I’m a local, raw honey kind of person but since our jar ran out last week and local honey goes for a premium, I started dipping into a dark brown container I got at the food blogger conference back in the fall.
Its color was enough to make me want to pick up a spoon: deep and iridescent, like oiled wood.
As I was photographing today and eating modest samples of the stuff, I remembered a book I was given earlier this year, The Honey Connoisseur by C. Marina Marchese and Kim Flottum. It was upstairs in the stack of food books I still need to read, but now I see that its real home should be the cookbook shelf. This is a book you can read front to back, sure, but it’s meant to be a guide a honey-lover can reach for every time an unfamiliar variety turns up on a jar label.
I went right to the pages on Manuka, the Maori name for the tea tree, Leptospermum scoparium. The honey made from Manuka nectar is celebrated as a healing honey the world over and promoted as such across the internet. I saw one container, with high antibacterial properties, retailing for 90 dollars. Though I have the more reasonably priced version, it still puts the kibosh on any notion I may have had to bake with it.
But I may daub some on my granola tomorrow morning. This honey doesn’t drizzle. It’s thick and seems to be finely crystallized, a fitting texture for such an assertive flavor. The authors’ flavor profile notes that Manuka honey tastes of “musty wood and caramelized sugars, with notes of pepper and ginger.” No wonder I’m craving it. Savory flavors are more interesting to me lately and though I’m not foregoing sweets, I prefer them spiked with salt or with bitter, herby undertones.
Because I want to eat local and support our struggling Washington beekeepers, I’ll have a new jar of local honey from Honey Bear Farm or Pixie Honey Company in our pantry next week. But every now and then it’s fun to have a taste from somewhere else.