The Many Tastes of Honey

 

Honey is one of those wonderful products of nature that is enjoyed all over the world. The hard work of the honey bees gives us the perfect ingredient for appetizers and entrees, desserts and drinks alike. And it’s benefits are not just for consuming – honey makes a wonderful ingredient in skin and hair products, to soothe sore throats and coughs, and heal wounds, cuts, scrapes and burns.

Busy Bee
Busy Bee

 

After attending an incredible honey tasting provided by the National Honey Board we got so excited about what we learned, we thought we’d share some of our sweet discoveries with you.

There are more than 300 varieties of honey in the United States, thousands around the world. What makes the variety is the floral sources that the honey bees gather the nectar from. Some varieties you might be familiar with include clover, orange blossom and sage. But did you know that there are varieties from such other blossoms as pumpkin, avocado, silkweed, chestnut, alfalfa and many more? Each type has its own distinct taste, which can range from mild to floral to fruity to strong and spicy. It’s quite a bit like wine once you start to compare. Which leads to our next discovery…

Fabulous Tasting
Fabulous Tasting

 

Honey goes great in cheese pairings, just like wine. We met Marie  Simmons, the award-winning author of over 20 cookbooks, including the wonderful Taste of Honey who provided us with some insights into pairings to show us how they work.

Marie Simmons
Marie Simmons

 

We discovered that Sicilian orange blossom and Lavendar varieties pair well with one of our favorite cheeses – Burrata! We tasted a rich avocado honey, which pairs well with chocolate, and a deeply malty buckwheat one, which goes well with things like sweet potatoes and winter squash. Our favorite taste was the Tupelo paired with a buttered cracker. Tupelo is a floral variety considered a labor of love by producers as it is gathered from beehives along river swamps particularly in the Gulf Coast region of the southern United States.

Pairing Just Like Wines
Pairing Just Like Wines

 

Some uses of honey in drink recipes are worth noting too. Think about adding some to lemon juice and gin for a Bee’s Knees cocktail, cream and white rum for a Bee’s Kiss or Cachaca, ginger liqueur and lime juice for a tasty twist on the Caipirinha. There are many possibilities, including the delicious Austin Honey Sour we tasted with Vodka, honey simple syrup and lemon juice.

Austin Honey Sour
Austin Honey Sour

 

The most important thing to remember about honey is that it is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. A single hard-working bee produces about 1/12 of a tablespoon of honey in its entire lifetime. Bees pick up pollen as they travel from flower to flower in search of nectar, and in doing so, pollinate our crops. They are an essential participant in the natural world, and so it is critically important that we become aware of and act to prevent the dangers affecting bee populations, including pesticides and fungicides.

Hardworking Bees Need Our Help
Hardworking Bees Need Our Help

 

Now that you know a bit more about honey, we hope you will experiment with it more fully in your own kitchens and seek it out in your tastes of travel. We also urge you to support your local beekeepers and share your appreciation of  bees with others.

For more information about honey and bees as well as recipes and ideas, visit the National Honey Board, Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, and HoneyO websites.

THE QUICK BITE: Honey is one of those wonderful products of nature that is enjoyed all over the world. We’ve learned a lot about its many facets and tastes  and want to share our discoveries with you.

 

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