Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

June 18, 2014

Honey, Honey: Thrilled by depth, nuance of sticky sweet

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The kid tasters make a face. Chewing the honeycomb was "like gum" at first but now they're scanning for a waste-paper basket. Next up — raw honey. Raw honey is out of the comb, but uncooked and unheated. Health purists like raw honey because it retains pollen, enzymes, propolis, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and minerals lost to heat processing. Bee-lievers credit honey, particularly raw honey, with tamping down allergies, preventing cancer, reducing systemic inflammation and improving gastrointestinal function.

All honey contains antibacterial properties through hydrogen peroxide. Some honey, by virtue of the locality-specific plants, offers other antibacterial components, like New Zealand's manuka honey.

Oryana shoppers tend to support local connections to the honey for philosophical and allergen-reducing reasons, Summers said.

"For people who want the health benefits, raw, local honey offers the most bang for the buck," Summers said.

Flavors also vary, depending on the pollen and nectar used to make the honey. Janet Chown tried some deep brown buckwheat honey — she'd heard the molasses-like honey was "healthier," she said.

"I had no idea it would be so good. It's way different," Chown said. "You could use this instead of maple syrup on pancakes."

John Studzinski picks the buckwheat as his favorite, too, a surprise to Summers because buckwheat isn't as sweet. Studzinski, 7, has a very "sophisticated palate," she said.

Star thistle honey is another local favorite, Summers said.

Flow is another important factor. Honey's squeezable golden coils often require an amount of heating, as the substance eventually crystallizes from into a whitish solid.

Others prefer creamed honey, a dripless spread created by adding granulated honey crystals to the honey and "whipping it up," Summers said.

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