Honey is a sweet treat that is enjoyed in many different ways. You can find many numerous varieties to try. And, if you think all of it tastes the same, you are in for a new experience. Individual varieties differ in color, aroma and flavor. So, how do you pick the best honey in the world for your table? Well, you have to understand how they vary and then try a lot of different ones!
Multifloral Honey VS Monofloral
Honey bees collect plant nectar from millions of blooms to make honey. Most honey is multifloral. This means it is made by the bees from many nectar sources that are all mixed together in the hive.
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Hundreds of different nectars can be used to produce even one jar. It depends on the location, season and foraging availabilities.
This is why regular honey is called “Wildflower”. Many different flowers contribute to the final product. It can vary widely in color and taste from year to year.
But, not all varieties are made with numerous nectar sources. Monofloral honey is often called “specialty or artesian” because it is produced using primarily one nectar source.
Beekeepers produce this special crop by placing bees in an area with a large bloom of a particular nectar source.
A small percentage of other nectars may be present – because you can not control where the bees fly. However, these specialty products have a more uniform taste and color.
Beekeepers with the opportunity to produce specialty crops can charge a premium price. More work and hive manipulation is needed so expect to pay more per ounce. These products are always in limited supply.
Most of the jars in your local supermarket will be blended honey. Large producers mix barrels of light and dark product to create the blend. This allows them to provide the consumer with a consistent product that usually looks and tastes the same.
While wildflower honey will vary great from one harvest to the next. Monofloral varieties offer a more consistent flavor.
Characteristics of Top Honey Varieties
Just like the color of honey, flavor and aroma are determined primarily by the nectar source. Some types are sweeter than others due to a higher percentage of fructose vs glucose.
How do you know which is the best honey? Honestly, the answer to that question is not an easy one. Determining the best flavor qualities of any food is subject to personal preference. Everyone’s taste buds are different.
Of course, you may prefer different flavors depending on what you plan to use the honey for such as baking or as a sweetener. Maybe you want to make some of these really cute honey gummy bears.
Popular Artesian Varieties
Some regions are popular for producing large quantities of special crops. These varieties are not necessarily “better” than regular wildflower.
However, they have more consistent characteristics that some folks prefer.
- Acacia – Western US, Europe and China. Pale yellow color with a sweet floral taste
- Blueberry – New England, Europe. Light amber color with a fruity flavor and buttery aftertaste
- Chestnut – Southern Europe. Dark amber color. Can have a bitter taste but high in minerals.
- Clover – United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand. Color is yellow to white with a floral flavor. Popular to use in blends.
- Fireweed – Western US, Canada, Europe. Pale amber color to clear. Tea like flavor tones.
- Lavender – France and Spain. Golden color with flowery overtones in aroma and flavor.
- Mesquite – South Western US. Like to dark color with a smokey scent and unique flavor.
- Orange Blossom – Florida, Texas, California, Arizona and New Zealand. Color is medium amber with a distinctive orange taste.
- Sourwood – Produced in the Appalachian Region of the US. Light to clear color with a buttery aftertaste. Sourwood is popular in the region.
- Tupelo – Southern US. Light amber in color. Tupelo has a very noticeable spicy flavor. It is very sweet.
How to Choose the Best for You
Deciding which one, you like best will require some experimentation. Also, you may find that you prefer different varieties depending on the use.
In general, light colored ones are milder in flavor while darker colors have a bolder taste. Some people prefer light varieties for table honey.
It looks pretty and tastes good drizzled on other types of food. Dark bold varieties are delicious when paired with cheeses or used in baking.
And maybe, you will prefer regular wildflower that is a blend of so many different tastes. It is fun to try wildflower from different locations around the country and notice the great variety of taste and color.
When you begin shopping for the best one, read the label carefully. The label should only have one ingredient listed – honey. Don’t be fooled by words such as natural or pure. Some producers play loose and free with those terms.
Also pay attention to the country to origin. When possible, choose those produced in the United States. The exception of course is monofloral varieties that are only produced in other countries.
Experiment with samples or small jars of different types before investing a lot of money in a large jar.
Consider creating your on little honey bar for friends to taste. It is a lot of fun to see the different opinions about which one is the best honey in the world.