds from raspberries. What is the point? What is food without texture?
Alas, setting aside my personal hang-ups, I referred to a recent post at Mudsongs.org and followed the crushing and straining instructions exactly. I cut the comb out of the section boxes (trying not to think about how hard it was to get them filled in the first place), stacked them in a big flat-bottom bowl, and squashed them to a pulp with a potato masher (nothing short of heart-wrenching, believe me). Next, I poured the smashings into a strainer and let the honey drip through.
Much to my surprise this actually worked. I put the strainer in the sun (yes, on rare occasions the sun winks upon western Washington) and the dripping proceeded at a steady clip. In no time, I filled two pint jars.
Now this honey is going to my daughter who is used to comb honey, so I know she won’t freak over a few specks of wax. For more discerning clientele, I suppose I would next put the honey through a fine mesh to remove all the little floaters. After it set overnight, though, I was able to skim most of them off the surface. It looks pretty good considering I have none of the “proper” equipment.
So now I can add “crushing and straining” to my ever-expanding list of beekeeper done-its. And the bees, thinking they died and went to heaven, are cleaning up the crushed wax which I piled inside an eke on one of the hives. For the moment at least, everyone is happy.