My husband, daughter and I picked blueberries yesterday. The bushes were so packed with them that the branches were drooping from their weight. They tasted so sweet and flavorful; in fact, I felt sort of guilty that I had eaten so many while picking. But, who could resist?
When we went to pay for our buckets of blueberries, I saw a sign at the stand – Local Honey For Sale. I just knew I had to talk to the guy at the register about how and where they harvested their honey. My husband, knowing my passion, kindly reminded me that the gentleman at the register (who owns the farm), probably didn’t have a lot of time to socialize about honey. Of course, I nodded and made a beeline (no pun intended :-)) over to him.
His face was very attractive and bronzed by the hot sun. He was about 50 years of age, with graying, curly hair and the most beautiful blue eyes that matched the shirt he was wearing. His smile was welcoming, a clue I would have a nice conversation with him.
I was really fortunate there were only a couple of pickers in the field, and no one was at the stand to disrupt my “interview” with the farmer. Many of you have heard the expression, but wonder, “What is local honey?”, and “Is local honey good for you?” My conversation with the farmer will give you the answer.
So….. here’s the gist of the conversation.
Me: I see you have honey. Do you have beekeepers here on the property?
Farmer: No, down the road we have a beekeeper, and we get our honey from him.
Me: What type of honey do the bees produce?
Farmer: My honey is called wildflower. Wildflower honey comes from various sources. The bees use nectar from the flowers on the farm. The taste, aroma and color are different from year to year, and it’s usually thicker and darker than most other types of honey, and the taste is amazing.
Me: That’s interesting. Is your honey processed?
Farmer: Not at all. We get the honey right from the bees and put it directly into the jars. We do nothing else to it. So, you are getting the real deal – raw honey, not pasteurized honey.
While he was still speaking, I saw a small golden colored snake on the counter right next to the honey. The farmer noticed my gaze and he grabbed the snake and announced, “If you want to buy honey, you have to pet the snake first!” I let out a small scream (actually it was rather loud – embarrassing my child and husband) and backed away from the counter. He evidently realized that I was seriously afraid, and so he quickly revealed that the snake was not real, but was made out of wood. My goodness, that thing looked genuine. I quickly learned that this farmer had a real sense of humor.
Me: Can you tell me some of the benefits of raw honey? What have you discovered over the years?
Farmer: Well, raw honey is better than a lot of that crap you get in the stores. You might as well buy syrup if you ask me. The honey you buy in the stores have been heated so much, it has killed all the good qualities that make honey so special. But, we don’t heat our local honey at all. That way, you get all the vitamins, minerals and other stuff that make honey magical.
Me: Magical? Can you elaborate? Is local honey good for you?
Farmer: Many of my customers over the years say they have been helped with allergies when they eat local honey. I don’t have allergies, so I don’t use it for that, so I couldn’t tell you from personal experience. I eat it because it tastes good. We always use lemon and honey when the weather is cold. I haven’t had a sore throat in such a long time, I can’t remember when. And come to think of it, I haven’t been sick in a while either. He knocks on wood.
Me: What is your definition of local honey?
Farmer: Well, if you want honey for allergy reasons, you’d want to make sure the honey comes from nectar sources that are closest to where you live. It has very little to do with actual distance.
After I spoke a few more minutes with the farmer and learning about the land and his farm’s history, I got down to business. He had fresh, fat melons, large bins of onions, blushing tomatoes, and sacks of dusty but beautiful sweet potatoes. I picked out a good supply of his goodies and didn’t forget to purchase a jar of his local honey.
I purchased the last jar he had that contained honeycomb. I held the honey jar up above my head so that the sun’s rays could help me see more clearly the perfect, mystical honeycomb, suspended in the golden, thick liquid. I couldn’t wait to taste it.
We trekked back to our truck, loaded down with the bounties of nature. Once we got all settled in, my husband opened the jar. I was expecting a flavorful aroma to escape, but the smell was more subdued. We each dipped a finger into the thick, sticky awesomeness and immediately began to sample it. I closed my eyes.
Its flavor was light and fruity. I dipped my finger into the jar again. This time I could taste a faint caramel flavor, sort of buttery and rich, which was a contrast to the first fingerful. I really enjoyed its complexity and determined that this honey was going to be great on hot buttered bread loaves or even as a good ingredient in homemade sauces or dips.
….. And, oh, I forgot all about the blueberries! Isn’t that the main reason I came here to begin with? I’m going to probably make a large batch of buttery blueberry muffins with golden crusty tops and loaded with blueberries.
I’ll probably create a lemony citrus sauce to drizzle over the tops of the warm muffins after I pull them from the oven. And, of course, we’ll surely eat quite a few of them right out of the pail.
What about you? Have you ever visited a local farm and tasted the honey produced there? Did you like it? I’d love to know about your experience, so please leave a comment 😉