Specialty Food News Thinks Our Honey is The Bees Knees

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The Bees Knees of Honey

The Bees Knees of Honey

Not your average supermarket honeys, these raw and minimally processed products—sourced from around the country and the world—get their complex flavors from the local terroir where the bees feed.

Photography by Mark Ferri; Food styled by Leslie Orlandini; Props styled by Fran Matalon-Degni

by Nicole Potenza Denis

Product Roundup: Honey

Here are 10 products to consider:

Airborne Honey for Kids: For more than a century, Airborne has been operating apiaries in New Zealand producing flavorful and fragrant floral honeys, such as Clover, and healthful honeys, such as the intensely flavored manuka that is high in antioxidants and prebiotics. Airborne Honey for Kids is mild in flavor, making it more palatable for little ones. It also sports a unique cap with a cutoff valve to avoid sticky messes or spills; the honey comes out only when the bottle is squeezed. Airborne donates 10 cents from every bottle sold to the Cholmondeley, a charity that provides short-term care for children in need. airborne.co.nz

Bella Cucina Lime Blossom Honey: The bees that make Lime Blossom Honey hail from Alba, an organic farming region in northwestern Piedmont, Italy. In the summer months the bees pollinate the flowers of the Tilia Platyphyllos tree, better known as the large-leaved lime tree that grows on lime-rich soil. Neither pasteurized nor micro-filtered, the honey is dense and crystallized, with bright, bold flavors and subtle hints of mint that make it a great accomaniment to herbal tea or fresh fruit. It can be drizzled over fresh ricotta cheesecake or served as a cheese condiment with a rich, smoky blue cheese. Other flavors in the Bella Cucina Organic Artisan Collection include Acacia Flower and Chestnut Blossom Honey. bellacucina.com

Catskill Provisions Wildflower Honey: Catskill Provisions’ motto is: “Happy bees make better honey.” Located in the high-altitude Catskill Mountains in New York State, this company produces 100 percent pure, never- heated, raw Wildflower honey. Owner Claire Marin, who turned her beekeeping hobby into a business, harvests a spring honey, which bears the aromas of pear, apple and clover, and a darker autumn honey, with flavors of chestnut and maple. Catskill Provisions honey is featured at many farm-to-table restaurants in New York City and in artisanal cheese and specialty grocery stores across the state. The light honey pairs well with ricotta cheese and yogurt, while the darker honey stands up well to stronger goat cheeses. catskillprovisions.com

Etruria Gourmet Honeydew Honey: The bees that produce this raw organic honey in Central Italy are harvesting not floral nectar but honeydew, the sugar-rich, sticky secretions of aphids that feed on plant sap. Dark and almost black in color, this Honeydew honey emits a fragrance of stewed fruit or molasses and is rich in antioxidants, protein and healthful mineral salts. A standout at a cheese or deli counter, it best complements blue cheeses, pâtés and other charcuterie. Etruria Gourmet also produces Certified Organic Chestnut and Thousand Flowers honey, as well as honey vinegars obtained by double fermentation. etruriagourmet.com

Grampa’s Gourmet Desert Wildflower Honey: A particularly wet year in the Chiricahua desert on the border of New Mexico and Arizona made way for this special honey. Fifth-generation beekeeper Bret Edelen brought his bees here to produce a rare pure mesquite honey. But the excess winter moisture caused some unusual wildflowers to bloom, resulting in this mesquite wildflower honey. This very thick honey is buttery and light, with aromas of baked fruit and coffee, making it perfect for sharp cheddars or blues. To ensure top quality, Edelen follows sustainable farming practices, avoids GMOs and uses integrated pest management whenever possible. grampashoney.com

Honey Ridge Farms Black Button Sage Honey: Produced in the coastal ranges of California only four out of every 10 years, Black Button Sage Honey has a complex sweet, clover-like flavor with herbal overtones and a lingering floral and herbal aftertaste. This honey has a non-granulating quality and never crystallizes, making it pour-ready in its convenient squeeze bottle—perfect for soft cheese such as mascarpone or ricotta. All Honey Ridge Farms single-sourced floral varietals—which also include Wild Blackberry, Star Thistle and Pumpkin Blossom from the Pacific Northwest and Orange Blossom from California—are minimally processed: gently warmed, strained and never filtered, preserving the flavor and natural nutrients. The company also makes a honey balsamic vinegar from 100 percent honey; a portion of the profits help fund research to promote bee-colony health. honeyridgefarms.com

Mellona Divine Honey Spread Carob: On the southern coast of Cyprus, among citrus and olive groves and vineyards, bees are hard at work pollinating various flora that will result in a blend of blossom honey from varieties of Mediterranean herbs. This family-owned company blends its creamy raw honeys with ingredients indigenous to Cyprus, such as carobs, grapes, almonds and hazelnuts. Blended with traditional haroupomelo (carob syrup), Mellona’s Carob Honey spread has notes of chocolate. It can be drizzled over ricotta or yogurt or blended into hot coffee or tea. mellona.com.cy

Royal Hawaiian Honey Organic Wililaiki Blossom Honey (formerly Christmas Berry): Bees on the Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii pollinate the Christmas berry shrub from August to October to create a raw, light amber-color honey with undertones of brown sugar and molasses. Rich in antioxidants, this robust honey is certified organic by the Hawaii Organic Farmers Association. Royal Hawaiian honeys are certified carbon neutral: Through a partnership with carbonfund.org, the producer offsets 100 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the production and shipping of the honey by investing in carbon-reducing projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation. This honey’s multi-dimensional taste and texture makes it suitable for tangy goat cheeses or a ham glaze. royalhawaiianhoney.com

Savannah Bee Company Peace Honey: In partnership with Heifer International—a global nonprofit whose mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty sustainably—Savannah Bee Company purchases and packages this tropical honey from community beekeeping cooperative projects in Honduras. Bottled under Savannah Bee’s Peace Honey brand, this Honduran rainforest honey is softly sweet with earthy notes. Peace Honey is KSA Kosher Certified. An appropriate companion for pretzel sticks or an unexpected accent in an exotic fruit salad, it also makes a great gift that gives back. For each bottle sold, Savannah Bee Company donates $3 to Heifer International. savannahbee.com

Tropical Blossom Tropical Wild Honey: This honey is a blend of gallberry (a type of shrub in the holly family) and saw palmetto honey from Florida’s piney woods and Everglades—areas that are not cultivated, fertilized or tainted with pesticides—and is neither filtered nor cooked. Tropical Wild Honey retains natural pollens and enzymes making it rich in antioxidants. The gallberry mellows out the honey’s sweetness giving it a more balanced flavor with a spicy finish. It is ideal for baking or to add subtle sweetness to hot beverages. Tropical Blossom began hand-packing its Florida honeys in 1940 and is now one of the leading U.S. suppliers of honey with honeycomb. tropicbeehoney.com |SFM|

Nicole Potenza Denis is a contributing editor to Specialty Food Magazine.

About Rebeca Krones

Rebeca Krones, Owner, Tropical Traders Specialty Foods My love of food began while growing up in Costa Rica and the rainforest of Peru, where I was exposed to many varieties of exotic fruits, vegetables and cuisine. My dad, Michael Krones, was a beekeeper back then and still is. When I was 16 my family and I spent two years living and sailing on a boat, and I was the designated cook as we traveled from San Francisco, CA, down the coast of Mexico and eventually to the Hawaiian Islands. This experience taught me a lot about sourcing local foods and ingredients. After earning a degree in Art History from Oberlin College in Ohio, I worked at several fine arts museums and galleries before returning to my love of food while working at Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, CA. I founded Tropical Traders with the intention of introducing the incredible honeys my dad produces to other people. My unique life experiences have made this possible. Aloha!
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