Many of our farms cultivate honey and this Saturday you will have the opportunity to taste the flavor varieties inherent in honey production. September is National Beekeeping Month and much has been reported in the news about the decrease in the number of honeybees in America and the world. Bees are responsible for pollinating 80% of our flowering crops which constitute 1/3 of everything we eat. Losing them could affect not only dietary staples such as apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries, and cucumbers, but may threaten our beef and dairy industries if alfalfa is not available for feed.
Besides being sweet and delicious, there are many health benefits to eating local honey. If you have a sore throat, take some honey. Honey has powerful antimicrobial properties that can soothe your raw tissues. Due to its natural anti-inflammatory effect, it will help heal the wound more quickly. Did you know honey can help ease a sore stomach and aid hydration? Honey is also a natural antiseptic and has been used to treat wounds for hundreds of years. It can kill bacteria in and around a wound. Local honey has long been identified as helping allergies. The small amount of pollen in the honey can help build up a tolerance.
The color and flavor of honeys differ depending on the nectar source (the blossoms) visited by the honey bees. In fact, there are more than 300 unique types of honey available in the United States, each originating from a different floral source. Honey color ranges from nearly colorless to dark brown, and its flavor varies from delectably mild to distinctively bold, depending on where the honey bees buzzed. As a general rule, light-colored honey is milder in taste and dark-colored honey is stronger.
Wildflower honey is often used to describe honey from miscellaneous and undefined flower sources. Clover honey has a pleasing, mild taste. Clovers contribute more to honey production in the United States than any other group of plants. Red clover, Alsike clover and the white and yellow sweet clovers are most important for honey production. Depending on the location and type of source clover, clover honey varies in color from water white to light amber to amber.
A bottle of pure honey contains the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants or secretions of living parts of plants. Nothing else. When scientists begin to look for all of the elements found in this wonderful product of nature, they find a complex of naturally flavored sugars as well as trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids.
Honey is made by bees in one of the world’s most efficient facilities, the beehive. The 60,000 or so bees in a beehive may collectively travel as much as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey!
Most of us know honey as a sweet, golden liquid. However, honey can be found in a variety of forms.
Comb honey is honey in its original form; that is, honey inside of the honeycomb. The beeswax comb is edible!
Cut comb honey is liquid honey that has added chunks of the honeycomb in the jar. This is also known as a liquid-cut comb combination.
Free of visible crystals, liquid honey is extracted from the honeycomb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, it’s especially convenient for cooking and baking. Most of the honey produced in the United States is sold in the liquid form.
NATURALLY CRYSTALLIZED HONEY
Naturally crystallized honey is honey in which part of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized. It is safe to eat.
WHIPPED (OR CREMED) HONEY
While all honey will crystallize in time, whipped honey (also known as cremed honey) is brought to market in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter or jelly. In many countries around the world, whipped honey is preferred to the liquid form especially at breakfast time.
Honey is produced in every state, but depending on floral source location, certain types of honey are produced only in a few regions. Honey is also produced in most countries of the world.
Following is a look at some of the most common U.S. honey floral varieties. To learn more about available types of honey in your area, contact a local beekeeper, beekeeping association or honey packer. For help finding a honey packer or a specific floral source, visit the Honey Locator.
Alfalfa honey, produced extensively throughout Canada and the United States from the purple blossoms, is light in color with a pleasingly mild flavor and aroma.
Avocado honey is gathered from California avocado blossoms. Avocado honey is dark in color, with a rich, buttery taste.
Taken from the tiny white flowers of the blueberry bush, the nectar makes a honey which is typically light amber in color and with a full, well-rounded flavor. Blueberry honey is produced in New England and in Michigan.
Buckwheat honey is dark and full-bodied. It is produced in Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well as in eastern Canada. Buckwheat honey has been found to contain more antioxidant compounds than some lighter honeys.
Clover honey has a pleasing, mild taste. Clovers contribute more to honey production in the United States than any other group of plants. Red clover, Alsike clover and the white and yellow sweet clovers are most important for honey production. Depending on the location and type of source clover, clover honey varies in color from water white to light amber to amber.
Eucalyptus honey comes from one of the larger plant genera, containing over 500 distinct species and many hybrids. As may be expected with a diverse group of plants, eucalyptus honey varies greatly in color and flavor but tends to be a stronger flavored honey with a slight medicinal scent. It is produced in California.
Fireweed honey is light in color and comes from a perennial herb that creates wonderful bee pasture in the Northern and Pacific states and Canada. Fireweed grows in the open woods, reaching a height of three to five feet and spikes attractive pinkish flowers.
Orange blossom honey, often a combination of citrus sources, is usually light in color and mild in flavor with a fresh scent and light citrus taste. Orange blossom honey is produced in Florida, Southern California and parts of Texas.
Sage honey, primarily produced in California, is light in color, heavy bodied and has a mild but delightful flavor. It is extremely slow to granulate, making it a favorite among honey packers for blending with other honeys to slow down granulation.
Tupelo honey is a premium honey produced in northwest Florida. It is heavy-bodied and is usually light golden amber with a greenish cast and has a mild, distinctive taste. Because of the high fructose content in Tupelo honey, it granulates very slowly.
Wildflower honey is often used to describe honey from miscellaneous and undefined flower sources.
While different types of honey are available, most honey, especially honey supplied in bulk, is blended to create a unique and consistent taste and color.
Stir-fried pork in sticky, sweet honey-ginger sauce is a quick and easy meal that’s made for busy weeknights.
1/4 cup – honey
2 tablespoons – soy sauce
2 teaspoons – cornstarch or tapioca starch
2 inches (about 2 teaspoons) – fresh ginger, grated
4 – garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons – grapeseed oil, or other neutral cooking oil
1 pound – pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) – green beans, trimmed and cut in half
cooked brown rice for serving
In a small dish, combine the honey, soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger, and garlic. Set aside.
Add the oil to a large skillet or wok set over high heat. When hot, add the pork. Cook, stirring frequently until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Push the pork the sides of the pan; add the green beans to the center. Cook, stirring frequently until the beans and pork are cooked through, another 3-5 minutes.
Stir the sauce into the pan; cook 1 minute. Immediately remove from heat.
Serve over brown rice.