When you write a post and ten people write back and say, “What the heck are you talking about?” you know you screwed up. “What the heck is first rinse water? Why keep it in the fridge? Why would you even bother?” Sorry, sorry. My bad.
I’ll start at the beginning. After beekeepers crush and strain honeycomb, they like to save the wax for other uses such as making candles, cosmetics, lotions, and soaps. But the first thing they have to do is clean the wax to remove all the honey that is stuck to it.
Honey readily dissolves in water, so you can wash the wax by pouring clean water over it and swishing it around for a while until most of the honey dissolves. Once you are done, the water you drain from the wax is strongly flavored with honey. The less water you use, the stronger the flavor.
Uses for the rinse water
Instead of pouring it down the drain, you can save this flavored water and use it in cooking. It can be used in place of plain water in things like bread, muffins, cakes, applesauce, tea, stir-fries, salad dressings, or any recipe that calls for both water and a sweetener. It gives the food the necessary sweetness and just a hint of honey flavor. Being the frugal type, I can’t bear to throw this stuff away . . . just think how many bee lives it took to produce it.
Now, to properly rinse your beeswax, you will probably change the water several times. Only the water from the first rinse will be sweet enough to notice, so it is the only water worth keeping. It is what I called “first rinse water” in yesterday’s post.
Refrigerate the rinse water
Since honey dissolved in water can grow yeast and mold, I store the rinse water in a lidded jar in the refrigerator. Properly chilled, it will easily keep for several weeks. If you want to keep it longer you could freeze it in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, move the cubes into a freezer bag.
By the way, some of these ideas came originally from HB at Backyard Bee Hive Blog. HB is a beekeeper and cooking school instructor with some yummy ideas. Her blog is loaded with beekeeping advice and recipes she developed for using her own home-grown honey. Be sure to check it out.
Update (10/19/17): Tim Norris, a beekeeper and mead maker, sent in a related tip. He says, “I rinse out my extractor with as little boiling water as possible and save the sugary liquid in the freezer until I’m ready to ferment again. It can be used as a yeast starter or added to the honey instead of plain water. I hate seeing honey go to waste!” Excellent idea, Tim! Thank you.
Honey Bee Suite