Though science is far from conclusive on this front, many homeopaths think there may be another (edible) option. Some allergy battlers have found that an old folk remedy of eating local honey can help reduce the severity of their reactions. The logic goes like this: bees in an area collect nectar from the same plants that cause allergies, and honey produced from that nectar contains microscopic quantities of the allergens. By consuming small amounts of the honey, sufferers may be administering a form of homespun immunotherapy.
Others dispute the effectiveness of this treatment, and even its supporters acknowledge that honey isn't an instant fix. Traditionally, allergy sufferers consume small amounts of it every day for an extended period of time in order to build up resistance to allergens. (Some even warn that local honey can actually set off reactions. Be sure to check with your doctor if you are considering this method of handling allergies.)
This is all a long way of saying that we have a delectable honey liqueur recipe for the allergic and the resistant alike. Krupnikas, a delicious Eastern European liqueur made from spices, honey and grain alcohol, makes an aromatic, golden-hued tipple that can be drunk warm in the fall or on the rocks in the summer. With a spicy flavor and bright glow, it is a great way to celebrate the arrival of (a hopefully sneeze-free) spring.
Making Krupnikas(click thumbnails to view gallery)
10 cardamom seeds
1/2 nutmeg seed
3 strips orange rind
3 strips lemon rind
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
10 whole allspice berries
3 sticks cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split and cut into 2" pieces
A 4" piece of ginger cut into 1/4" rounds
A pinch of saffron
4 cups water
2 lbs. honey (you can use clover, but I like a richer flavor, like linden)
4 cups 190-proof grain alcohol
Crack the cardamom seeds and nutmeg. In a medium saucepan, bring all the spices, rinds, nutmeg and water to a boil over medium heat. Cover, leaving a crack for steam to escape, and lower temperature to medium low. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain out spices and set aside.
In a separate saucepan, bring honey to a boil. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Pour spice liquid into the honey, remove from heat, and place far away from any heat sources.
Slowly add alcohol. When finished, cover and return to low heat. Heat for 15 minutes, being careful to keep it from boiling or even simmering. Remove from heat and allow to sit overnight. In the morning, filter several times through two to three coffee filters and bottle. Enjoy!