I am an inveterate honey lover. I’ve written about comb honey and chestnut honey, but one of my favorites is forest honey.
Unlike regular honeys which are manufactured by bees with collected nectar from flowers, forest honey is made from honeydew, excreted by sap-sucking insects. In short, aphid poop.
While it might be off-putting to think of eating the excrement of bugs, otherwise known as frass, honeydew is in a separate category. And are honey-lovers any more disgusted by the thought of eating bee vomit?
Wikipedia describes Forest Honey thus:
Instead of taking nectar, bees can take honeydew, the sweet secretions of aphids or other plant-sap-sucking insects. Honeydew honey is very dark brown, with a rich fragrance of stewed fruit or fig jam, and is not as sweet as nectar honeys. Germany’s Black Forest is a well-known source of honeydew-based honeys, as are some regions in Bulgaria, Tara in Serbia, and Northern California in the United States. In Greece pine honey, a type of honeydew honey, constitutes 60–65% of honey production. Honeydew honey is popular in some areas, but in other areas, beekeepers have difficulty selling honeydew honey, due to its stronger flavor.
When I was a kid in New York, living in the Germantown area of upper Lexington Avenue, we had a lot of wonderful stores in the neighborhood. There was a German deli across the street, Jewish delicatessens, and many others. On occasion my mother would bring home a little wooden box filled with comb honey:
… and that’s what we called it, because I was around six or so, and it seemed an apt description. Not from the store, not in a bottle, but right from the beehive. And what a treat it was.
I haven’t had it for decades, and recently I started looking. Places like Whole Foods and Sprouts claim to carry it at certain times of the year, but I’ve never seen it there. So I started looking online. You can find it, but by the time you add shipping prices, it becomes too extravagant an indulgence.
Enter the local farmer’s market:
Got some today, along with some other yummy breads and berries and vegetables and a tamale for lunch and mini-doughnuts fried right in front of us in the most wonderful automatic doughnut maker that made me think of Homer Price and his grand adventures, courtesy of Robert McCluskey:
The honey was just as good as I always remembered it, and the wax still got stuck in my teeth. Hooray for farmer’s markets!