Monday, May 11, 2009

Honey Taste Test

It’s always amazing to me how different honeys can taste when you taste them back to back. I mean, I grew up with Clover Honey and when we moved to Florida, I sort of knew that Orange Blossom Honey was different, but I never really thought about it until I went to the South Florida Renaissance Festival a few years ago and devoted my whole attention to tasting the different honeys back to back. I bought a bunch, and then I didn’t think about it again.

Until lately, when I’ve been riddled with allergies and balancing on the edge of a sore throat.

Our last food drop gave me a bottle of Tupelo Honey, I bought my usual North Florida Wildflower Honey downtown, and when we cleaned out the kitchen recently, we found all the tail ends we had lying around: standard Clover in the little bear jars, Killer Bee and  Heather from the Bee Folk, Buckwheat from the Scratch and Dent, and a little bit of West Virginia Wildflower from our trip through to Ohio. Here’s a not very pretty picture of all the honeys we have:


(that’s, from top and the crystallized one and moving clockwise: Clover, Tupelo, Buckwheat, Local Wildflower, WV Wildflower, Killer Bee and Heather in the center.)

My personal opinions: Clover is standard honey, but in comparison to the others, it’s not as complex, and it’s kind of… acidic? Something in the range of too sharp. It burns the back of my throat, and always has. Tupelo is very sweet and very light, almost floral, a little acidic. It’s got that song claiming it’s the sweetest, but that’s not true. And it’s supposed to be rare, but as it’s from this basic area, it’s not all that rare for me. Buckwheat tastes roasted, almost like molasses, but much smoother. I like it on whole wheat pancakes, but it’s too strong for yogurt. Local Wildflower is a good, well-balanced honey, rich and deep, but nowhere near as deep as the Buckwheat, moderately floral, and not very acidic, though it does sort of make the top of my mouth feel tingly and crawly the way good live-culture yogurt does. WV Wildflower is lighter than ours, and there were walnuts in this one, so maybe that’s why it’s a little bitterer. It’s also a little more… honey-like? Closer to Clover, I guess, so maybe they have more clover than we do. It’s definitely greener there, and it tastes ever so vaguely more herbal than ours. Killer Bee honey seems… zingier than regular or common honeys, and that might be just knowing where it comes from, but at the Rennfaire, we tasted them blind and it still seemed zingier, tarter, but not really sour at all, and not with the burning of Clover. It has bite, maybe. And Heather honey is very floral, very rich, and much more bitter than honey usually is, sharp in a non-acidic way, with a definite woody taste in the background. It immediately makes me think of summer in Scotland, with the flowers blooming and the cold stone and peat still underneath. It tastes like the air there.

Out of the honeys I don’t have on hand, Gallberry is my favorite. It’s exactly how honey should taste, smooth and rich and not throat-burny at all, and on the thicker side, but never crystallizing. And I’m also a fan of Arrowleaf honey, which is white and solid at room temperature, and as mellow as turbinado sugar, prefect for tea and for holding together things like peanut-butter balls and sugarplums. Mint Honey is on the darker side, a shade darker than Wildflower, and tastes like mint; I guess the pollen has the same menthols in it. I’m allergic to Radish honey because it’s got the same allergens as radishes have, and it burns a little in that same peppery way, but it’s tasty. Orange Blosson Honey has a definite citrus quality to it, but it’s more like the flowers and less like the fruit: pretty floral and a little acidic. I haven’t managed to get my hands on Lavendar Honey or that Hawaiian White Honey, but they’re on my list.

Here’s a prettier picture that I didn’t take:


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