fermented lemon honey

At first I was skeptical. Wouldn’t fermented lemons taste weird? Plus, I’m not a huge fan of honey. (Please ignore that fact that I buy honey by the gallon to make vats of mead.) However! I do love my ginger lemon tea and the fermented lemon method sounded simple enough — stuff lemon slices into a jar, top with honey, and let sit on the counter for two weeks — that I figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least try it.

At first I used the lemon honey to sweeten tea, but then I started skipping the tea bag all together — just hot water with a lemon slice and a couple spoonfuls of honey — and liked it even more. The clincher: my husband, a non-tea-drinking man actually requests it.

I got the recipe from Kate over at Venison for Dinner. According to her, the honey is supposed to actively bubble while it’s fermenting. Mine doesn’t, and I’m not sure why. The first time I used local honey from friends of ours, and the second time I used half local honey and half Costco honey, and it acted the same. I decided I don’t care, though. Bubbles or no, it’s still good.

I added a pile of fresh ginger the second time around

A few observations:

  • The lemon flavor is mild, as is the ginger; honey is the predominant flavor.
  • There’s no fermentation funk. Instead, the flavor is simply fuller. More robust. Umami-ish?
  • Once lemons are added, the honey becomes quite runny.
  • This tea is both warming and nourishing, like a food. 
  • Boiling water kills the good stuff in the honey, so if that matters to you, just use warm water. 
  • Curiosity #1: When mixing the honey and warm water, there’s a cap of froth — from the fermented honey?
  • Curiosity #2: Lemon slices in the tea sink to the bottom instead of floating.
  • Come summertime, I bet this would be good mixed with seltzer water and ice.
  • Kate adds hot chilis to some of her jars; I think fresh thyme would be nice.

P.S. People, THIS MUG. A family friend (and distant relative by marriage) learned that I’ve been hankering after an oversized ceramic mug and gifted me this glorious beast that she made with her own two hands. I drink out of it almost daily (fermented lemon tea, naturally).

I’ve never been more hydrated. 

Fermented Lemon Honey
With inspiration from Kate at Venison for Dinner

3 lemons, washed well and thinly sliced, pithy ends removed
3-4 cups honey

Pack the lemons into a quart jar. Top with honey. Ferment the lemons on the counter at room temperature for 2-4 weeks, flipping the jar every day or so to keep the contents mixed. Loosen the lid once a day to “burp” the jar (for those of you who actually get some lively fermentation action). To serve, fork a couple lemon slices into a mug. Add 1-2 tablespoons of honey. Top off the mug with warm-hot water. 

Ginger Lemon Honey: add about a half cup of fresh ginger slices along with the lemons. 
Hot Lemon Honey: add a red chili, or some dried chili flakes.

This same time, years previous: the disaster that wasn’t, five fun things, the Baer family gathering of 2019, homemade lard, the quotidian (1.11.16), the quotidian (1.12.15), between two worlds, crumbs, in which I suggest you do.


  • Lindsay

    I made a pint jar a few weeks ago and I really like it. I’m going to make a couple bigger jars to stash in the fridge since it’s citrus season here (CA). My lime tree set such a large crop this year it broke branches, so I’ve got two quarts going with limes and several dried chiles de arbol; I think it’s going to make fantastic margaritas.

  • Amy Mussen

    This sounds delightful! As a newbie to fermentation, I have questions.

    When you say “loosen the lid,” (assume you’re using a two piece metal canning lid) you mean just the ring, or break the seal to let some air out/in then screw it all back on to reseal? Wonder if one of those plastic storage lids would work for this, or if it needs the gummy seal for… whatever fermentation needs?

    After the two week period, can it languish on the counter indefinitely? Maybe a small batch in a pint jar (1c honey + 1 lemon) for a slow drinker?

    • Jennifer Jo

      I’m a fermentation newbie, too!!
      1. “Loosen the lid” means to just not screw it on tight. I’m usually using plastic screw-on lids (no gummy seal), and I just unscrew it all the way to burp it (though it never really burps), and then only partially screw it back on. (When I have the jar upside down, it’s screwed on tight, of course.)
      2. Yes! Kate recommended 2-4 weeks and then strain the honey and store it in the fridge. I just keep it on the counter indefinitely, unstrained. So far, I haven’t noticed the flavors intensifying much beyond the 2-4 week mark, but like I said, I’m still new at this…

  • Nicky

    I love making this. I also make one with fresh turmeric, fresh ginger, cinnamon and black pepper that I stir into warm milk for a golden milk type thing, or ACV and water for a cold drink. Alternatively I just have a spoonful to ward off colds. I’m a big fan of honey ferments! Blackcurrants are good too, and cranberries.

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