Vanilla - My Hawaiian Vanilla Story

Vanilla Orchid Bloom

Vanilla Orchid Bloom

Vanilla - from what I have learned over the past year, vanilla is very underappreciated! Savor every bite of that french vanilla ice cream, as the journey from flower to cured vanilla bean is very long.

I purchased a vanilla orchid vine from Paradise Plants in Hilo a few years ago. Last year, when it reached the vine length required for flowering, I was rewarded with quite a few buds that began forming in March. It has been reported that the vine needs to reach 30-50' before it is mature enough to flower. I had been wrapping mine around and around for a few years now. I madly googled how to pollinate the flowers, as you have to do it by hand. I was all prepared, but had to wait quite a few weeks into April for the bloom to flower. I kept checking on them daily with anticipation. Finally they started to bloom, each cluster had an open flower almost every day. You have to make sure you do it before noon, as they don't stay open very long and you'll miss that opportunity for a bean. Jim got to be an expert at pollinating them during the week, and I practiced on the weekends.  I think we need more practice as we only managed to get 8 beans started this year!

The beginning of a vanilla bud.  

The beginning of a vanilla bud.

 

Vanilla Orchid Buds

Vanilla Orchid Buds

Vanilla Orchid in Full Bloom

Vanilla Orchid in Full Bloom

So, we got 8 flowers to pollinate and start a bean. They grew longer and longer for a month or so, then stopped. They finally started to turn a little yellow today, December 24, which I am told is time to pick them. I went out and finally got to harvest the little gems! I had previously googled how to cure the beans and was shocked to find out what the next steps would be, and how long they take! Since I don't live on the Kona side, the option of letting them cure on the vine was out. Our Pahoa weather would turn them into mush far too soon. So I opted for the blanching/sweating/drying method.

Vanilla Beans Fresh Off The Vine

Vanilla Beans Fresh Off The Vine

The next step was blanching them in 160°F water for 2 1/2 minutes. The water smelled like flowers after I took them out! Then you quickly wrap them up in a towel and cover it in plastic to let them sweat for 48 hours. Then you put them in a cooler to maintain an even temperature. That's were they are sitting right now. I'll post another photo on what they look like when they come out of their towel sauna in a cooler stage. Once that is done, you have to let them dry in the morning and afternoon sun every day for 2 months, wrapping them back up in their towel every night. After that, they need to sit in a waxed paper lined box for another 3 months! I think they will be ready for ice cream after that.  I'll keep you posted! 

Vanilla beans after blanching and sweating.

Vanilla beans after blanching and sweating.

5/07/2017

At last - they are ready!

Vanilla Beans

After many months of waiting, I finally deemed the vanilla beans ready to be used. I decided to make vanilla extract from them. I settled on a recipe for a single fold extract. If I had more beans I'd go for double the amount with a double fold recipe. A lot of recipes called for a plain cheap vodka as the base, but I decided to go with the leftover Everclear I still had from making propolis tincture. You have to dilute the Everclear as it's 151 proof, as oposed to a 70 proof vodka. The upside to Everclear is that there is no taste to interfere with your finished vanilla extract.

I sliced the bean in half to expose their caviar looking seeds in the middle for maximum flavor extraction.

Sliced open vanilla bean

I then added the diluted Everclear and vanilla beans together in an 8 oz Mason jar. Now guess what? More waiting! It takes at least 6 weeks for the extract to be ready to use.

Vanilla in Jar

Here are the beans right after putting them in the jar. I'll put it in a dark place and give it a shake every once in a while while it develops it's delicious flavor. I'll give you another update when it's ready. I can't wait to taste it!

Aloha, Linda

Cloves!

Cloves, the finished product we are all familiar with.

Cloves, the finished product we are all familiar with.

I never thought about where cloves came from until I ran into a clove tree for sale in a "holiday" collection of spice trees for sale at a local tree farm. I just had to have one to go with my pumpkin pie collection (cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove) to plant in one corner of the farm about 4 years ago.

This year, my tree started doing something a little exciting, but took forever to culminate in the flowers that make the actual clove. I kept thinking it was just getting more leaves, but finally it revealed itself to be blooming. I had to quickly figure out what the process was to harvest these little gems. It turns out, you have to harvest the blooms before they actually open.  They turn a little pink at their base right before they bloom and this is the sign to start picking. You then just dry them out in the sun, or in the oven at very low temps. I left a batch in the oven to dry and forgot about them until I hit preheat to 350°, my house quickly filled with the scent of cloves as a warning, but they were all black as coal when they came out.

I took some pictures for you to see what they look like before you get them in the bottle at the store. Enjoy!

The first stage - a couple months before harvest.

The first stage - a couple months before harvest.

Buds about a month before harvest.

Buds about a month before harvest.

They are finally ready!

They are finally ready!

Cloves, ready to be dried. You can see a couple that have actually bloomed out into a puffy little flower.

Cloves, ready to be dried. You can see a couple that have actually bloomed out into a puffy little flower.

Here is the tree, it's about 20 feet tall now. I don't know how I am going to harvest them next year!

Here is the tree, it's about 20 feet tall now. I don't know how I am going to harvest them next year!

Aloha,
Linda

Chocolate - From The Beginning

I get so excited to show anyone where the most delicious thing on the planet comes from! I have company coming so I ran down to the farmers market last week and found a farmer with a great deal on cocoa pods and quickly snapped up two of them for demo purposes. Since company rarely stays more than two weeks, it's a project that I have to start early on so we can roast it up halfway through their visit.  It's kinda sad, as the most amazing part is that this luscious food comes from these strange looking pale slimy things. They remind me of corn a little bit, although its contained within a pod, and there isn't a core.

Cocoa Pods, opened and ready to wrap in banana leaves.

It takes two weeks at the minimum for the cocoa to ferment and turn into the dark colored bean for roasting. I open them up, pull out the corn cob looking group of beans and spread them out on a banana leaf. You then wrap them up really good in more banana leaves, alternating which way the leaf goes so you get a nice sealed up package of beans. I use at least four leaves.  Then you find a nice sunny spot to set them in where they will transform into cocoa ready to dry and roast. 

Cocoa beans all wrapped up and ready for their transformation.

Now the waiting begins!  I'll post more pictures when I unwrap them, and when they are ready to roast. 

Stay tuned......

I missed getting a picture when they came out of the banana leaf.  I'll try to get another one for you the next time I process some. They aren't very pretty at that stage. You rinse them off really well, and dry them in the oven overnight at 170°. You then put them in a very hot pan and flip them around constantly for an even roast.  Here is a picture of another batch I roasted. You then just peel off the outer thin shell and you have a delicious chocolate nib.


Aloha, 

Linda

A Bee's Life - Hawaiian Style

I feel warmth, hear pleasant humming, and become aware of a snug capsule all around my body. I can hear footsteps above my head walking around, a bustle of activity. Instinct propels me to start chewing and clawing my way through the thin veil of wax that encapsulated my brood cell. I manage to get through it and slowly crawl out of my cell to a cacophony of buzzing. I look around in the faint light and see thousands of my kind, all purposefully moving in a giant organism that is a honey bee hive.

I am approached by a worker bee, who introduces herself as Jasmine and says she will instruct me on what my job is. I have to clean my cell! Well I guess all workers have to make their own bed, so here I go. I go in head first and spiffy up the cell so it's as clean and polished as the day I was laid in there as an egg. It's now ready for a new sister's egg to be laid. Jasmine instructs me to keep going cell to cell and make sure they are all clean and ready for a new egg, and also to put pollen and honey in. It's tedious work but I am assured different jobs are headed my way.

After about three days of cell cleaning, a bee named Sylvia approaches me. She instructs me to start helping haul out the bees that didn't make it. Sometimes larvae will die in the cell and need to be taken out of the hive. Other times, adult bees will die of old age or some other malady, and will need to be taken out. There are diseases that happen also, and we have to keep the hive clean and disease free. If any larvae are infected we take them out too.  I have heard that birds are waiting outside the hive to pick them up and take them to heaven. It's harder work than cleaning cells, but I am a few days old now and getting stronger.

After the second day of morgue duty, Cindy, a bee a couple days older than me, approaches me with more duties. I find out I get to help feed the baby bees! That should be a fun job. When the egg hatches, which is about three days after it's laid, we feed it royal jelly and honey. The ones that are designated worker bees get royal jelly for the first three days, then we feed them only honey, pollen, and liquid from plants. If it's a queen larva, we feed her a lot of royal jelly the whole time, along with honey and liquids. The drone bees get a mixture that doesn't contain much pollen on the outset, but when they are older they get a very heavy mixture of pollen in their food. They take the longest to hatch, 24 days, as opposed to a worker that only takes 21 days. A really strange thing is that it only takes 16 days for a queen to hatch!  She gets a special cell that is built out from the comb, it kind of looks like a peanut shell when it's closed.

I get to feed the older larvae for the next three days, I am 6 days old now. A brood-food gland on my abdomen (hypopharyngeal) is starting to produce royal jelly so I can now feed the young larvae that have just hatched. I work from cell to cell, transferring royal jelly to each larvae in my work area. I heard there is a queen cell around the corner that is getting massive amounts of royal jelly right now. I wonder if she is going to take over the hive? We feed the very young larvae more than they can eat, but as they get older we only feed them smaller amounts, as they need it.

Young worker bees inside the hive.

Young worker bees inside the hive.

My brood-food gland is starting to not produce anymore, but another amazing thing is happening. I am 13 days old now and am noticing a waxy substance coming from under my abdomen. A bee named Judy approaches me and says, "Congratulations! You are producing beeswax. We need you over here now. Follow me!" I follow her to a gathering of other bees my age that are busy passing flakes of wax they are pulling off their abdomens. They are busy building honeycomb. It's amazing, we get in there with our feet and mouths and mold these wax flakes into these beautiful geometric cells, ready for honey, pollen, or larval cells. I heard that man in any way has never recreated this wax.  It's a unique substance only a honeybee can make. We keep eating honey and making wax for the hive. It takes around 6 pounds of honey to make one pound of wax. We use the nice new wax to cap the larvae when they enter the pupa stage also. When the honey is ready we head over there and produce wax to seal that up too.

I am also busy packing pollen into cells for storage. We use this for food, it has so many nutritional benefits! It is almost 25% complete protein and has 18 amino acids. It has the full spectrum of vitamins, 28 minerals, 14 beneficial fatty acids, 11 enzymes or co-enzymes, and is rich in minerals. It is said to be a complete food for man too. The worker bees spend a lot of time collecting this for the hive.

In other cells we start making honey! The field bees bring in the nectar and the house worker bees meet them at the door to transfer the nectar and take care of it. We do the same thing when they bring pollen. There is a lot of activity at the entrance to a hive! We take the nectar and start processing it. It is a time consuming activity that actually has a chemical and physical change to the nectar. We mix it with an enzyme called invertase, which we make in our salivary glands. The invertase actually breaks the disaccharide sucrose in the nectar into two monosaccharides, glucose and fructose. Sometimes the nectar is all sucrose, but not always, but honey is always broken down into glucose and fructose, with maybe 1% sucrose left in. We put small drops of this nectar/enzyme mixture in the prepared cells and then start fanning. Whew, this is hard work! We have to get the moisture content down to less than 18.5% and we start out at 30% or even 90%. A lot of fanning is involved to get the honey to this super low moisture level. But that is what makes honey a food that doesn't spoil. The moisture content is so low that fermentation or spoilage cannot occur. At this stage it is in a hygroscopic state, meaning it is able to draw water to it. If you leave a drop on the counter, it will draw moisture from the air around it. In humid Hawaii you will have a very liquid spot in no time! We seal off the honey once we get it to the right moisture level with our beeswax to keep it at the proper moisture level.

Beautiful capped honey - nice white virgin wax!

Beautiful capped honey - nice white virgin wax!

I am 19 days old now. Shirley, a bee a few days older than me, stops by and tells me it's time for guard duty. Guard duty! What on earth are we guarding from? She takes me to the entrance of the hive and instructs me to keep a watchful eye on who is coming and going from the hive. There are so many bees going in and out that I get dizzy for a bit. But gradually I figure out the ropes. Some bees are at the entrance buzzing their wings like crazy. I ask what they are doing. Wow, they are ventilating the hive! We like our hives to be in the 92-93 degree range, so if it gets warm out the girls start fanning at the entrance to create a nice breeze to keep it cooler. I am warned to get ready for a day or two of this work. But now I am on the look out for foreign bugs and robber bees. Small hive beetles come at night and try to get in our hives at dusk. We attack them and try to fight them off, but they have a hard shell and are determined to get in.  We then have to round them up in the hive and lock them in "beetle jails" made of propolis. It took us a while to figure out how to do this, but we are getting better at it. Our keepers put an oil tray in the bottom of the hive where we can chase them to so they'll drown. This has helped a lot too. But they are relentless and if we don't have enough bees in the hive, they can take over and lay eggs, which hatch and can take over the entire hive and make a huge, ugly, gooey mess. We have to evacuate when that happens. I hope I never have to see that.

My fanning days are here.  I am exhausted! But I have met a lot of field bees that are telling me to get ready for the best days of my life coming up.  I am ready! In the past few days I have gotten to try out my wings and have taken short flights outside the hive. We all hover around the front door and try to memorize which hive is ours. You don't want to land on the front door of another hive or you will get beat up by their guards. Our keeper has put numbers in front of our hive, so we can tell which one is ours. I am excited for what's next.

After a good nights rest I am awakened by a field bee named Julie. She said she would be taking me out for my first field day. Out of the hive we go, up, up, and over the treetops we go. It's breathtaking! The world is so big. She tells me bees are out collecting many things for the hive. Water, pollen, nectar, and propolis. Most bees are collecting either pollen or nectar, only a few are collecting water for the hive. There are others that collect propolis, a sticky substance that consists of resins collected from the barks and sticky buds of trees and plants. They take these resin gatherings and mix it with wax and salivary excretions to sterilize the hive and seal up holes and smooth rough spots (and jail beetles).  We are going to gather nectar today. You only gather one type of item per trip. I might gather pollen on my next trip, but you never mix them together. My eyes use ultraviolet light to see which lights up all the flowers containing nectar and pollen. Most flowers have brightly-lit landing areas for me to home in on to get to the nectar quickly. You humans can't see what I see, but if you use your computer to Google it, you will be amazed at what you humans can't see when it comes to flowers. They are much more than just pretty colorful petals. I go from flower to flower filling up my "honey stomach", it's not my real stomach, I only store honey there for the trip back home. When I fill up, I head up to the sky to scout my way back to the hive. When I reach it, younger bees are waiting for me to offload the nectar and start processing it into honey. Once I am unloaded I can go back to where I know there are a lot of flowers ready with nectar.

I fly above the trees, navigating my way back, taking in the sights along the way. Bang! Something just hit me! What was that? Another hit comes and I am thrown off balance. I dive down to the trees and take cover from the mysterious substance I have just collided with in the air. Another bee is next to me under a leaf. I crawl over to her and ask what is going on. Her name is Jennifer. She spends the next-half hour or so telling me all kinds of horror stories she has encountered while foraging. I am transfixed by her stories and realize that there are many dangers that go along with the thrill of leaving the hive. The substance that hit me is rain, she says. You will encounter it a lot in Hawaii. Sometimes the raindrops are so big that it can take a wing right off. Many bees have been maimed by raindrops and never make it back to the hive. The sun comes out again and she takes off to complete her gathering. I tentatively fly up again, into the sunny sky, a new sense of awareness to the dangers of the world hanging in my heart. But, oh, it's such a beautiful world!

After a few days of gathering pollen and honey, I heard a rumor. A new queen cell has hatched. Someone said there wasn't enough room in the hive, all our honey cells are full and we have so many bees in a small space. If the beekeeper doesn't come soon and empty out our honey stores, we won't have anywhere to put new nectar. In Hawaii we don't have to get ready for winter, it never comes. Flowers bloom year round and we just keep making honey and new bees.

The word is that the old queen is going to find a new place for a hive. Half of the workers are going to go with her. Communication has been rampant as the bees that are going and those that are staying are sorted out. The ones that are going have gathered around the entrance and are waiting for good weather to head out. I am going to stay with the old hive and new queen. Good weather has arrived. Tens of thousands of bees pour out of the hive following the old queen. She lands on a nearby tree branch and the multitude of worker bees surround and cover her in a big ball of bees on the branch. A few bees are assigned the task of finding a suitable place to make a new home. They go out and search, returning to the ball of bees in the trees to communicate the location they have found. Several search bees will communicate the location and amenities of their chosen site. A consensus is reached with input from all the bees and off they all fly, in a swarm, to their new home.

We are left with only half the bees in our hive. It is harder to protect the hive from predators and beetles, but we are valiantly trying our best. The old queen left us with many new baby bees that will hatch shortly. Meanwhile the new queen is getting her bearings. Someone told me that she had to fight for her position, there was more than one queen cell, and one hatched at the same time she did. She managed to fight off the other queen who was killed. She secreted her special scent, a pheromone, which puts all the bees at ease and wanting to cater to her every whim. They had another couple of queen cells that had not hatched yet, so they opened them up and let her kill them also. She is now the queen of the hive. In a couple of days she will breed with the drones and start her legacy.

It's breeding day. All those drones that have been hanging around doing nothing finally have a job to do. They have been flying out to the "Drone Spot" bar where the queen will go in a little bit. It can be up to a mile away, and is between 200-300 feet in the air.  They wait around all their lives for this moment and die shortly after a successful mating. Drones have large eyes that can spot a virgin queen on her nuptial flight easily. The queen mates, in-flight, with several drones that deposit enough sperm in her spermatheca, a special sac in her abdomen, to last her life span. She might make several trips out to mate to ensure her spermatheca sac is full. Sometimes though, a queen will run out of sperm and can only produce drone offspring at that point. The hive will then produce another queen, as the worker bees are the ones who monitor the health of the hive and decide if a new queen is needed. They then pick a larva and only feed it royal jelly. Hawaiian drones have one advantage over the mainland drones. Horror stories abound about drones getting kicked out into the cold when winter comes. They simply cannot afford to feed a noncontributing member of the hive during the long, cold days of winter over there.

Our new queen successfully mated several times and is already beginning her chore of laying eggs. It's been said she can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day, and up to a million in her lifetime. All the worker bees take good care of her, they clean and feed her, tending to her every need. We all realize that we are all indispensable and contribute to the health and vitality of the hive. New babies are hatching every day, starting out just like I did, cleaning their cell and moving up to more complex jobs to keep the hive humming. Someday soon I will hang up my wings, knowing I did my part to keep the hive going, and meet the cardinal hanging outside the front door.

I hope you enjoyed my story of a bee's life inside of a Hawaiian honey bee hive. This is a work of fiction based on fact.

With much aloha, Linda Wakefield

Written by Linda Wakefield

 

 

 

 

White Pineapple Finale Video!

As promised, I just had Jim video me picking and slicing open the gorgeous white pineapple I have been talking about for a few months now. I hate having my picture taken but I braved the video (which is even worse!) because I really wanted you to experience the final occasion, and I couldn't get Jim to do it for me, ugh!

It weighed in at an impressive 7 1/2 pounds! You can't quite see that on the video as the angle was wrong. I guessed it would be 5 pounds but it surpassed my estimate greatly. This is the largest pineapple we have ever grown.

When I took the first slice I just knew it was going to be at the perfect ripeness. I wish you could taste and smell it. I brought it in the house after the video and the whole house is fragrant now with the sweet smell. We had some with breakfast. The taste is hard to explain, but you know how it is when you eat a regular yellow pineapple, sometimes you feel like the acid in it is eating away at your tongue and mouth? Well, white pineapples don't have much of that at all. Their acid content must be a lot lower, you can still feel it a little, but not nearly as much. They are also a lot sweeter tasting to me.

The inside of a white pineapple. Yum!

The inside of a white pineapple. Yum!

I also took a picture of the plant after we harvested the pineapple.  You can see all the suckers that have grown out the sides of the plant. This one has quite a few! Eight to be exact. Usually they don't get this many. There are four or five small ones, and the ones that came out earlier are quite large and you can't tell in the picture they are suckers. They look like regular leaves. For some reason this plant decided just to take off and get huge and did everything in a big way. Maybe it's those mac nut husks I have been spreading around in the garden for mulch. I think they work very well!

We will be separating the suckers and planting them individually. They grow much faster than the tops of the pineapple fruit and will probably bear fruit in half the time. I'll have to get a large area ready since there are so many of them. A nice problem to have!

This pineapple plant has 8 suckers!

This pineapple plant has 8 suckers!

That was fun, I hope you don't laugh at my video too hard! I hope to do some other ones in the future. If you have anything you are curious about that grows in Hawaii, let me know. Maybe we can produce another video, or at least a journal post. The coffee is starting to ripen, that might be interesting. It's a long process! That reminds me, I need to order a cherry pitter pronto! I had someone give me a helpful hint last year that it's the easiest way to husk them. I have been doing it by hand individually, your fingers really start to hurt after a while!

Aloha! Linda

Liquid Raw Honey - Is It Really Raw?

I keep getting asked the same question about honey. "If it's raw, why isn't it solid?" A lot of health shows and videos show raw honey in a solid crystallized state. Some websites will also post pictures of liquid honey next to crystallized honey and say the liquid honey is fake.  This is not accurate.

Yes, raw honey can be liquid. In fact all raw honey starts out in a liquid form. The bees keep the hive around 95° F, which keeps the honey in a liquid supersaturated state. It consists of mostly fructose and glucose, with water, sucrose, maltose, trisaccharides, vitamins, and minerals filling in the remaining.  Depending on the particular honey composition of fructose to glucose, they honey may crystallize quickly, very slowly, or not at all. If there is a larger ratio of glucose, it tends to want to revert from a dissolved solution and crystallize more quickly. This ratio all depends on the type of nectar the bees have collected.

Fresh raw honey from the farm!

Fresh raw honey from the farm!

Raw honey has pollen, propolis, tiny natural crystals, and bits of wax in it that create "seed" surface for crystallization to occur. Processed, ultra-filtered and heated honey does not contain these seeds for the crystallization process to start. Ultra-filtered honey that does not contain pollen cannot even be sold as honey per the FDA as honey has to have pollen present to be genuine. Unfortunately these fake honeys get into the food supply. A lot of times it is imported and adulterated with high fructose corn syrup, or even water. All the health benefits of natural raw honey have been taken out, and only sugar remains.

When we process honey it is kept at room temperature and never heated. Heating honey past 104­° destroys beneficial enzymes and can change the aroma and color. If your honey crystallizes and you don't like the texture (some people prefer it crystallized), you can gently heat it to 95° - 104° in a water bath to re-liquify it. It should stay liquid for a month or so, but will eventually return to a crystallized state.

You can freeze extra honey to keep it liquid. This thickens the honey so much that the molecules cannot move very fast to form crystals.  But if you want to keep it in its liquid state, don't put your honey in the refrigerator, as this will encourage it to crystallize faster.  Just keep it at room temperature for daily use. I personally like my honey in its liquid form, but everyone has their individual preferences. I am going to try my hand and making creamed honey and keep it raw. Creamed honey has a controlled extra-fine crystallization process that makes the honey smooth as butter. The usual method includes heating the honey beyond the range of 104° F and then introducing specific sized sugar seed crystals, then cooling it. As it cools, the crystals match size from one to the other making uniformly sized crystals throughout the whole container. I found a creamed honey recipe that doesn't require heat and will maintain the integrity of the enzymes in the honey. I will let you know how it turns out and will have it on my web store for sale if it goes well!   

So in the end, know your source for raw honey. All of our honey is sold in the liquid state as it sells pretty quickly. Any small beekeeper will most likely be selling raw honey. They need your support to keep the bee population healthy and happy as it takes quite a bit of time and money to maintain honeybee hives. Always read the label and avoid the processed variety of "honey". 

You should be eating three tablespoons of honey a day for optimal health. If you take it at night before bed it also helps you get a great nights sleep! Your liver converts honey directly into glycogen, which fuels your brain during sleep. I'll have more on this and many other health benefits in my next post. Until then, keep supporting the bees, our lives depend on them.

With aloha, Linda

 

 

 

12 Head-To-Toe Honey Beauty Secrets

There are so many uses for honey besides enjoying its sweet taste. In this post I am going to go over the beauty benefits of raw honey.  Did you know that raw honey contains natural antioxidants that are great to treat wrinkles and aging skin? And the antibiotic properties of honey can be used to combat acne. Honey opens up and unclogs pores to help clarify your skin. It's a wonderful moisturizer that soothes sensitive skin. It was said to be favorite beauty product of Cleopatra. Listed below are a few ways to use raw honey in your natural beauty routine.

1) Honey Facial Mask - Make your skin glow with one simple ingredient!  Use a generous amount of raw honey and coat your whole face.  Let it remain for 5-20 minutes and rinse with warm water. You will be amazed at how your face feels afterwards.

2) Honey Spot Treatment - Here is another easy one, just put a dot of raw honey on a trouble spot for acne. Honey opens up pores, draws out impurities, and calms inflammation. It's amazing how fast it works! It's gentle and effective.

3) Honey & Almond Scrub - Put some raw almonds in a coffee grinder and mix half ground almonds and half raw honey together. Use it anywhere you want to exfoliate. I heard it said somewhere that you shouldn't put anything on your body that you wouldn't eat, and this one is pretty tasty!

4) Honey Scrub 2 - Mix 2 parts honey with 1 part baking soda for a fast facial scrub. You can also use it anywhere from head to toe to smooth and moisturize your skin.

5) Honey Bath Soak - Enjoy a relaxing bath with honey.  Just add up to 2 cups of raw honey to your bath. Your choice of essential oil fragrance can be added. You can also add a couple cups of milk, which help remove dead skin cells. Your skin will love this. Relax and enjoy!

6) Hair Rinse - Keep your hair healthy and shiny by rinsing with honey water.  I haven't tried this one yet, but I am going to as I am always trying every product there is for shiny smooth hair that comes on the market! Just mix 2 teaspoons of raw honey with 3 cups of water and a little bit of lemon juice and rinse your hair with it. Then style is as you usually would. I'll let you know if it works for me! 

7) Daily Honey Hair Infusion - Combine a teaspoon of raw honey with your regular shampoo on a daily basis to keep your hair healthy, moisturized, and shiny.

8) Sunburn Relief - Soothe and heal sunburns with raw honey.  Just dab it on for relief.

9) Minimize Scars - Apply raw honey to any scar you want to help fade faster and cover with a bandage before you go to bed each night. In the morning, just cleanse the area gently.

10) Nail Conditioner - Mix half raw honey with half apple cider vinegar and coat your cuticles and nails. Leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse for strengthened nails and softer cuticles.

11) After Shave Balm - Apply straight raw honey to shaved areas to prevent those unsightly bumps and boils that can appear after shaving. Leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse.

12) Lip Conditioner Scrub - Mix 1 teaspoon raw honey with 1 teaspoon brown sugar and a few drops of lemon juice and mix. Apply it to your lips for 10 minutes and then rub to exfoliate for smooth kissable lips!

I think everyone should just immerse their whole bodies in honey a few times a week! Honey is an amazing natural product. Not all honey is the same though, be sure to look for raw unfiltered honey to reap the benefits. Most mass marketed honey on the store shelves has been heated and highly filtered, which destroys active enzymes and removes beneficial nutrients.

I hope you all enjoyed this post. Let me know your results if your try any of them by posting a comment. I'll let you know how the hair rinse works!

With aloha, Linda

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White Pineapple Update

I am getting so excited for our white pineapple!  It grew a lot while we were on vacation.  It's still going to be a while before it's ripe though.  I will post another picture when it's harvest time.  It's getting a lot of suckers all around the fruit.  This is wonderful as each one will produce another pineapple pretty quickly.  When you plant the top of the fruit, which I will also do, it takes quite a bit longer for it to produce fruit.  Oh, Wendy asked if everyone was getting ready for her contest.  Be sure to "like" us on Facebook for your chance to win.  More details to follow in my next post.  Aloha!

White Pineapple

Time Lapse - East Coast Enlightenment

Aloha!  We just returned from a whirlwind trip to Arkansas, Washington DC, New York City and up the coast to Maine.  It is amazing to see what has changed on the farm in two short weeks.  When you don't look at something everyday change is more evident.  The white pineapple has gotten huge!  It still isn't ripe yet but it is looking like it will be a giant that weighs in around 5 pounds.  I'll let you know when it's ready and take pictures.

The macadamia nut trees are blooming again.  It has been a long season of bloom this year.  Sometimes they bloom all at once, and other years they kind of just keep going.  We harvested honey right before we left and it was mostly the lehua/wildflower blend this time.  No too much macadamia.  A few gallons of pure lehua was a bonus. 

In Little Rock, Arkansas, we stopped Bemis Tree Farm to see how their bees were doing (bemistreefarm.com).  They are doing great, they have just put in a few more hives and are setting up a large store for bee supplies. They have a huge tree farm and put in a pumpkin patch every year!  They were working on the store when we got there and we had a really nice visit with the owners.  It was strange to look at all the bee feeding supplies that are needed on the mainland.  We don't have to feed our bees in Hawaii as they don't have to winter over.  Something is always blooming for them to gather nectar from.

In Washington DC, we visited the National Arboretum, which was amazing!  I felt like we were home in Hawaii in the Orchid Room.  They also had a native Hawaiian plant room, which wasn't very large as most of our plants have been imported. When we were walking up on the second tier or the main greenhouse we came upon a sign that said "Look out the window".  They had set up a couple of honey bee hives and had a nice informational placard about them. 

In Maine, an acquaintance of the family had just lost all their hives during the winter, 25 of them.   I feel so lucky to be raising bees in paradise!  We have to battle the beetles, mites, and moths, but at least we don't have to worry about the winter months.  When we got home all our 25 hives were busy and healthy. 

I had better get to work picking up all the nuts that fell while I was gone!  A farmers work is never done.  I'll be getting back to you soon.  Wendy, our bossy hen, is dreaming up some contest for a sample pack of honey and candles.   She wants to pick the winning name from all the people who have "liked" our Facebook page.  I'll have to film that occasion for you.  Stay tuned!

Aloha, Linda

Inside the National Arboretum.

Inside the National Arboretum.

Bee hives on the arboretum roof. 

Bee hives on the arboretum roof. 

The Sweet Joys of Honey

Ahh, honey!  I never tire of the honey our bees make.  I enjoy it everyday and have replaced most other sugars in my diet with it.  I love it in my coffee, on toast, in lemonade, teriyaki sauce (Jim makes a mean teriyaki!), on pancakes, baked in banana bread, in yogurt, and even just eat it plain sometimes. The dark macadamia honey is my favorite, it has a real deep flavor to it.  It has been said that the darker the honey, the more antioxidants it contains. 

Besides just the great taste of honey, it can be used for medicinal purposes too.  If you have a sore throat, take a spoonful of honey and coat your mouth with it and let it drain slowly down your throat to give it a good coat.  Repeat several times an hour.  I had a bad sore throat that was moving around a lot, one day it was on one side, the next day the other.  I thought it was gone and I hadn't been using honey for it initially.  The next day it came back with a vengeance and I was so mad.  I hate to be sick.  I have a million things to do!  So, I decided to just sit and watch a few episodes of "Breaking Bad" while swigging honey a few times an hour.  It worked!  My sore throat was gone, and never returned.  The next time I even think one is coming on I am going to grab my honey!  I always keep a little 2 oz. bear in my purse at all times now, just in case. It's good for coughs too.

You can put it on pimples too, they go away really fast just by putting a little dab of honey on them.  Some people like to give themselves facials with honey.  There are recipes you can find if you Google it.  I just use it plain.  Seems to be working great so far.  I will let you know if anyone thinks I am getting any younger looking. :)

Raw honey has the most live enzyme content of any food. It also contains all the B complex vitamins, as well as vitamin C.  It also has minerals and trace elements, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.  Be sure to use raw honey, it hasn't been heated, which destroys the active beneficial enzymes. 

Our raw, unfiltered honey is only strained to 600 microns, which ensures the beneficial pollen and propolis are still in the honey.  We never heat or process our honey, it's pretty much straight from the hive! 

I hope you enjoy my journal, there are so many interesting things going on at the farm.  Let me know if there are any subjects you want me to address.  I would welcome your suggestions!

Aloha,  Linda

Pure 100% raw Hawaiian Puna Bear Honey.  The hibiscus wanted in the photo shoot this week! 

Pure 100% raw Hawaiian Puna Bear Honey.  The hibiscus wanted in the photo shoot this week! 


Uses for Beeswax

I have had a lot of people ask me what to do with pure beeswax.  I think everyone should have a piece hanging around the house as there are so many uses for it.  You can make a sticky drawer slide smoothly by rubbing a little beeswax on the runners.  I just did this with my chest of drawers and it worked great.  You can use it on doors and windows too. 

My coworker asked me for a block for an interesting purpose.  He puts a bit on the end of a screw to stick it to the screwdriver when you can't get your fingers into the right spot to hold the screw.  That way you can just aim the stuck-on screw into the hole and insert.  Coating a screw or nail with beeswax also makes it so the wood won't splinter.  You can coat your tools in beeswax to prevent rust also. 

It also has many uses in cosmetics.  I am going start making some lip balm that I will have for sale.  There are also many lotion and body cream recipes I am looking at.

Candles - of course!  The beeswax candle does not create harmful smoke when burned and doesn't drip.  It also burns longer than petroleum based waxes.

Sealing jars of jam is also another use for beeswax.  Coating thread with beeswax makes sewing easier and the thread last longer.

On the art front, you can make batik print fabric and Ukrainian eggs with beeswax.  You can also make your own crayons.

Do you know where the phrase "It's none of your beeswax" comes from?  Letters used to be sealed with beeswax to make sure no one read your mail before you did.

So there you have it, just a few of the many uses of beeswax.  Google it sometime, you will be amazed at what you can do with it.

Aloha!  Linda

My gardenia and Pikake jasmine just had to get their photos taken with the beeswax.  They are in full bloom right now and make the yard smell heavenly!

My gardenia and Pikake jasmine just had to get their photos taken with the beeswax.  They are in full bloom right now and make the yard smell heavenly!

The White Pineapple

I am so excited for our white pineapple to ripen. These are the most delicious pineapples ever!  They are sweet with no tartness to them at all. The flesh is very lightly colored. This one happened to be planted when we moved here and was really small for a long time. All the sudden the leaves started getting bigger and soon it was 4' tall.  I kept anxiously awaiting for it to bloom, which it finally did a couple of months ago.  Now it is halfway there, it is going to be a huge one.  I will take pictures again when we harvest it and I will show you what the inside looks like.  Here are pictures of its progress.

Aloha,  Linda

The beginning of flowering.

The beginning of flowering.

The purple petals are out.

The purple petals are out.

All done flowering, now it will get bigger and ripen. Yum!

All done flowering, now it will get bigger and ripen. Yum!

Candle Making

The wax pile was building up since Jim made a new solar wax melter, so it was time to make something out of it.  I have been melting wax and making votive candles and wax rounds (and a new hexagon) over the weekend.  They came out really well, you can take a look at them in the store.  I think I will look for some more interesting candle molds to add.  I am definitely going to get some tea lights in the future.  I'll let you know what I come up with. 

Aloha!