Each September, jars of honey arrive. The first year, two jars. The second, four. The third (drum roll please), eight! Proudly, I leave the large pint sized jars on display. Of late, I want to show off my hive to visitors, spread the word of the full bee keeping services offered by BEST BEES COMPANY, and share the sweet, sticky nectar collected by the bees from the flowers in my own backyard. A little bit of honey--like most sweetness--goes a long way. The pints are divided into 4 ounce jars, and soon there is enough to deliver to the tables of friends and family throughout the fall.

One of the unique features of honey is the varied taste depending on the weather (sun and rainfall), the types of flowers and plants from which the bees collect pollen and nectar, and the location of the hive. The two most common types of honey in the United States are clover and wildflower.

Clover honey is monofloral and harvested in late July. It's characteristic pale amber color boasts a consistent mild flowery tastes. The U.S. produces the lion's share of the world's clover honey and is usually the least expensive honey on supermarket shelves.

Wildflower honey is harvested in early autumn before the bees need to store food for overwintering. The color of this polyfloral honey changes depending on what flowers and blossoms are in bloom in a particular area. My favorite wildflower honey is CHAMPLAIN VALLEY APIARIES, a 100% raw honey collected from hives in Vermont and Canada.  This is the honey used most often in the BUTTER MATTERS crowd pleasing bread plate appetizer. 

Consider using best practices to decide what honey to buy. Raw and unpasteurized honey preserves the healthy enzymes and microorganisms that provide antioxidant, phytochemical, and nutritional health benefits. Ultra processing not only destroys honey's medicinal qualities, it makes it taste bland. Most people buy ultra pasteurized honey because it doesn't crystallize and they do not realize the damage this process does to the taste and nutrition of the honey. Simply putting a jar in a bowl of hot water and then stirring will usually resolve the crystallization issue. 

Sadly, much of the honey sold in supermarket chains and wholesale retailers is ultra processed and it may as well be labeled sticky sugar syrup.  Purchasing honey locally from a farmer's market, or buying raw honey from a reputable organic distributor such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, ensures you are eating honey the way nature intended. 

High quality honey may be found nearly everywhere in the world. Raw is the keyword to search for on the label. Of late, my favorite jar of honey is from WASIK's CHEESE SHOP. The son of the owner, Brian, recommended Miel Maritime Seashore Honey. Its marshmallow crème opaqueness and ribbon-like consistency justifies its luxury price tag and cements its reputation as some of the best honey on earth.