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Something for my honey

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Jenise

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Something for my honey

by Jenise » Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:07 pm

Chestnut honey, that is.

Got a ham in the oven right now, studded with about 40 cloves and drizzled with chestnut honey.

Several years ago I admitted here that I didn't like the taste of honey at all. Never had, though I've tried it on and off, usually on the end of my finger, for I'd sometimes use it as an ingredient when for both sweetness and viscosity, it worked best. Brian Loofbourrow suggested I go to one of those stores that sells honey like at Granville Market or Pikes Place, and realize the entire spectrum of honeys, thinking that exposure to all things possible might enlighten if not change my mind. I did, and he was right.

Or at least, it got me to first base, and I bought a very light wildflower honey to add to the occasional cup of jasmine tea. Some months later, feeling reckless I bought a jar of Chestnut honey untasted and for no other reason than its lovely deep bourbon color. But the first time I took the lid off I couldn't put it back on fast enough. I hated it. Didn't even leave the lid off long enough to figure out what I hated except that it was very, very strong. If honey were wine, I was still in the Kendall Jackson chardonnay stage and this one was aged Musar blanc. It was way way over my head.

Well, I've sniffed at it a number of times since, and each time hated it just a little less. Today, unable to find the other honey I bought in the meantime with which to swab my little ham, I got this out thinking that whatever was so objectionable about it maybe wouldn't show so prominently in this application.

And lo and behold, I tasted it and liked it a little. Once I just stopped grimacing and let the flavors unfold in my mouth, I discovered coffee and molasses among the blossoms, flavors that I love and that (think red eye gravy) should be excellent on the ham if they come through after long cooking (I defy all conventional wisdom about ham cookery and roast it until the honey turns black).

Anyway, I feel rather happy about the fact that there is officially one less thing in this world that I don't like.

But I'm wondering if all the credit doesn't go to the honey itself. Do honeys age? Do they become softer, do edges smooth out? Does anyone know?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Larry Greenly

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Re: Something for my honey

by Larry Greenly » Sat Oct 14, 2006 12:42 am

I used to raise bees, so I know a little. Some factoids: honey is antiseptic (you've never seen moldy honey, have you?), there's a fabulous range of colors and flavors, honey is hygroscopic (breads made with honey don't dry out as fast, and it's composed of the sugars, fructose and glucose.

If honey gets granulated, you can reliquify it by placing the jar in warm water or even by carefully and slowly heating it in a microwave.

If you have a burn or cut, placing honey on it will allow it to heal faster (even some burn doctors use it) because it's both antiseptic and the sugars are used as nutrients in the healing process.

Honey really never goes bad. I still have a jar of local honey I bought in 1974. I recently bought a jar of Vietnamese honey at the Chinese supermarket for only 50 cents. Their supply had crystallized, so they were getting rid of it. It tasted fine after I warmed it up. The only honey I ever didn't like was a jar I bought for a buck at a dollar store. It was a melange of honeys from a number of countries, and it had a peculiar taste.

Whenever I go to Pennsylvania, I pick up some buckwheat honey, which resembles molasses in both appearance and taste. On my last visit, I bought some blueberry honey.

I recommend that you keep trying different kinds; you're bound to find some flavors you like. Mix some with peanut butter and you'll have a taste found in many candybars.

I'd really like to try the super-duper New Zealand variety (which I can't remember the name of) and tupelo honey (found in the South). So what's your fave so far?
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Jenise

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Re: Something for my honey

by Jenise » Sat Oct 14, 2006 1:06 pm

No "fave so far". I've only bought the two honeys I mentioned. I don't sweeten much (just the occasional pot of tea, and at that I use about 1/4 what someone else would) so a jar will last a long time. The Chestnut honey was lovely on the ham, though, the whole house smelled of both, I could really tell the difference in taste, too, on the finished ham. Wouldn't like it in tea, though.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bob Ross

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Re: Something for my honey

by Bob Ross » Sat Oct 14, 2006 2:05 pm

We had 50 hives growing up -- a guy named Rude Logey taught me an enormous amount about bees and life generally. I've never developed a real love for honey, but I can still tell the difference between honeys the bees make from different flowers.

One interesting fact (at least for some allergy sufferers), local honey can reduce the symptoms of some allergies. There seems to be a fair amount of evidence that this really works. A good general description of why appears in Tom Ogren's column:

Honey contains bits and pieces of pollen and honey, and as an immune system booster, it is quite powerful. I have often in talks and articles, and in my books, advocated using local honey. Frequently I’ll get emails from readers who want to know exactly what I mean by local honey, and how “local” should it be. This is what I usually advise:

Allergies arise from continuous over-exposure to the same allergens. If, for example, you live in an area where there is a great deal of red clover growing, and if in addition you often feed red clover hay to your own horses or cattle, then it likely you are exposed over and over to pollen from this same red clover. Now, red clover pollen is not especially allergenic but still, with time, a serious allergy to it can easily arise.

Another example: if you lived in a southern area where bottlebrush trees were frequently used in the landscapes or perhaps you had a bottlebrush tree growing in your own yard, your odds of over-exposure to this tree’s tiny, triangular, and potently very allergenic pollen is greatly enhanced.

In the two examples used above, both species of plants are what we call amphipilous, meaning they are pollinated by both insects and by the wind. Honeybees will collect pollen from each of these species and it will be present in small amounts in honey that was gathered by bees that were working areas where these species are growing. When people living in these same areas eat honey that was produced in that environment, the honey will often act as an immune booster. The good effects of this local honey are best when the honey is taken a little bit (a couple of teaspoons-full) a day for several months prior to the pollen season.


We are four miles from the closest apiary, and I stop by once a year for a pint of honey, partly to shoot the breeze with the bee keeper, who sometimes lets me play with his bees.

Honey can change its flavor over time, but this is usually considered a fault -- the result of antibiotics, yeast, chemical residues and other stuff. Fermentation can be a real problem.

Bees and honey are both fascinating -- I've really enjoyed reading C. D. Michener's The Bees of the World -- it makes an interesting sideline to trips to new parts of the world. There are over 20,000 different species, so plenty of scope if you get interested in the subject. :-)
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Cynthia Wenslow

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Re: Something for my honey

by Cynthia Wenslow » Sat Oct 14, 2006 11:42 pm

Bob Ross wrote:One interesting fact (at least for some allergy sufferers), local honey can reduce the symptoms of some allergies.


I was just going to mention this as well, Bob. It has been remarkably effective for several people I know, so I started doing this as well this year. Amazing difference.
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Jenise

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Re: Something for my honey

by Jenise » Sun Oct 15, 2006 3:53 pm

Wow, so honey can be a form of immunotherapy! Well, I'll be. I'm allergic to something up here that we have yet to figure out. Wouldn't it be nice if it were the wild blackberries, and that was a way to a cure?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bob Ross

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Re: Something for my honey

by Bob Ross » Sun Oct 15, 2006 4:19 pm

When I picked up our bird seed for the winter at the Lorrimer Sanctuary (New Jersey Audubon) yesterday, I found that a volunteer had made honey from the three hives they maintain.

The Sanctuary is only a mile and a half from our house, a little less in bee miles, and it's very possible they actually harvest pollen and nectar from our yard. Janet suffers from allergies, and maybe this will help her.

The label has a couple of neat references -- they claim honey is the only food that doesn't spoil and that edible honey was found in the pyramids.

Amazing stuff, even if the allergy stuff isn't true.

[Rude Logey taught me how to color bees and then watch how they would bring others back to a sugar source. We trained one of our hives to bring sugar water back from three quarters of a mile away by just moving the sugar water bowls a hundred yards further away from the home hive every half hour or so.)
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Larry Greenly

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Re: Something for my honey

by Larry Greenly » Sun Oct 15, 2006 4:26 pm

The bees do a dance to tell the others the angle, with reference to the sun, to navigate and the distance, by how fast they wiggle.

We would be in a world of hurt without bees to pollinate our crops. It's also interesting how nature fits everything together. Red appears black to bees, so hummingbirds fill that niche by being attracted to red and helping to pollinate those flowers.

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