Although we are known for having a vast international honey selection at the shop, I think that this year’s selection of domestic honey particularly stands out. Over the years, I have gotten to know our domestic honey producers quite well and, while the stories behind their passions are different, they each strive to produce beautiful, unique and delicious honey. Here are a few that will knock your socks off!
Smiley Tupelo Honey – This honey comes to us from beekeeper Don Smiley of Wewahitchka, Florida (a small town of less than 2,000 located off of the Gulf Coast). Don produces only one type of honey – white tupelo. This unique varietal blooms for only a maximum of 4 weeks each year. Such a short window makes it difficult to harvest and, consequently, pure tupelo honey is rare. In the US only 50% of the harvested honey must come from tupelo blossoms to be certified as tupelo honey. Luckily, Don prides himself on harvesting the purest tupelo honey possible and, due to careful hive maintenance, is able to produce honey that is certified as having at least 95% tupelo blossom. It is no surprise then that this honey is the most beautiful example of tupelo honey that we have encountered. It has a remarkably viscous texture and due to its unique make-up will never crystallize. A highlight of this tupelo honey is that it is not cloyingly sweet. It has a clean flavor profile with highlights of citrus and grass making it a subtle but remarkable honey. I recommend pairing it with fresh fruit and chèvre.
Ames Buckwheat Honey – Brian Fredrickson is the passionate beekeeper behind one of our most popular domestic apiaries. Based in central Minnesota, Brian focuses on sustainable beekeeping while producing unique single varietal honey. Brian chooses not to truck his bees south for the winter (as many folks do to create an extra source of income by “renting” their bees to southern orchards to assist in pollination) so as to protect the population from pathogens and maintain healthy hives. To drive this point home, he has created a “virtual hive” on his website in which you can match the hive number on your jar of honey with a location on Google Maps to see exactly where your bees are hard at work! While Brian offers many varietals, his buckwheat honey is very unique both in terms of flavor and texture. This deep, dark honey is thick and spreadable with a funky and earthy flavor profile. Notes of cherry, plum and tobacco make it a perfect pairing with strong cheeses like Stilton or Époisses!
Volcano Island Winter Honey – We have been working with the wonderful beekeepers of the Volcano Island Honey Company for almost 10 years and their honey always impresses us. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, it is a challenge to produce honey in such a humid climate. Despite that, a commitment to social and environmental responsibility drives this small team of farmers and beekeepers to continue producing rare honeys that can only be found in Hawaii. Because we have been friends with the folks of Volcano Island Honey for so long, we are the only store on the mainland that is able to sell their amazing Winter Honey. Harvested on volcano slopes in North Kohala, the bees collect nectar from macadamia nut blossoms and mountain wildflowers. This dark honey has a rich tropical flavor with notes of maple candy and a smooth, creamy texture. If you can resist eating this honey by the spoonful then you have more self-control than me!
Julia Hallman wears many hats at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge – among them are cheesemonger, classroom instructor and buyer of both our international and domestic honeys.