Hamilton Food: The Appeal of Local Wildflower Honey
Frank I. Reiter
Blessed Bee Apiaries
Honey is honey, right? Not at all!
The colour, and more importantly the *flavour* of a honey depends primarily on the kind of plant that the bees collected nectar from, and one honey can taste very different from another!
Check your local grocery store and you will probably find several different kinds, from the usual clover honey to the less common tupelo honey, or perhaps something exotic like Egyptian poppy seed honey.
Each different kind of honey will be a different colour and have a different flavour - quite different in some cases! The most common honey is clover honey, which is very light coloured and very mild. At the other end of the spectrum is buckwheat honey, which has the colour of molasses, and strong flavour that is reminiscent of molasses.
What you may not see there is local honey - honey produced from the plants that grow near the city that you live in. For that you may have to find a local beekeeper (and what better way than by using locallyfound.com!)
Wildflower honey is perhaps the most special of all, because the flavour will be different depending on exactly where it came from, and your local wildflower will have a flavour as unique to your region as the many species of wildflower that grow there. It will also contain grains of pollen from each of those plants, and many people believe that regular exposure to that pollen reduces allergy problems.
Your local beekeeper can also sell you honey that has not been heat treated. Large grocery stores do not want honey crystallizing on the shelves, so they generally insist on heat treating it to make sure this does not happen. Unfortunately that heat treatment destroys some of the delicate anti-oxidants and enzymes that are naturally present in honey.
Health food stores know this, and often insist on buying honey that has not been heat treated. If you cannot buy directly from a beekeeper, your local health food store is another good place to look for local wildflower honey.
Give your local honey a try - you may be surprised at how good it tastes!
Written by Frank I. Reiter
Blessed Bee Apiaries, producers of Ottawa Valley wildflower honey.