Honey in one of the most unique foods on the planet. It's been around for years, it even made the Bible, bet you can't say that about anything else in your pantry. It's a product that is completely made by an animal - bees. They do the work and we harvest the results. Honey is not something that is hard to find. Every grocery store will have honey. But finding good, even great honey is a little more of a challenge. Isn't honey just honey? Doesn't it all taste the same. I want to share with you what I have learned about how to find great honey.
Forget the Generic Bear Honey
Most of the honey you find on the store shelves is completely lacking in personality. Honey that has been heat treated or pasteurized looses much of it's flavor. Big honey producers are looking to make a honey that looks the same and tastes the same every time you buy it. Usually companies will gather honey from multiple sources so they can assure that same taste. That taste is bland and one dimensional (they taste sweet). Until you have tried different varieties of honey you would never know the taste experience your tongue is missing.
Varieties of Honey
The source from which the bee gets it's pollen has a huge effect on the final outcome of the honey. So there are different varieties of honey, each with their own distinctive characteristics. I recommend if you are going to buy your honey at the grocery store, look for varietal types such as orange blossom (which most stores seem to carry). You can learn what type of honey you like best and get a chance to experience with flavors. People who like wine, don't drink the same boring wine over and over again, just like those who are cheese lovers don't get just one type of cheese. So why should you eat just one type of honey?
Buy from the Farmer's Market
The best source for buying honey is your local farmer's market. Even if they don't claim their honey to be a certain variety, you can still find better quality honey, that has undergone less processing, then the cheap stuff you find inside a plastic bear at the store. There are also report of health benefits from buying locally made honey (more on that in a later post). You might come across from varieties of honey that you will never see on a store shelf. I purchased some avocado blossom honey at a farmer's market when I was visiting family in California in February. That is the only time I have seen this type of honey before and it had a unique taste, unlike anything I have tried before. When you buy from the farmer's market, most vendors will gladly let you sample the honey before you buy (that's how I ended up with my avocado blossom honey).
There are many sources online for purchasing all different types of honey. This is a great way to find things not available in your area. The only downside is that they haven't invented technology yet to sample honey over the internet (hopefully they will someday). Here are a couple examples of some sources for honey.