In late 2017, Anya Corson started her fermented honey business around her mother’s dining room table.
“We grew up with Shabbat dinners and holidays always around this table and all the wonderful conversations and things that have happened around this table,” said Corson, 42, who grew up attending Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel. “It’s so fitting that this is also where this business was born.”
A St. Louis native living in Olivette, Corson first became interested in fermented honey because of her daughter’s food allergies. She wanted a way to improve her daughter’s gut health as well as help her to get more vegetables into her diet.
“I had read about fermented honey and (how) they had put garlic in it,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Oh, that sounds wonderful, I wonder how that works.’ It all started from there.”
To make her fermented honey sauce, Corson starts by adding raw vegetables to the raw honey. That small amount of added moisture activates the wild yeast already present in the honey and begins fermentation. The honey begins to ferment in the first 24 hours, and Corson allows the fermentation to continue for three to six months.
However, it took a process of trial and error to learn how long to ferment the honey to get the correct flavor profile and probiotic cultures.
“My closets were filled with gallon jars,” Corson’s mother, Deborah Zorensky, said of her daughter’s early experiements. “I probably had 30 or 50 gallons of honey fermenting in my closets.”
Corson makes three types of fermented honey: garlic, red onion and jalapeno. Each sells for $11.99 a jar. Each 9-ounce jar contains only organic vegetables, honey and apple vinegar for preservation. All of the fermented honey is kosher certified as well as gluten, fat and sodium free.
Corson’s business, Anya’s Apothekere, has grown from those early experiments three years ago into a thriving enterprise. She’s selling to major grocery chains and on Amazon, as well as on her website. The honey is fermented in 100-gallon tanks and rotated by machines, a far cry from fermenting at home.
Most of her sales come from grocery chains, although when COVID-19 hit, many of them cut back on carrying nonessential products, which hurt Corson’s sales.
“But I’m happy to say we are still up and running,” she said.
Corson offers recipes on her website for how to cook with fermented honey, including recipes for jalapeño honey margaritas and honey glazed turkey. Brussels sprouts with fermented garlic honey are among her children’s favorites.
“My kids love Brussels sprouts,” she said. “It’s the one vegetable that both of my kids eat, they love it with the garlic honey, and it’s such an easy thing to make for them.”
Customers also write on Anya’s Apothekere’s Facebook page to talk about her fermented honey. Aime Wolver King posted: “I used the fermented honey with onion on my chili and it was amazing. Nice finish to the dish. Can’t wait to use the other fermented honey flavors. Thank you, Anya.”
In addition to fermented honey, Corson makes the Healthy Bone Soak and Botanikal Bath Soaks. She said the bone soaks are designed to help aching muscles and stiff joints.
“Doing any kind of crazy physical activity, like chasing kids around, I end up sore,” said Corson. “And the bone soak is just so amazing for healing sore muscles and bone.”
Corson has plans to expand her line of merchandise, but the new products are still being tested.
“We’re thinking, hopefully, 2021 we’ll be able to launch a new product that we’re super excited about,” she said. “We’re certainly planning on expanding both in the kitchen area and with our bath products.”
For more information, go to Anya’s Apothekere at anyasapothekere.com.