Honey can come in a variety of flavors. The flowers and nectar available to a bee colony can affect the flavor of the resulting honey. Honey created in different parts of the country can have drastically different tastes, and certain areas of the world are known for specific varietals of honey.
Nectar collected from several sources – or a number of different flowers – the resulting honey is referred to as “wildflower” or “mixed flower” honey. But when honey is made from nectar that is 80% of the same type of flower or plant, it can be labeled as a specific variety of honey.
Though each variety of honey is made of the same elements – sucrose and water – the different flavors are due to a variety of organic acids that give each type of honey its distinct taste.
Here is a sampling of honey varieties that you may not have heard of:
- Acacia: Hungary, Italy, France. Light in color with a delicate flavor. Good for baking.
- Avocado: California, Florida, Chile. Dark amber color with rich, floral flavor. Nice table honey, good for pancakes.
- Cranberry: Wisconsin, Oregon, Quebec. Medium amber color with hints of an intense, tart berry taste. Excellent with yogurt.
- Fireweed: Washington, Alaska, Oregon. Light gold color with mild, spicy flavor. Excellent for making honey butter or as a table honey.
- Lehua: Hawaii. Off white color with a distinct, complex flavor Overtones of butterscotch and lilies. Excellent with green tea.
- Rosemary: Spain, Italy, France. Light amber color with fresh herbal, slightly smoky flavor. Nice in glazes for chicken and drizzled over focaccia bread.
- Sunflower: Georgia, Italy, Spain. Pale yellow to light amber color with nutty, apricot flavor. Drizzle over yogurt or serve with fresh fruit.
- Tupelo: Florida, Georgia. White to light amber color with floral flavor and rich, buttery texture. Nice in glazes for pork.
To learn more about honey varietals, check out these books: Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper by C. Marina Marchese (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2009) or Honey: A Connoisseur’s Guide with Recipes by Gene Opton (Ten Speed Press, 2000).