From the Hive: Local honey delivering on taste

Think of a recent chance you had to taste honey. Maybe it was plain by the spoonful, smothered on a warm biscuit, or swirled into a mug of hot tea. Was it transparent white or an opaque amber? Did you purchase it from a local beekeeper or store? What was in the bouquet of flavors? How easy is it for you to discern your tasting experience?
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Photo by Sarah Meyer

By Sarah Meyer, Workers Ransom

I’ve tasted many types of honey, seasonal and varietal from multiple locations, but I have never settled on a favorite as they all seem sacred and respectfully one of a kind to me. Think of a recent chance you had to taste honey. Maybe it was plain by the spoonful, smothered on a warm biscuit, or swirled into a mug of hot tea. Was it transparent white or an opaque amber? Did you purchase it from a local beekeeper or store? What was in the bouquet of flavors? How easy is it for you to discern your tasting experience?

I held a honey tasting recently and feedback received for my Worker’s Ransom single-hive honey samples was complimentary — “sweet!” “smooth!” “oh, very floral”. I challenged tasters to deliver deeper descriptors for the flavor, aroma, and texture of the honey from each spoonful. Rather than expressing “plain” “normal”, or “tastes like honey to me”, words like, “caramel, citrus, buttery, fruity, rich, and smooth” were echoed by tasters. Each honey was distinguishable not only by flavor but by texture, color, and scent!

A very direct shopper pursued a specific honey, asking, “Do you sell regular honey? I just want normal honey.” I wasn’t sure what she meant by “regular” or “normal” so I took the opportunity to explain the process I use to collect and bottle my bee’s raw honey. She first tasted an early season, color-of-lemonade honey that, by it’s menthol, minty pungence, clearly originated from early season Linden or Basswood tree nectar. She finished the honey series with one produced by bees foraging on early spring apple and pear blossoms. After tasting each honey, she affirmed with surprise, “You’re right! Those are better than regular honey!” I chuckled, emphasizing that our honey is a unique, seasonal snapshot, bottled by the hive, never blended between boxes or locations.

As you shop for and select a local honey, take a taste from the beekeeper sharing it with you. Even local honey can have varied characteristics defined by when, where and from what it was created by the honey bees. It is a special experience to share our honey, knowing that it will never be described to be regular.

Sarah A. Meyer is the beekeeper and owner of Worker’s Ransom Honey based in Geneva, New York. She set up her first hive in 2014 and now sells local honey from bees pollinating the Finger Lakes region. You can learn more about Worker’s Ransom Honey by reading about Sarah’s beekeeping adventures shared in her monthly From the Hive column for Edible Finger Lakes and following Worker’s Ransom on social media @workersransom on Facebook and @workersransomhoney on Instagram. To contact Sarah, email workersransom@gmail.com.

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