Clover vs. Wildflower Honey. What is the difference between the two types of honey?
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For years I wasn't a believer in varietal honey. I thought all honey is the same.
My thought was - how can you possibility taste the difference?
When I started trying different types of honey I changed my tune very fast. I have seen the light! You should too.
Different honeys have different flavors, textures, colors, even aromas.
According to the National Honey Board, there are over 300 varieties of honey produced in just the United States!
In trying not to overwhelm with all 300 hundred options right off the bat, I want to start your honey varietal education with information on the most commonly found varietal honeys. Those two are clover and wildflower. We are going to explore how these two honeys differ.
🍀 What is Clover Honey?
By far the most common variety of honey you find is clover. This honey is collected from bees whose nectar source is clover. Most of the time the honey will indicate clover but not specific what type of clover.
Clover honey is collected from Dutch, sweet, white blossom, and yellow blossom clover. Bees absolutely love clover.
Most of the clover honey you find in the stores comes from various sources that are blended together. This is done so the clover honey tastes the same whenever you buy that brand.
If you buy clover honey from a particular source that only gets their honey from one region you will taste different from year to year. I personally don't think that is a bad thing. You see that all the time in the wine world with different vintages.
👅 What Does Clover Honey Taste Like?
Clover honey has a clean, mild taste without any bitterness. It's flavor will not overwhelm anything you pair with it.
My favorite clover honey of all time comes is bottled by Bloom Raw Honey. It is an outstanding light honey with a flavor that is pleasing to everyone. If you have only had store brand clover honey this one will knock your socks off.
🙋 Why Is There So Much Clover Honey?
I was wondering myself how come clover honey is the most common honey in the United States. I found an article on Slate that did a fantastic job of explaining this. You can check out this article yourself. It is a great read. Let me highlight one of the main points:
The USDA provides incentives for farmers in North Dakota and elsewhere to cultivate their unused or marginal land, soil that is too poor quality—too arid or too erodible, say—to otherwise yield a profit. The goal is to reduce erosion, improve water quality, and provide wildlife habitat. Simply put, the government “rents” about 25 million acres of land, under 10- or 15-year contracts at market prices, in exchange for the landowners’ commitment to enrich it. Sweet clover, it turns out, is just right for the job.
North Dakota is the largest honey producer in the country by far. Clover is a great choice to grow as it fixes nitrogen into the soil and as I said before the bees simply love it. These high incentives are why clover honey is so common.
🌼 What is Wildflower Honey
Any honey that strictly comes from wildflowers is wildflower honey. It is not a specific wildflower. It comes from all the wildflower sources in the same area where the bees are collecting from. Time of year often effects the taste of the honey.
It has been my experience that wildflower honey harvested in the late spring/early summer months is lighter in color and flavor. The stuff that is harvested in the late summer/early fall is darker and more robust in taste. All has to do with the types of flowers available at the time the honey is produced.
Wildflower just like clover honey can change from year to year. Mass produced wildflower honey is mixed together from different sources to create a uniform flavor.
To experience the range of wildflower honey look for local sources.
Some wildflower honey will come labeled the time of year it is collected. It's fun to find a producer that has different wildflower honeys from different seasons and compare.
I love the description from the Savannah Bee Company's website on wildflower honey:
Wildflower honey is a taste which reflects a specific part of the world during a specific time. An edible tribute to the small section of the planet that the wildflower honey comes from! It is a flavor representation of a specific place in time and space.
I adore that thought! I recommend seeking out wildflower honey that specifically from different regions. Wildflower honey is produced all over the place from the farmlands of Midwest to the deserts of Arizona. Even nectar from wildflowers collected just 50 miles apart can be drastically different.
⁉️ What is the Difference
Now that you are a little more familiar with clover and wildflower honey, let me explain the difference. In terms of sweetness, all honey is sweet, and I think it can be hard to dedicate if one honey is sweeter than another.
The difference really comes down to flavor. Clover honey is in general milder in flavor than wildflower. The mild flavor is another reason why clover honey is so common. It is a honey most people will agree on, which is great for avoiding fisticuffs in your household!
If you look at the color, clover honey is usually lighter in color than wildflower honey. I find the darker the honey, the stronger the flavor.
Buckwheat honey is almost black in color and it has a really strong, robust flavor. Most wildflower honey will between clover and buckwheat. You typically taste floral undertones in wildflower honey.
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🥧 Which Honey is Better for Baking
You can use either.
I think if you got a recipe that calls for honey I would opt for wildflower honey over clover. Due to the stronger flavor of wildflower honeys, you will taste more of the flavor of the honey in your finished product. Save clover honey for the breakfast or dinner table for things like biscuits.
🐝 How Do You Know If It's Real Honey?
I don't know if there has been a rise in doctored honey or we are just becoming more aware of the issue but a lot of people are concerned that their honey is 100% honey. How can you know? Here are 2 tips:
- Look for the True Source certified seal on the container.
- Instead of buying honey at the grocery store by it from a trusted source. By direct if you can like from the farmer's market or online.
Which honey do you like better - clover or wildflower? Leave a comment below and let us know your favorite and if you have a favorite brand.
That was interesting. Thank you, Eric.
You're welcome. Glad you found it useful. Hope you will enjoy the other posts during What's the Difference Week!
Yes, thank you. My local honey is clover or wildflower and I never had found the difference out. Until now, thank you for that education.
You're welcome! Where do you get your local honey from?
This information was very helpful.
The Wildflower honey I just purchased at the local farmers market taste terrible! I am sure I've never tasted this kind before, but we were told it was better than clover honey for fighting allergies. Is this true? As I will gladly throw it out, if not! I'm also concerned it might be bad! Supposedly it was just harvested this month. Any advice would be appreciated.
There are so many different wildflower honey out there. Was the honey more on the dark side? Some people don't like wildflower honey that is darker. I wouldn't give up on wildflower, find one that you might like better.
I do prefer it over clover for those that have allergies.
I always buy local. This last batch was almost too mild. I'm checking out a new market.
Great to buy local. If you want a stronger honey trying to find a wildflower honey that is from a fall harvest. They tend to be darker.