Nibbling on apple slices dipped in honey during Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish New Year -- symbolizes hope for a sweet new year. But there's a lot more to honey than just age-old symbolism and sugar. In fact, any visit to a local farmer's would reveal that there are numerous varietals of honey, and each varietal features different flavor profiles.
We recently visited the Yellow Green Farmers Market and spoke to Alexandra Kaufman of Honey Bee-Z-Ness about the best ways to shop for local honey.
Most supermarkets carry only wildflower honey, because it's a general honey made from numerous flowers. But Kaufman partners with local farmers and places her beehives near different sources. This, in turn, creates distinct honey varietals.
Local beekeepers can walk you through extensive tastings of what South Florida has to offer: orange blossom, palmetto, mangrove, avocado, eucalyptus, tupelo, and buckwheat. In terms of flavor, mangrove honey is slightly salty, while buckwheat honey is thick and dark brown, with notes of licorice and chocolate.
Tupelo honey is a honey produced from tupelo trees along the southeast United States. In northwest Florida, tupelo honey is primarily commercialized along the Ogeechee, the Apalachicola, and the Chattahoochee Rivers. The tupelo varietal is usually more expensive than the rest, because this honey will never granulate.
Local honey also has added health benefits, because most supermarket honey is heated and pasteurized. Kaufman explains that, during this process, many of the beneficial enzymes and nutrients found in raw honey are killed. These enzymes and nutrients can aid the cure or treatment for a long list of health issues, including the common cold.
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Local honey adds depths of flavors to foods on any day of the year. A dollop of Greek yogurt can benefit from a drizzle of orange blossom. Buckwheat honey can be added to marinades or braising liquids for beef. As for me, this Sunday, I'll be dunking my apple slices in my favorite choice: mildly flavored, local, raw tupelo honey.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.