Human beings have gathered honey for over 2000 years. Honey is delicious, and chock full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes. Reported to have antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, honey has been used as a folk medicine for dandruff, coughs, allergies, burns, and minor wounds for generations. (During World War I, honey was used as an emergency coating for battlefield wounds to help retard infection.)
Typically, the commercial honey found in supermarkets is processed at high temperatures for a long period (160 degrees) then filtered to remove pollen, beeswax, and propolis. This “long cooking” of the honey effectively pasteurizes it, killing the beneficial vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants and retarding crystallization.
Raw honey — honey in its natural state – is uncooked and usually unfiltered. As such, it contains small amounts of pollen and propolis. Raw honey also crystallizes, though different varieties granulate faster than others.
Raw honey will granulate when it is stored in a spot reliably under 50 degrees. Crystallization also occurs faster in plastic versus glass containers. Many people prefer crystallized honey for its easy to spread texture. If you prefer a runny honey, do not despair. Heat the bottle gently in a bath of hot water (no higher than 120 degrees or it will pasteurize) and the honey will re-liquify.
There are many types of honey varietals; as many as there are plants that flower. There are single flower (monofloral) honeys, and multifloral honeys. We offer a list of some of the most popular varietal honeys. (This symbol Ω indicates the varietal is sold in our farm store).
Avocado Blossom Honey is a dark, full flavored honey. Hard to find because southern beekeepers are collecting orange blossom honey when the avocado trees are blooming. Extremely slow to crystallize.
Ω Blueberry Blossom Honey is medium amber in color and the perfect complement to a bowl of fresh fruit.
Buckwheat Honey is not for the faint of heart. It is very dark in color with pungent flavors of molasses and malt, and a lingering aftertaste. The buckwheat plant is an excellent nectar source for bees, often planted by beekeepers specifically because the blossoms are nectar rich and late blooming. As a general rule, darker honeys tend to be higher in antioxidant compounds and mineral content than lighter honeys.
Ω Clover Honey is a light-colored honey, with heavy floral tones and a pleasant taste. Clovers contribute more to honey production in the United States than any other group of plants. The clover types most often found in honey production include white Dutch clover, white blossom clover, and yellow blossom clover.
Ω Cranberry Blossom Honey is medium-colored with a hint of tartness. A good cooking honey, delicious in homemade applesauce.
Goldenrod Honey has been described with a variety of color and taste descriptions, probably because it can be a multifloral honey, depending on bloom times. A light to medium honey, it often has a bit of a bite. Mead makers love it. Crystallizes quickly.
Ω Knotwood Honey comes from the Japanese Knotweed plant, an invasive found in 39 of the 50 states. Japanese knotweed (also called bamboo honey) is a dark honey with a pleasant sweetness, like a slightly milder buckwheat honey. Japanese knotweed flowers are valued by some beekeepers as an important source of nectar for honeybees, as they bloom at a time of year when little else is flowering.
Orange Blossom Honey comes primarily from orange blossoms, but can be a combination of citrus sources. Usually pale gold with a fresh scent and mild citrus notes. Orange blossom honey is produced in Florida, Southern California and parts of Texas. This honey has exceptional taste and is commonly spread on breads or biscuits.
Sourwood Honey is gathered from native sourwood trees. The honey has a unique pink/purple color and a spicy flavor that becomes more complex as it sits on the tongue.
Star Thistle Honey, from the yellow star thistle plant, originated in the Mediterranean and migrated to the US in the mid nineteenth century. Light golden in color, with a mild, pleasingly floral taste, this honey takes a long while to crystallize and makes a delicious creamed honey.
Tupelo honey is a golden amber color with a mild, pleasant flavor. A popular honey in the south, its buttery texture is perfect for spreading on biscuits It is also slow to crystallize. The best Tupelo honey producing region in the world exists in the wetlands of the Florida panhandle along the Appalachicola, Chipola, and Choctahatchie River systems of creeks and backwaters where the Tupelo (Nyssa ogeche) is native. The Tupelo tree has been added to the Ark of Taste, the conservancy list of heritage plants and animals that are endangered and must be protected.
Ω Wildflower Honey is a mixed (multifloral) honey that comes from bees visiting a variety of wildflowers and plants blooming in a given season. It is a thicker honey with great variation in flavors and aromas. The color and flavor of a honey labeled wildflower will vary widely based on the region and the wildflowers, trees and plants in bloom. Most have a mild to medium taste with variations of floral and herbal tones. Taste a variety of wildflower honeys from different regions of the country (and the world) to get a true feel for terroir.
Ω Cherry Grove Farm Wildflower Honey changes with the seasons. In early summer the honey is a golden straw color with distinct clover notes reflecting the white and red clovers in our pastures. By autumn, thought the color is still golden, the flavors have shifted to more herbal tones reflecting the wild thyme, mints, and thistles blooming in the fields.