Types of Honey

kinds of honeyNot all flowers have nectar that makes good honey; and bees other than honeybees make honey for food. but there are many hundreds of honey varietals. The flavor and color of honey are determined by the nectar source. The U.S. produced 171.7 million pounds of honey from 26 million bee colonies in 2003—from clear-as-water to dark brown, from very mild to very strong flavored, from delicately perfumed to pungent. (NOTE: New Zealand and Australian specialty honeys are included in this chart because they are now arriving in U.S. specialty food venues. Look for them.)

Crystallization depends on the proportion of fructose to glucose in the honey (each varietal has its own proportion); the higher the fructose, the less likely to crystallize.

As with wine, the flavor and color of honey can differ every year, even from the same location and beekeeper. While the same type of flower from a different region can produce a different region, even locally, as with grapes, a difference in the weather and “blossoming season” will make a difference in the honey.

Finally, it’s important to note that while some honeys taste exactly like their source—buckwheat honey tastes exactly like buckwheat—a honey does not necessarily taste like the fruit of the plant. Blueberry honey does not necessarily taste like blueberries, nor raspberry honey like raspberries, etc. Honeys are based on the nectar of the flower, not on the infusion of the fruit of the plant. Sometimes there’s a close correlation, sometimes not. Some fruit honeys are enhanced with extra flavor; read the labels carefully. Raw honey means that nothing has been added.  “Milky” is the classic honey flavor.

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