Given the right bacteria and enough time, it seems almost anything can be coaxed into vinegar. Beekeeper Peter Chorabik has done just that with honey.
Mr. Chorabik runs Toronto Bee Rescue, a group of dedicated – and fearless – beekeepers who swoop into action when a swarm or hive of unwanted honeybees is discovered. To the rest of us, a seething, humming mass of 20,000 to 30,000 stinger-bearing bees is, well, terrifying. To Mr. Chorabik and his band of superheroes, those bees are a precious resource worth the odd sting.
"In 2015, we rescued nine hives that were located inside homes around the GTA and captured 20 swarms, which we relocated to our Toronto bee yard," he says. He does this free of charge.
His honey vinegar is made in small, four-litre batches using the slow, static method of fermentation, which takes 10 days. It's then aged for six months before being bottled. He adds no sulphites or artificial flavours, and boy, does that honey flavour ever come through.
A bottle goes for $12 from www.myhoneycreations.com.
Honey-Apple Vinegar Pie
This simple, pioneer-era pie sounds too weird to be true, but it's surprisingly delicious. Tip: The crusts can be prepared the day before; and for best, most firm results, the filled pie should chill in the fridge overnight.
2 9-inch pie crusts, homemade or frozen
2 tablespoons warm liquid honey for brushing the crusts
2 1/2 cups water
2 free-run eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons honey apple vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
Blind-bake the pie crusts; Prick the dough all over with a fork, then weigh them down with dry beans or ceramic pie weights. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.
Once baked, use a pastry brush to apply the warmed honey evenly over the bottom and sides of both crusts. Set aside to cool while making the filling.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring water to a very gentle boil; somewhere between a hard simmer and gentle boil is perfect.
While the water is coming to a boil, use a whisk to beat the eggs, sugar, flour, salt and vinegar together in a large bowl until perfectly smooth.
Very slowly, pour the egg mixture into the gently boiling water, whisking constantly to prevent the egg from scrambling or lumps from forming.
Continue to whisk constantly until the mixture is as thick as runny custard, about five to 10 minutes. When the custard coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat and whisk in the almond extract and cinnamon.
Pour equally into cooled pie shells. For a finer finish, pour custard through a sieve to catch any grainy bits of cooked egg. Allow to chill in the fridge for at least six hours, preferably overnight.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of Canadian honey.
Makes two nine-inch pies.