Honey Tasting: Moses Lake Wildflower from Sunny Honey Co.

Moses Lake Wildflower from Sunny HoneyI picked up this spring 2015 honey yesterday at the Sunny Honey shop at Pike Place Market. I noticed that many people flowing through the shop passed over this in favor of the raspberry. One reason may be that the idea of raspberry honey is appealing. Also, tasting honey on a tiny stick won’t give you the full picture; something bright like raspberry honey will stand out more (usually I find raspberry honey too brightly sweet one-note, though I have to admit it can be nice). In any case those folks were missing out. This Moses Lake honey is super fun. Unlike the black-as-tar buckwheat I’ve had from that part of the state, this is nearly white and is quite waxy. It looks and feels almost like it was creamed, but in fact Anne from Sunny Honey told me that it turned out this way naturally, saying that it’s the result of pollinating many things: onion, radish, alfalfa, buckwheat, mint…

Tasting

There is an unexpected barnyard smell in the jar. On the tongue the honey feels smooth and chewy from the waxiness. The flavor is softly sweet but also buttery / savory, kind of like butterscotch candy. I think of cookie dough in the aftertaste. Not exotic, but… yum.

Honey Tasting: Oregon Pumpkin Blossom

Pumpkin honeyHere is another honey I picked up at Minglemint on Vashon Island. Minglemint has lately been bottling their own brand sourced from local beekeepers, but luckily they still stock the excellent “Heavenly Honey” brand from Oregon (distributed by the honey-loving Hummingbird Wholesale company). I haven’t seen this brand for sale anywhere else in Washington so far, so naturally I grabbed this pumpkin honey when I was on the island recently. I have one other pumpkin honey in my collection, but it’s from the east coast and is very different from this one.

Tasting

A strong smell of burned-marshmallow and vanilla pops out of the jar even before you taste this honey. There is a kind of subtle “stinky flower” background in the smell that you don’t get in the taste, which is strong and sweet with that same marshmallow-vanilla flavor. Altogether it reminds me a lot of meadowfoam honey, but I like it better since it’s not as one-note. The sweetness makes it too overwhelming to eat much straight, but it sure is good on toast. I’m curious why this tastes so different from the pumpkin honey I got from Red Bee in Connecticut, which is dark and super-rich and which has none of that marshmallow flavor (instead it’s more like molasses-caramel-apple). Perhaps the bees that made this Oregon version roamed off of the farm, as bees tend to do.

Honey Tasting: Craic Honey

Craic 2014 Fall HoneyI have a lot of honeys around the house, so it’s unusual when I go back to buy more of the same thing. This honey from the Craic Honey Company in Washington’s Yakima Valley is one of those exceptions. I’ve gone through more than two large jars, and also gifted a few. None of the jars have tasted exactly the same (though similar), but all have been good.

According to their website, Craic is named after an Irish word (also their family motto), meaning something like “fun, joyful conversation and generally a good time.” I’ve seen this dark honey at PCC but never got around to trying it, but when it showed up at Central Market in Shoreline, WA I finally bought some. Craic sells their dark honey in jars, while all of their light honey goes to the Iron Horse Brewery, who use it in their High Five Hefe.

I talked to beekeeper Kim at Craic to find out what went into this dark honey. She said that it comes from pollinating 2014 raspberry crops all through the Yakima Valley from White Pass to Patterson / Midfield. But while doing that work, the bees go to other nearby plants such as sagebrush, knapweed and rabbitbrush (chamisa). That goes a long way towards explaining how this honey ended up with its combination of brightness (raspberry) and funky richness (everything else).

Tasting

Upon opening the jar this is a strong-smelling honey: propolis, barnyard, and something like sap or an herbal cough drop. The taste is not so funky, but instead unexpectedly bright and long-lasting, with a rich rootbeer-like quality and a sense of burned sugar. The first jar was obviously a different batch, since it’s much more runny and has a distinct bitterness like a chestnut honey that the other jars I’ve tried do not have. I like both versions and can’t decide which is better, but no matter – I’ll just keep getting more of it.

Honey Tasting: Dark Macadamia Nut Tree Honey From Hawaii

Medium Dark Macadamia HoneyHere is another gift from traveling friends, this time Arlene and Richard, who went to Hawaii and found this honey off the beaten path.

Beekeeper Len Skyles collects this honey from hives around Kurtistown in the Puna area of the big island of Hawaii. His bees help pollinate local crops, this time macadamia trees. “Medium Dark Macadamia Nut” is hand-written on the label. I’ve previously had a couple different jars of macadamia honey, and it’s always good, but this one is really special.
 

Tasting

The honey is already crystallizing into big rough granules, but some liquid honey always seems to be on top. It smells brown-sugary. The flavor is strong but immediately appealing with a syrupy sweetness that offsets its dark undertones. A wave of fruit comes next, like some sort of cooked-down tropical fruit concoction with brown sugar. It’s pretty darn tasty, and I really need to visit Hawaii.

Honey Tasting: Wildflower Honey From Shiga, Japan

Honey from Shiga, JapanMy friend Keiko recently visited her hometown of Kyoto, and during her travels through nearby Shiga Prefecture she picked up this jar of local honey for me. This is my first jar of Japanese honey, so I was pretty excited to receive it. Keiko has been exposed to my honey mania, and attended my recent Honey Tasting Fundraiser, so this time in Japan she was more aware of honey than previously. She told me that in fact many people there are interested in honey and that she even saw shops dedicated solely to honey. I need to go back there.

The label on this jar says, by line:
* Made in Shiga Prefecture
* “Hyakka-mitsu”, meaning “Hundred Flower Honey”
* Nakagawa Bee Company

Tasting

This honey is very sweet and bright. The flavor is not especially exotic, but very nice. I find it hard to describe, but the closest words I can choose are warm pure caramel, with a subtle fruit tone like grapefruit that gives it a little sour edge. There’s a hint of flowers in the nose. Altogether it’s an elegant specimen. Thanks again Keiko!