Liquid Gold

3.30.2012

Orange blossom honey, sourwood, and gallberry



You know how every few months there seems to be a new health fad? Acai. Pomegranate. Algae. Oil expressed from the leaves of a plant that only grows on Mars. Stuff like that. It's almost always expensive and almost always promises to infuse you with the power of a thousand burning suns.* (*results not typical)

I am of the mind that natural stuff may or may not be good for you. It really depends on what that particular food item is. Just because it comes out of the ground (or the sky, or the sea, or the teat of a mermaid) doesn't mean it's going to save your life.

I'm not going to tell you that honey will save your life. Although, if you find yourself with a grievous, infected, seriously gross wound and the antibacterial properties of honey happen to save your life, I won't argue. Or if you have a horrific cold or allergies and honey spares you the pain, that's nice too. You know what, here's a list of everything The Mayo Clinic says honey is good for: burns, diabetes, herpes, hypertension, plaque/gingivitis, and wound healing. Go here for the full article and a list of traditional uses of honey. And here's another article on all the stuff honey is thought to be good for, which may or may not be proven, from Wikipedia.


I used to hate honey. But, I had only had the stuff that comes in the bears, from the grocery store. Did you know that most grocery store honey is not really honey? It's just sweet nectar, no pollen or any of the other stuff that makes honey good for you. No wonder it tastes like crap... it's basically just sugar syrup.

Beekeeping is apparently a big deal in the South. Not long after I moved here, I tried local, raw honey. And angels sang, and the gods nodded with approval. Liquid gold, ambrosia... My god, if you've never had raw local honey, you are depriving yourself of one of the delights of life on Earth. And all the different varieties... it's as changeable as grapes and wine.


So, yes. I am in love with honey. It's makes me happy. It tastes like sensuality, like the sweet fruits of the bee's hard labor, like the essence of blooming flowers in the lazy summer heat. It tastes like life. 

Raw honey is unpasteurized. Pasteurization (when honey is heated to sanitize it) makes it "safe," but it destroys all of the good bits. Also, did you know honey never expires? It solidifies, but doesn't ever go bad. Oh and don't give raw honey to babies under a year old.

All this honey you are seeing in the pictures is the product of a moment of weakness as I browsed the online offerings of a local Georgia beekeeper, Blue Ridge Honey Company. This was frankly a bit expensive but worth every penny, and I feel like I got way more than my money's worth. Here's what I got:
  • Wildflower, with the comb. This honey is delightful, not too sweet, a very light and classic tasting honey. The comb is edible, but it's wax so I don't recommend it unless you want to be picking wax out of your teeth. I like the comb in the jar cause the little bits that break off give it a bit of texture.
  • Tupelo. This is a Southern varietal that is highly sought after. Personally, it's not my favorite, but it does have a uniquely sweet flavor that I can see why people love.
  • Sourwood. This one's darker, quite rich but not overpowering. One of my favorites! You can see in the closeups that it has an almost rose tint to it. Really beautiful!
  • Orange Blossom. Waaaaay too sweet for me to eat plain, but it's good in tea and coffee.
  • Gallberry. Another classic-tasting honey, medium amber, light and sweet.
  • Purple Starthistle. A beautiful honey, with an unusual, complex, mildly sweet flavor.
  • Blackberry. My absolute FAVORITE. This stuff I could eat by the spoonful! Like the starthistle, it's unusual and complex, but this one has an almost otherworldly quality to it that I just can't define. Of all of these, this is the one I reach for first, but I don't like to use it with anything that will overpower the taste, because it's so good. I am seriously considering buying a jug of this stuff, because I know I'll always want more. Try it, you won't regret it!
Sourwood, slightly rose. Gallberry, classic amber. Orange Blossom, very light yellow.
I should say that this post is in no way sponsored by Blue Ridge Honey Company or anyone else. I was just so impressed with the quality, prices, and with their range that I feel comfortable recommending them. Shipping is a bit expensive, but honey is pretty heavy stuff. All their honey is raw and minimally processed, so you know you're getting good, healthy honey. 

My favorite ways to eat honey are either on a grapefruit, or topping plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (I like Fage brand). And my favorite non-food use for honey is as a hair mask. Mix 1 part honey to 6 parts water, apply to hair, wrap your head up in plastic wrap, and leave it on as long as you can stand. Preferably at least an hour. I usually leave it on for two before rinsing. Makes your hair unbelievably soft, and the results actually last! Supposedly water causes honey to release minimal amounts of peroxide, which may lighten your hair, but I've never noticed that.

So? What do you think? Do you like honey? What varieties do you like?


13 comments:

  1. When we were in Paris, we went to a honey shop - literally walls of different kinds of honey. Luckily, the shop keeper spoke English, so we got a honey tasting to learn the difference between strong honey and sweet honey. The strong stuff was actually quite bitter! You'd probably have liked that place, I think? We got this lavendar honey that was more of a paste than a liquid, and it was soooo good! mmm...miss Paris...

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  2. I love honey- I eat some with my breakfast every morning! It's only a bonus that is is so wonderful for my health, as well. =)

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  3. My goodness, that's a LOT of honey. And it looks delicious! You also have to be careful of Raw Honey if you have a compromised immune system, so anyone on chemo, or anyone on immuno suppressants have to be careful. And of course, babies, under a year. Okay, that's my PSA for the week. :)

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  4. Oh, I should totally have a honey tasting! I abandoned the "bears" long ago, so now we are really into raw honey, especially in the spring. I love to drizzle some over anice soft cheese and toast:)

    Jessica
    stayathomeista.com

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  5. We went to a store in Paris that had walls of different types of honey, and had a honey tasting - it was so awesome! We ended up buying a lavender honey that was more of a paste than a liquid. Raw honey is amazing stuff!

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  6. we use raw honey, but i had no clue there were so many different types! is the comb the same thing as beeswax? would you be able to use it when you're finished with the honey? i definitely want to try some of these!

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  7. I used to love honey. But after we moved to the states, and tried the grocery store's honey, we didn't like it... You are right, there are so many varieties of honey... which reminds me I should go to a farmer's market and buy some delicious honey there... Thanks for the post!

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  8. I recently brought back some honey from Puerto Rico that was out of this world. And it was like a liter for $4. Those bees go nuts on all that exotic fruit and it's wonderful.

    We also have a buddy who recently got into bee keeping in Virginia and he's given us honey two years in a row. The taste and color was different each year. He's got more now that he'll send us if I agree to make him some lip balm with the bees wax....yup, I sure will.

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  9. I bought 2 bottles of local honey at the farmer's market this morning. I'm so sad when I run out! I like to think that the flowers in my garden contribute to the flavor of the honey I buy.

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  10. I heard this honey health tip: if you have allergies to pollen (who doesn't in Georgia?!), eat local honey as it helps "innoculate" your system to the local pollen types.

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  11. We're honey lovers over here too. My grandfather used to keep bees, but now I get my honey from another family friend and they come in big mason jars. We use honey for nearly everything too. Did not know about the honey mask though, I'm totally going to try that soon!

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  12. Oooo I love honey. The PA dutch have an amazing selection at the market by our house. I made some banana bread and lemonade with honey. So delicious.

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