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What's your favorite variety of honey?


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Okay, a heads-up for all the honeyphiles here: I am currently working on a book titled Robbing the Bees: a Biography of Honey, by Holley Bishop. Free Press (part of Simon & Schuster) is the publisher. Rarely have I worked on such an enjoyable, well-written, fact-filled book! All sorts of information about the history of bees, bee-keeping, honey production (by bees and humans), the use of bees in warfare . . . and I'm only a little more than halfway through it. The recipes included are both ancient and modern. I suppose it will be out sometime next spring.

I never thought much about the stuff before (other than finding that leatherwood is just too strong a flavor for my palate), but now I'm fascinated.

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Despite Suzanne's disdain for the stuff, I really like keeping a tin of Tasmanian leatherwood honey on hand:

http://earthy.com/a_gourmet_honey.htm?EDI=...c6190e3099caad9

Luckily, I have a couple local sources. I also buy a lot of honeys at farms and farmer markets and gourmet shops while I travel. I don't think it matters that much what type, but just to have a couple types in addition to your basic commercial clover honey.

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I recently tasted a delicious artisinal honey made by a gentleman here in the Philadelphia suburbs (ironically his surname is Buzas) that was served on the side of a cheese plate I ordered at Tria. Delicious. Subtle, sweet, but not sickly-so as many more ordinary and supermarket examples tend to be.

My best honey story comes when I was driving around between Napa and Sonoma and saw a sign at the side of the road that said "Honey". We pulled down the long dirt driveway and found a table with jars of on-the-premise made honey and a coffee can that was completely on the honor system. It remains to this day, some of the most delicious honey I'd ever tasted.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I love the dark, slightly bitter honeys. The French miel de sapin, which is a pine honey, and chestnut honey are my very favorites, but I like the Tasmanian leatherwood a lot too. Our local "garden variety" honey is blackberry, which is nice, although light and mild.

Whenever I travel I bring back honey, to remember places by. My cupboard is full of my honey stash - little bottles from everywhere.

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  • 2 weeks later...

story from the Telegraph UK

A related story on honey has appeared only today .. it appears that there are not enough queen bees around nowadays ...

Already struggling to keep up with demand for their sweet, sticky product, Britain's bees are facing a new crisis – a shortage of queens ...each bee makes 60 flights to produce a thimble of honey. They literally work themselves to death, dying around six weeks after they have hatched, their wings tattered and torn by their efforts.  It is different for the queen, which lives for around three years. Her pheromones are strong enough to keep the colony (around 100,000 bees in the working season) together, but as her powers diminish, so does the loyalty of the workforce. "You can never raise enough queens early enough in the season, so we have them sent from Hawaii in April," says Chambers. This was until the EU banned the import of queens from the islands in December. "They included Hawaii as part of the US although it's 2,000 miles from the mainland."

This may only partially explain why the cost of honey has been rising ... :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Okay, a heads-up for all the honeyphiles here: I am currently working on a book titled Robbing the Bees: a Biography of Honey, by Holley Bishop. Free Press (part of Simon & Schuster) is the publisher. Rarely have I worked on such an enjoyable, well-written, fact-filled book! All sorts of information about the history of bees, bee-keeping, honey production (by bees and humans), the use of bees in warfare . . . and I'm only a little more than halfway through it. The recipes included are both ancient and modern. I suppose it will be out sometime next spring.

I never thought much about the stuff before (other than finding that leatherwood is just too strong a flavor for my palate), but now I'm fascinated.

I wish I could get this story from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Last year we had a case of "beenapping" in the area. Unfortunately the man to whom it happened will not talk about it.

A local bee man who has been providing bees for orchard owners for many years found some of his hives abandoned when he was retrieving them at the end of the flowering season.

Apparently another bee person, instead of simply buying bees was sneaking into the orchards at night when the bees were inactive, transferring the queen to a hive in the back of his truck and waiting until sunup for the remaining bees to leave the hive and follow the scent to the new hive.

He also had vandalized the first bee man's hives that had been set out in an area within sight of the 14 freeway. He had thrown a chain around several of the hives, shut himself in his truck and then drove away, dragging those hives into others.

He was caught when someone recalled seeing a guy loading a large chain into the bed of a pickup truck not too far from where the vandalism took place.

Strange what some people will do. I don't think there is all that much money to be made in honey, unless one has a huge operation.

The honey from Buell's farm (which nearly burned in a recent wildfire) is very good, I buy it by the gallon for my holiday baking.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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My favourite is Greek brand called 'Attiki'. It's quite mild and everyone seem to like this.

I like loukoumades (yeast doughnuts) with plenty of honey & cinnamon on top. I also make Marcella Hazan's 'carciofi sott'olio with honey' when artichokes are in season.

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Is chestnut honey produced anywhere in the US? Or has our tree epidemic wiped out the producing agents?

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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I quite like honey I have a few types in the house:

Mesquite honey from a trip to the US

Chestnut honey from Chinati - not that sweet and quite bitter, very good with fresh pecorino

Forest flowers from Chianti - quite floral, not suprisingly.

Italian strawberry tree honey - very perfumed, similar to Tasmanian Leatherwood, bit more macho.

Tasmanian Leatherwood - very aromatic

English Bluebell honey - quite light

Sunflower honey - again light in flavour, but an incredible golden colour

Scottish Heather honey - possibly the best of the lot

Australian Yellow Box honey - caramel toffee flavours

Spanish orange blossom - tastes like what it is.

Couple of Middle Eastern honeys, no idea about varieties

During the childhood my uncles would sometimes rob a few wild hives, the honey bearing combs were put into muslin bags, this was hung from a rafter and the drips were collected. This not quite honey, not quite nectar is possibly the sweetest thing I have ever had.

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When I posted earlier I forgot to mention my favorite honey.

It is a local sage/wildflower honey sold by a beeman in Lacaster that has a permit (very hard to get) to put his hives out in the Desert Plant Preserve area. This area is protected because some very rare wildflowers grow only in that area (as well as a wonderful display of California poppies in the early spring) People come from all over the world to photograph the wildflowers in this spot.

The honey is very aromatic and quite dark in color, almost the color of maple syrup.

You can tell what it is the moment you open the container. It is unlike any other honey, certainly nothing like any other sage honey I have tried.

The bees gather pollen and nectar from the native desert sage, also known as Cleveland sage, which is a beautiful plant with some of the largest (larger than 1 inch across) and most complex flowers of any sage. (And the flowers have a wonderful scent.)

See it here.

I have a beautiful specimen plant in my front yard that is more than five feet tall and 7 feet across.

Unlike the wild plants, mine is cut back after the spring flowering (we save the stems with the seed heads because they are lovely in dried flower arrangements) and will get a second flowering in late September.

I have two pineapple sage plants on either side of the Cleveland and the right red trumpet flowers of the pineapple, contrasted with the Cleveland is spectacular. It is a busy place for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds when they are in bloom.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 3 years later...
I recently tasted a delicious artisinal honey made by a gentleman here in the Philadelphia suburbs (ironically his surname is Buzas) that was served on the side of a cheese plate I ordered at Tria.  Delicious.  Subtle, sweet, but not sickly-so as many more ordinary and supermarket examples tend to be.

Katie, ask Mr, Buzas if he is Hungarian... because buzas means Wheaty ...

robi

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I am a huge fan of manuka honey from NZ which aside from having a fantastic flavour has interesting health benefits.

(boring bit now ha)

All honey has some level of the antibacterial chemical hydrogen peroxide, which is produced by enzymes in the honey. These enzymes are easily destroyed by exposure to heat and light and also by contact with body fluids. Manuka honey has an antibacterial action that is separate to the peroxide effect, resulting in a much more persistent and stable antibacterial action, great for wound treatment. The honey also has a synergistic antibacterial effect with the hydrogen peroxide activity, producing a very powerful weapon against bacterial conditions....at first the benefits were thought to be strictly 'homeopathic' but lab testing has confirmed the antibacterial benefits...

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Another manuka honey fan here - for its delicious flavor. I brought some back from a trip to New Zealand and have continued to purchase it here.

I also love to bring honey back from a trip and remember my travels with a cup of honey-sweetened tea.

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I am a big fan of the Tazmanian Leatherwood honey. It has complexity that I have not found in other honeys. It has a bit of Funk, good Funk, that brings to mind Marachino liqueur, or the noble rot of a dessert wine. Its dear, but easy to get at whole Foods. So good in rum hot toddies!

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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A large local organic distributor for Honey is located here in Eugene, OR. They bring honey in from sources throughout the world. In addition they are very knowledgeable regarding all aspects of the bee. The owner Dick Turanski is presently working on developing bee keeping in various parts of Africa. Dick has been in the bee and honey business for over thirty years. They could be a resource for your book if you need one.

http://www.glorybeefoods.com/gbf/

Edited by duck833 (log)
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A quart of Blueberry honey bought in southern New Jersey at a roadside berry farm where they produced it. Very pleasant

Pine Tree honey from Turkey. Almost maple like to me.....it's thick and tan and sparkly as it comes out of its plastic sqeeze tube. The tube is a real plus for those of us who cart the sticky treat home from wherever. With the 3 oz. rule it gets kind of scary to put a jar in suitcase. Before that many times I dragged my hefty honey backpack through airports.......while DH says "don't we have honey at home?"

Of course we do, western NY has lots of local honey producers.....spring flowers is a favorite type. But I think we've been hit hard (in both honey and pollination) by the dead hive problem.

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I have a jar of "petits fleurs" honey from the south of France near Toulouse. The gentleman who collected it told me it was mainly chestnut, but not enough chestnut to put that on the label. It is pretty strongly flavored, but I really like it. This Christmas on a side trip we picked up a jar of gallberry honey at the Okefenokee swamp gift shop. That's definitely a south Georgia/north Florida specialty. We had it when I was growing up.

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  • 1 year later...

An article on honey laundering (what a funny name) from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on 2008-12-20.

Some highlights:

For years, China has used an animal antibiotic -- chloramphenicol -- to treat diseases ravaging their beehives. The FDA has banned that drug in any food product.

Since 2002, FDA has issued three "import alerts" to inspectors at ports and border crossings to detain shipments of tainted Chinese honey. The order in 2002 came after Canadian and European food-safety agents seized more than 80 shipments containing chloramphenicol, which can cause serious illness or death among a very small percentage of people exposed to it.

Big shipments of contaminated honey from China are frequently laundered in other countries -- an illegal practice called "transshipping" -- in order to avoid U.S.import fees, protective tariffs or taxes imposed on foreign products that intentionally undercut domestic prices.

In a series of shipments in the past year, tons of honey produced in China passed through the ports of Tacoma and Long Beach, Calif., after being fraudulently marked as a tariff-free product of Russia.

While per capita consumption of honey in America is 1.1 pounds per year, the country produces only about 190 million pounds of the 450 million pounds consumed.

And demand keeps rising. Brokers say the retail market hasn't changed much in the last several years, but use of honey as an ingredient in other products has grown.

I like honey (I got some New Zealand stuff my cousin sent me) but I definitely don't consume 1.1 lbs a year. A lot of this is probably stuff like cereal such as Honey Bunches of Oats, which I don't eat either.

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Guardian UK article on new honey
The cosy-sounding world of honey - redolent of toasted crumpets and jars with flowery labels in country shops - has been going through turbulent times..... another phenomenon has been adding to the turbulence in the global honey market - ultrafiltered or "UF" honey. First noticed in the US, it is honey with almost everything taken out, including the impurities. .... In a test by the board earlier this year, nine out of 69 samples taken from American supermarket shelves proved to be UF honey. Instead it is "a sweetener derived from honey" - honey that has been diluted with gallons of water, heated up to a high temperature, passed through an ultra-fine ceramic or carbon filter, and then evaporated down to a syrup again. America's believes that UF, rather than contaminated honey, is now the real threat to the purity of honey internationally.

So, the world has more problems that we have yet to fret over and now it is about the honeys .. but, never you mind, this is about a simple, very sweet, sticky issue: what is your favorite type of honey? and what do you use it for? or use it as an ingredient for making? :rolleyes:

Personally enjoy clover and orange blossom honeys ... and you??

Clover, wildflower, orange blossom, chestnut, lavender - probably in that order. Good question!

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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I always used to bring home honey from trips. Now it is harder since it has to go in checked luggage. Potential for a big mess. I now carry some bubble wrap with me to protect it. Right now I am using a Turkish "pine" honey which came in a plastic tube, sort of like a toothpaste tube. Very convenient and very tasty.

Locally I buy "hard" (crystalized) honey at the local natural foods co-op. Just dip out a big chunk and drop it into your container. I think it is a mixed flower honey, and to me, being crystalized makes the taste very nice. If I want it liquid I just heat it up. But for spreading on toast, or using in tea, it is great.

Very sad to hear of the troubles of the bees, I hope we have enough for our local apples and other fruits.

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