Snide Honey – A beekeepers test!
A friend of mine, a retired chef, often makes tasty food related things for me to try, or shares anything he’s made too much of. I complain bitterly obviously, but he insists. Chris, like me, is particularly fond of free or foraged ingredients. We are both very big fans of free food. One day he found a punnet of apricots by a bus stop. An hour later he handed me jar of apricot jam as I walked past his narrow boat home. To be fair this was a lucky one-off and most of his ingredients are from the wild, or from the hedges of unoccupied houses, and other unspecified, mystery places. He makes full use of his bus pass and always has a couple of plastic carrier bags about his person, just in case.
One day, as I was walking home on the towpath, from my allotment, Chris came out onto the front deck of his narrow boat, clutching something.
He handed me a label free jar of what looked like honey, accompanied with the challenge “Try that, see what you think”.
He often passed me jars of jam, or chutney, small pies, and the occasional carrier bag of locally foraged Oyster mushrooms, and in return he got fruit and vegetables from my allotment, and honey from my bees. He’s a big fan of my honey and I thought that maybe he had found a local rival.
I unscrewed the jar and took a dip.
It tasted lovely, and my initial thoughts were that it was a very nice honey but then, a couple of seconds later, there was something else, something you don’t get in honey, a very slight background hint of fruitiness, but it was still lovely. What was it? He was grinning from ear to ear as he watched the changing expressions on my face.
“It’s not honey!” I declared smiling.
“You’re the second person to spot it!” he admitted.
“Who was the first?”
“Another bee keeper, but everyone else thinks its honey”.
I pointed out that if you spent several hours a week with your head stuck in bee hives then you probably have a good idea what honey smells like. I reckon most beekeepers would spot this imposter, but it was good, very good indeed, and some might not past this test.
My mate explained that it was ‘Snide Honey’, the Yorkshire name given to a liquid which, to a non beekeeper, could easily pass for honey, but is actually made from apples and rose hips.
In England ‘snide’ means devious, underhand, or sneaky, and to be labelled by someone as a ‘snide’ or ‘snidey’ is a huge insult as you are not liked, and deemed to be untrustworthy.
So going by its name this product was possibly once used in deceptions, and it’s easy to see how.
However the liquid is a wonderful concoction in its own right, lovely on toast, or as an ingredient in a hot drink, or indeed anywhere else you would use honey, and the rosehip content may give it a high vitamin C content. It’s a fantastic product in its own right, and it’s easy to make, a worthwhile addition to your preserves shelf, and a great talking point, particularly if there’s an embarrassed beekeeper present.
It’s basically apple and rose hip jelly, which is bottled before it sets, so that its consistency is similar to honey. You could of course boil it onto setting point if you wanted a jelly.
Its roughly a 2:1 ratio of apples to rose hips, for example 2lbs of apples to 1lb of rosehips. In theory that weight should be matched in sugar but I always find jam recipes too sweet when treated this way and snide honey is no different, so for this example you would have slightly less than 3lbs of sugar.
However one of the tricks you can use when making snide honey is to add a little real honey, and if you choose to do this then you must reduce the sugar even more because honey, as well as modifying the taste, greatly alters the perception of sweetness. Bear this in mind when you measure out the sugar.
This is what you need to do to make snide honey:
– Apples (cookers) and rosehips in a 2:1 ratio and boiled together
– Strained to produce a liquid (the finer the sieve the clearer the liquid)
– Add sugar – see notes above (an old recipe suggests 1lb to each pint)
– Boil up again until the required consistency is reached
– Optional: add honey, approx. 2 teaspoons per 1lb of liquid
– Seal in jars
So around about September or October time, if you have lots of apples and hips, give it a try. Let me know how you get on, and how many people you fooled.
Note 1: Heating honey to a high temperature may destroy nutrients and may also reduce it’s medicinal value, and perhaps its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. To preserve those amazing attributes, and the real local honey taste, then stir in the honey as the liquid cools.
Note 2: According to recent EU legislation (2015) only honey made exclusively by bees can carry the name ‘honey’ on any retail labelling so you must, in such cases, also make it clear that your ‘snide honey’ is actually something else, and it might be a good idea to include the words ‘apple’ and ‘rosehip’.
(This article was adapted from one I originally wrote for Leeds Beekeepers monthly Newsletter)