The many Flavors of Honey

April 11, 2016 | By

Single varietal honeys are creating quite a buzz in the gourmet food scene these days, but this trend is nothing new to beekeepers. Honey is a natural product that has always been highly dependent on the local environment in which the bees gather their nectar. Much like wine regions and coffee regions, different honey regions also exist.

For the first time in the history of apiculture, beekeepers are now being encouraged by food connoisseurs to situate their hives in areas that will allow honey bees to frequent one particular plant. The hope is that these insects will then produce a unique flavor that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.

Perhaps the first and most popular flavor to be recognized in Canada is Buckwheat Honey, which is a really dark honey with a VERY distinctive taste and aroma. Harvested in mid august, the buckwheat plant blossoms for about ten days before going to seed in the fall. Unfortunately not many Canadian farmers grow buckwheat anymore, and so this highly coveted product is becoming very rare indeed. When beekeepers spy a field of buckwheat that’s about to bloom they quickly move a dozen hives as close as possible. Unlike wild flowers that grow randomly in meadows and fence rows, farmer’s fields are the best places to harvest single varietal honey crops. Here’s a huge concentrated source, and to ensure purity professional apiculturalists will harvest each flow as soon as possible before other flowering plants dilute the taste.

The most interesting single varietal honey crop harvested in Ontario Canada has to be something called Purple Loosestrife. Botanists may be familiar with this plant, which is quite controversial. It originated in Asia and appeared in Canada about twenty years ago. Since that time it has invaded and subsequently dominated of most of the province’s wetland. Natural lovers and bird watchers fear it’s destroying the marshes and have organized armies of high school students to pull these plants right out of the ground and thereby SAVE THE SWAMPS. Beekeepers however, love this plant with its roots firmly embedded in the quagmire it always flowers, even in the driest years, and it yields a marvelous tasting honey with a very interesting tang it’s a single varietal honey with a complicated taste. When preserved in glass, Purple Loosestrife Honey has a slight greenish blue tint.

American Beekeepers are proud of their Pumpkin Blossom Honey which is a dark amber-colored liquid with a robust aroma and flavor. And California’s Black Button Sage Honey is absolutely excellent when served with vanilla ice cream. And of course the savanna region’s Tupelo Honey is probably the most famous varietal honey of them all. Harvested for two weeks in the early spring, tupelo nectar is one of the rarest and most valuable liquid resources in the world.

Yes, the golden age of gourmet honey has finally arrived, and North American consumers owe it to their taste buds to ignore Billy Bee’s plastic tubs in the supermarket ( their cheap Argentinean Chinese blend is practically inedible anyway ) and sample a single varietal honey from a local beekeeper in their area.

Category: Food

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