It's a sticky situation. The big honey-packing facilities want honey to have a long shelf-life. So they pasteurize it, heating the delectable stuff to super high temperatures and shooting the honey via high-pressure through filters.
Hello shelf-life—but goodbye flavor.
That's why we've got a bee in our bonnet. Pressurized filtration nabs the subtle textures and flavor notes—the hints of caramel or burnt toast, the shadow of lavender or mesquite—leaving us with a bland brew indeed. Ever tried raw (unprocessed) honey? A lick tastes as nuanced as a micro-brewed beer.
Buckwheat honey, anyone? What about sourwood honey or black locust honey? About 300 varieties of honey exist, with flavors and colors (from near-white to dark amber), intricately connected to what's blooming in a particular geographic area, as well as the rainfall, soil conditions, wind, and more—like the daily decisions of each bee.
Our chef, who's been moonlighting with local beekeepers, tells us it takes 12 bees, working almost their whole lives, to make one teaspoon of honey. We tasted redwood forest honey (woodsy), California coastal wildflower honey (distinctly floral) and sage-infused honey (we're still reeling) during an impromptu tasting here when she came back from the hives. You can stage a tasting too, to awaken your own palate.
The National Honey Board's locator, a labor of honey-love, enables you to find local honey