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What is your favorite honey? And what type of honey (clover, alfafa, etc.)?

There are many varieties of honey sold at the stores. I am looking for a really good one.

Therefore, I wanted to ask the people here:

What is your favorite honey? And what type of honey (clover, alfafa, etc.) do you prefer?
Are there any major difference between the different honey types in terms of health benefits?

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  1. Sourwood (AKA Sorrelwood) honey is excellent. We've had great service the last few years from...

    http://www.mtnhoney.com/types_honey.htm

    Unfortunately, it looks like they're sold out for the season.

    1. There are some really good threads of people singing the praises of their favorites honeys. Once you start getting into honey, you'll realize what an amazing variety there is. What's best is to some extent a matter of taste and to another what you're going to be using it for. For example, a lot of people like chestnut honey from Italy, but it has a slight bitterness that doesn't work well in some situations.

      Since you're in NYC, I'd recommend going into some good specialty grocers and ethnic markets to get an idea of the wide range of honeys available. For example, I was in a Middle Eastern market yesterday and they had both local in imported honeys that included avocado, sage, acacia, blackberry, etc. Good farmers markets often have local honey producers -- the vendor list for the Union Square greenmarket has quite a few.

      I think that the claims of health benefits from honey are dubious at best. A lot of honey producers claim that eating local honey will help you with pollen allergies from your local plants, so that might be one consideration.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Farmers' markets are a great place to buy honey, because you will typically be able to sample the different varieties. You can see what kinds you like and also taste the range of flavors, which can be quite distinctive.

        I quite like blackberry and raspberry honeys, among others; they have a nice floral/fruity quality.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I think the pollen allergies thing is also associated with unpasteurized honey. Difficult to find, even at farmer's markets sometimes. I don't know if it works, but I have heard from people who claims the honey helps them (placebo or not, don't know).

          OP: I'm a huge fan of lavender honey (impossible to find), followed by tupelo honey (a song from Van Morrison).

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            It also works as an antibiotic, internally or externally. Not as strong as penicillin but a lot more pleasant!

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I bought the Italian chestnut honey from iGourmet. It is a bit bitter. I am trying to find a way to use it fo counter that bitterness. My hub did not like it on roasted chicken. Any ideas?

              1. re: Quill

                You can possibly try using it in a dessert type application, such as with yogurt or cream (as a topping). Pairing it with vanilla ice-cream would work too, to help cut down on the bitterness/smokiness.

            2. Oooooh I'm going to get tarred and feathered for this...but I'm going to come clean.

              My favorite honey is the one in the plastic bear.

              There. Let the flaming begin.

              :}

              4 Replies
              1. re: librarianjen

                There are many kinds of honey that come in plastic bears. Do you have a specific one you like, or do you just like the bear?

                A lot of generic honey in plastic bears comes from China and may be adulterated. I just looked at one that doesn't specify country of origin on the printed label, but instead has it stamped on the top, which leads me to believe that the source of this particular company's honey may be different from bottling to bottling.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Interesting! I just always reach for 'the bear' (lol - no particular brand that I know of) because I know it will just taste like 'generic' straight-up honey, without 'flavors.' I've had a few flavored honeys that I just didn't like.

                  Although after reading this thread, I'm really interested in trying orange blossom honey - how could that NOT be good? tee hee

                  And to be honest, I kind of do like the bear. It makes me smile. :)

                  1. re: librarianjen

                    Just to clarify: there's a difference between honey that has flavors added to it and honey that tastes different because it's made from the pollen/nectar of different plants. It wasn't until I started sampling the different honeys from one of the honey sellers at the farmers market that I realized how much of a difference what the bees used to make the honey could make.

                    I think it's really worth the time to set up a honey tasting and at least get a sense of the possibilities, even if you do in the end prefer generic honey over varietal honey. And you can always transfer whatever honey you like into an empty bear!

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      If you want to taste how different honeys can be you can get a sampler pack from many honey places. Here is one I link to simply because I am aware of them

                      http://www.marshallshoney.com/p-213-3...

                      But I bet you can get something similar from a lot of places. Generally the darker the stronger, and the honeys from the nectar/pollen of a certain plant have a taste somewhat reminiscent of the blossoms.

              2. Depends on the application. I like our local producers (Marshall Farms is a favorite for their variety, but they do bring in honeys from other regions). I like eucalyptus for a strong honey, wildflower blends tend to be mild here which are wonderful for some applications. Everyday use, we tend to use a mesquite honey which is rather bold, but not too dark. And cheap. We get one called Wild West, which is almost chocolatey in flavor.

                Don't know anything about health benefits.

                1. As the great grandaughter of a beekeeper I love all honey. But my favorite is the darker honeys. Buckwheat especially. Basswood is good also. It all depends on what tastes good to you.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: KristieB

                    Basswood is another common name for Linden. When they are in flower here, the scent is just beautiful. I'll have to try that if and when I see it...

                  2. I would really have to try a bunch of honeys side by side to know which one I really like the best. In general, I prefer mild honey.

                    The one honey I will NOT eat is chestnut honey. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on Italian chestnut honey because it sounded intriguging. It was vile! I now have a jar of the poison sitting in my cabinet doing nothing because the cost keeps me from throwing it out.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Avalondaughter

                      I'm with you on the chestnut honey, the only chestnut thing I've ever not liked. Tastes like melted plastic to me. And very expensive!

                      1. re: Avalondaughter

                        Have you tried it warm, thinned with a little water and very lightly drizzeled over vanilla ice cream?
                        It is really devine this way.
                        I am a fan of chestnut honey, and my family has even been known to enjoy it on scones. I am partial to the one produced by Badia a Coltibuono though, which is very hard to come by.
                        I understand it's a personal thing though.

                        1. re: rabaja

                          D & D used to sell the Badia, and wonderful it is. My favs are New Zealand manuka, and the very bitter italian one, Corbezolla. Used in extreme moderation in tea, e.g., it is addixctive

                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            I also love the bitter miele di Corbezzolo from Sardinia, which crystallizes readily even at room temperature. I savor it a little bit at a time, right out of the jar.

                            1. re: cheesemaestro

                              Damn, my spelling used to be perfect, thanks for the correction

                          2. re: rabaja

                            LOL about chestnut honey tasting vile for avalon. I suppose honey preferences is a very subjective thing then, because this one happens to one of my favourites too. I also find it having very good affinity with vanilla, which together is one of my most-liked toppings on yogurt.

                            To be fair, though, I have come across many different kinds of chestnut honey. Some tasted rich like caramel, some was just meh.

                            Will try to keep an eye for that Italian brand to try too.

                            1. re: tarteaucitron

                              As I said above, chestnut honey has a bitter edge to it. For people who are sensitive to bitter flavors (like me, and I'm guessing Avalon), it can be unpleasant. I only like it in certain application where either the bitterness is masked or actually desirable.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I'm sure you're right about that, I'm not fond of bitter things at all (broccoli raab? no thanks) and a sort of scorched floral bitterness is what I get from the chestnut honey. I'm even afraid to use it in a honey cake for fear of wasting the other ingredients.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Chestnut honey is best when paired with something that has a strong, yet contrasting flavor. It works wonderfully dabbed on blue cheeses and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Still, I can understand that people who don't tolerate any bitterness in food will not enjoy this honey.

                                  1. re: cheesemaestro

                                    Ok, cheese, I tried it with gorgonzola dolce and that is a pleasant combo. Thanks!

                                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Well, I appreciate you pointing this out, because I keep forgetting how different people can be sensitive to bitterness in some foods and not others. I, for one, cannot stand zucchini at all for its extremely bitter taste, but would crave for what appears to be a mild and pleasant bitter taste in caramel, dark chocolate etc.

                                    different genes can result in a marked difference in bitterness sensitivity, for different people. Especially that I

                                    1. re: tarteaucitron

                                      I have no clue I was trying to say at the end of above post, but I attribute the oversight to the tiny editing window and trying to multi-task.

                                      It was probably along the lines that based on experience, I subscribe to the theory that there is likely a set of genes corresponding to different types of bitterness sensitivity, some more rare than others, and each individual has a certain subset of it.

                                      1. re: tarteaucitron

                                        I'd agree that in some contexts, bitterness is enjoyable, even for someone who tastes bitterness more acutely than most people. For example, I like bitterness in some cocktails. But most bitter things that bitter-sensitive people enjoy are consumed in relatively small quantities (like chocolate) rather than large quantities (like zucchini).

                            2. I love lavender honey from the Napastyle, it is really delicious. I also like orange blossom honey.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mrsjoujou

                                My two favorites, too. Straight from the jar or in my tea...I've found a great tasting organic lavender honey online at:
                                http://phlavender.stores.yahoo.net/cu...
                                My favorite brand of orange blossom comes in the little round jar from Florida (very floral tasting), but I haven't been able to find it anywhere, in the tri-sate area, without the honeycomb in the jar. I'll have to look online for that, too.

                              2. There are honeys like manuka which are said to have powerful wound-healing powers, but all honey is considered to be mildly antiseptic for topical use.

                                As far as consumption is concerned, honey local to your area is supposed to help people with sneezing allergies caused by pollen. A daily oral spoonful of local honey is supposedly helpful for dogs with allergic skin conditions. If you search online for honey you may be able to find a producer. Though allergies are not a concern, I tracked down the nearest apiary, next town over, a couple of years ago. I liked their raw (includes pollen) spring blossom honey but found the summer wildflower honey to taste too herby and medicinal. Among supermarket honeys, I like Golden Blossom, and also orange blossom honies. A friend brough me some Forest Honey (blended from E.U. honies) from Europe, which I found smoky/bitter.

                                1. I like to get honey from our local, in town, producers. It's their bees that we count on to pollinate our gardens. Bees have been in short supply over the last few years due to blights and diseases, so we're happy to have them around to take care of things like our tomatoes and blueberries. Theirs is generally labeled wildflower honey and is available in either glass jars or plastic bears. I've gotten away from the bears, by the way, since they melt in the microwave and i like to warm the honey just a bit before using it. Also, bears raid bee hives for the larvae, not because of the honey.

                                  1. I'm partial to orange blossom honey. Orange blossoms blooming in the spring perfume the air all around where I live and I can definitely taste this in the honey.

                                    1. I brought some honey back from Cameroon last year and it was divine. Very dark, with notes of chocolate and coffee.

                                      1. Here in the states, it's my beloved tupelo honey. :-) For imported, I get this wonderful Greek honey called "Orino Gold" which is from "herbs and thyme." Delicious!

                                        1. My father brought home some cranberry honey from one of his many business trips. I don't know the brand - wish I did! - but it was amazing. Locally, I get orange blossom and mesquite honey at the citrus market or the farmer's market.

                                          1. I have some rabbitbrush honey, which is not for the faint of heart. I kind of like it, but in the same way that I like horseradish and extremely bitter olives.

                                            1. Anyone heard of Poplar Blossom Honey? I started getting it at the farmer's market last year. It's very dark and flavorful. It's $15 for a quart which is a horror to me, though. How much are you guys paying for good local honey at the farmer's market? My husband won't stop sweetening his damn herb tea w/ spendy artisanal honey :-(

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: danna

                                                recently, I've developed a soft spot for Oak honey which is very dark and strong. The brand I get is Villa Vella, from Spain (that being the only brand I've ever come across of Oak honey) but others probably exist (after all there are oak trees and oak forests all over the world, there have to be bees in most of these places). The really odd thing in my liking of this is that, for the most part, I HATE so called "forest" honey or indeed and honey that went through the sapin stage (for those who have never heard of this, it goes something like this. Pine and Fir trees, being conifers, have no real flowers (and hence, no nectaries and no nectar for bees to take to make honey. they do however have aphids who suck the sap. these aphids suck sap so rapidly that they excrete a lot of this through thier posteriors. This excretion called "sapin" (and which is the same as the "honeydew" that ant's like and keep aphid "herds" for) is cosumed by the bees who use it to make the honey. I assume the Oak comes from a similar source (oaks do have flowers, but since they are wind pollinated, I doubt they produce much nectar if any) I also used to like the fir honey that Krokees produced (but which has become difficult to find around me) but toher than that none of the sapin honeys are really to my taste. Other fir honey's, pine honeys, Northofagus (New Zealand beech) "forest" (a term for mixed orgin honey that contaisn a portion of sapin" to me all of these have a dark, wine-y taste I find unpleasant.
                                                Besides the above Oak, I also am fond of Macadamia honey (which does indeed have a sort of nutty taste) black sage (a very light honey, good for when you need to use it in cold drinks) tiaca (a south americna tree) and Pampas (sunflower I believe from very very pure stands in argentina), ulmo (a south americna tree) I also recently got a jar of Patagonian forest honey which I haven't tried yet but which I have reasonably high hopes for (the part of patagoina it comes from still largely has it's native flora, which is actually closer to that of Australia than that of most of the rest of Latin america so I'm hoping it will be closer to Tiaca or Macadamia than most forests.

                                                1. re: danna

                                                  just got some fireweed and some raspberry honey, $5-6 for 20 oz bear or 22 oz jar. from self serve stand in WA.

                                                2. Sourwood and gallberry honeys. I was introduced to these two at the farmers market in Birmingham last summer...I think I was going through a jar every week or two (eating a lot of it straight from the jar)! I'm counting down the days until the market opens up next month so I can get more!

                                                  1. I don't really have a favorite honey per se, but I have been infusing a lot of things into honey lately.

                                                    I eat about a tub of fage 0% yogurt a week and eat it with honey. Lately Ive been infusing lavender, ginger & orange zest into my honeys. Very very tasty and I just use a good local honey that I get at the farmer's market

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: bitsubeats

                                                      How do you go about infusing the honey with, e.g., lavender?

                                                    2. In California, I've enjoyed the sage honey I've found at a farmer's market. On the east coast, my new flavor of the month is Linden, which I find characteristically similar to sage honey, lighter with a hint of citrus. I get my honey in NYC at the Union Square farmer's market from the Tremblay Apiaries stand. I've now gone through 4 of their varieties, the spring flower, summer flower, fall flower, and now the linden. I like them all for different reasons, but I do find that I may be the most partial to the linden. But I may feel differently when I'm close to being done with this jar. There's a vast world of honeys out there, and I'm really enjoying discovering all the variety of flavors.

                                                      Tremblay Apiary honeys: http://www.tremblayapiaries.com/index...
                                                      Another site about honey varieties: http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/hone...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: E Eto

                                                        There is one caveat when sampling new honey's, particuarly if the honey in question is truly wild or of unknown provenence. Though not common, there are plants whose nectar itself contains things that bees aren't sensitive to, but we are, and honey from these areas shoud be avoided. The nectar of some S. American rainforest plants, apparently makes honey that can cause liver damage. Also while I have seen it sold and have in fact tried it, a lot of waht I have read advises against consuming Rhododendron honey in more than trifiling quantitites. Oleander is also supposed to have posionous nectar, but bees are sesitive to that one so Oleander honey is rather rare (becuse the bees that drink it usally don't live long enough to make a lot of honey)

                                                      2. Wow - no one's mentioned my favourite yet - NZ MANUKA honey!!!! it's dark and rich - maybe a bit strong for some people's tastes. But has lots of healing properties to it - they even sell it in tubes at the pharmacy in NZ to squeeze out onto burns/cuts/scrapes. When I've got a cold - I put a tablespoon or two of it in a cup of boiling water and a squeeze of half a lemon. Works wonders for a sore throat!

                                                        1. The past few years I've been preferring Sourwood. It has a nice, well rounded flavor with some depth.

                                                          I recently tried a cinnamon honey from Y. S. Organics. This is a honey flavored with cinnamon and is delicious. Definitely a case of the sum being greater than the parts. Nice in tea or just smeared on bread!

                                                          1. I like Burwheat honey and really good dark Fir tree honey.

                                                            1. It's often that I drive up to Ventura county, there are various reasons, all good and necessary, like taming my buying fix of whatever the flavor of the month is regarding anything, in this case, honey.

                                                              There is a honey farm on the way to Fillmore that I love to stop into. Free samples for tasting really helps me pick and choose. So, my latest purchase was eucalyptus honey, avocado honey, orange honey, sage honey and pumpkin honey. That area is mostly produce farms so the bees have their run of the flowers there I'd suspect. With bees being so necessary to the growers, they're welcomed and according to the honey place, solicited.

                                                              I love honey on my peanut butter sandwiches. The honey that I'm also most fond of is from the Amish area in Pennsylvania that husband and I visited in August. Our friends there have their honey farm and last year I purchased a quart jar of their raw honey. Best honey I'd ever had. So in August going back for a visit and more honey, their bees are dying off too. This time I was given a jar of the raw honey but they suspect that honey, at least theirs, will be at a premiun.

                                                              This is what we just bought a case of last week in Tahoe.
                                                              What it does for a peanut butter sandwich is add a bite to the sandwich, a crunch.
                                                              It also isn't sticky so adding to sauces etc. is without muss. Yea, you read right, I bought a case.

                                                              http://www.honeybitz.com/

                                                              1. Ditto on the Sourwood honey from the Webbs in north Georgia. Absolutely the best honey ever.

                                                                www.mtnhoney.com

                                                                Other honeys leave an afterburn in the back of my throat, but this award winning Sourwood honey is smooth, sweet and rich. Love the stuff. The season is short, so you have to get it when it's there.

                                                                1. Best honey I ever had was French pine honey. It had a dark, full, complicated flavor without being cloying. Honey I hate - orange blossom. Tastes like sugar syrup to me. I usually buy "forest honey" for its darker flavor.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: silkenpaw

                                                                    I get honey from a local old fashined beekeeper... it's labeled "wildflower" honey and it's amazing and it's close to home

                                                                    (save the bees)

                                                                    1. re: silkenpaw

                                                                      Best honey I ever had was French pine honey. It had a dark, full, complicated flavor without being cloying. Honey I hate - orange blossom. Tastes like sugar syrup to me. I usually buy "forest honey" for its darker flavor.
                                                                      | Permalink | Report | Reply
                                                                      By silkenpaw on Oct 17, 2010 04:22PM
                                                                      I was going to mention this last night on here after watching another cooking show, but being reminded of it
                                                                      again with your statement, plus I fell asleep *<
                                                                      Is "cloying" the new buzz word or the word of the month? I don't hear comments on tv cooking shows anymore without someone saying it. I had to look it up much like the word of the month years ago
                                                                      plethera...

                                                                      1. re: silkenpaw

                                                                        Interesting that my honey personality is just opposite to this. I like to pair the honey with something, and found it hard to find a match for pine honey. Its flavour is intriguing but is not something I crave. Just wondering what you usually have it with, if not on its own?

                                                                        On the other hand, orange blossom is lovely, with vanilla ice-cream, custards, bread, cheese etc.

                                                                      2. "Fruits of the Forest"
                                                                        Chestnut
                                                                        Lavender
                                                                        Acacia
                                                                        Wild Sage
                                                                        Thyme

                                                                        I also enjoy infusing honey with chile peppers or rosemary, for example.

                                                                        1. 'Ohi'a lehua (mountain apple).