What’s the buzz? Honey is amazing. Where should you buy it? Locally, of course!
Before I get into where to find local honey on the Seacoast, let’s go back to basics.
How Honey is Made (a review from 5th grade science class):
- To start, Mrs. Honeybee’s sole function is to be a gatherer. She tirelessly flies in a 5-mile radius each day collecting nectar from flowers. She sucks nectar from each flower through her tube-like tongue called a proboscis and stores the nectar in one of her two stomachs.
- Finally, she arrives home at the hive and the house-bee sucks the nectar from her stomach and chews it for 30-minutes adding enzymes that break the nectar down to simple syrup. Then, they spread it over the honey comb.
- Meanwhile the pollen on Mrs. Honeybee is also used as protein for the baby bee larva. Nothing is wasted.
To make a single pound of honey, bees visit two million flowers and fly 55,000 miles. Clearly these are industrious creatures. Bees, they’re just like moms!
I am not a honey expert so I will keep this short. However, you can “bee” sure I am a honey consumer and enthusiast. Here are some helpful tips:
- Raw honey is best described as honey “as it exists in the beehive”. Raw honey comes right from the honeycombs of the hive. After extracted from the hive, it is poured over a mesh cloth (or a centrifuge) it to separate it from impurities like beeswax and dead bees. Once strained, raw honey is bottled and ready to be enjoyed.
- Raw honey is said to contain antioxidants, wound healing properties, boost overall immunity, natural allergy relief, antibacterial qualities, and is a prebiotic (Fun Fact: probiotics eat prebiotics to support good bacteria in our gut). Also, it contains pollen and maybe even some bee wings. If you’d like to delve deeper into the discussion of honey and the health benefits, you can read more about Raw Honey benefits at Organic.com or LiveStrong.com
- Pasteurized Honey is heated to kill some of the microorganisms, enzymes and bacteria that live in honey. Furthermore, heating allows the honey to remain in liquid form longer. Generally, doctors to tell parents to not let their children eat honey until they are a year old due to a worry that raw honey may contain harmful bacteria. Furthermore, Dr. Greene’s website speaks to benefits of raw honey and the need to be careful with children under 1-3 years of age.
- For the most part you can buy raw, pasteurized, ultra filtered, honey bears, and honey combs in the grocery store. As always, it’s important to read the label carefully to know what you are buying. While there may be a good selection of raw honey, it may not be from a local hive. Avoid terms like all-natural as they really don’t mean anything. The ingredient list is far more informative than any catchy front label.
The Buzz: where to find local honey on the Seacoast:
Not only does this golden honey come in an easy to spoon out mason jar (who has the time to squeeze honey out of a plastic bear!) but getting this honey is an art form, literally! The Word Barn was created by Sarah Anderson to promote sharing of the written and the spoken word among a community. Additionally, it is also one of the venues for Bright + Lyon Productions of musical concerts that bring nationally touring artists to the northeast. So getting your honey at The Word Barn is very special. In fact, the Word Barn showcases their poetry and music here. And yes, you can drive by and pick up some golden goodness on your way down Newfields Road, but wouldn’t you rather attend The Silo Series on May 9 to listen to 3 powerful poets? Or buy tickets to an upcoming concert like Maya de Vitry on Sun, May 19? After all, this is the ultimate in local experience. Visit them at The Word Barn on Facebook. (Side note: You can also buy Word Barn Honey at The Vernon Family Farm in Newfields daily from 9am-6pm).
This amber delight has been made by 2 lovebirds for over 20 years! Dan and JoAnne Phillips have been keeping bees and making raw honey in NH’s small town of Kensington and now manage over 100 bee colonies. “The quality is a direct result of their dedication, passion and expertise” says the market at Eastman’s Corner where you can buy their honey year round at 267 South Road, Kensington.
Not only are they located in Rye and produce honey, but this apiary produces also works with local farms like Saltbox Farm in Stratham to pollinate their blueberry crops. Plus, if you have a swarm that needs a home, call SeaBee Honey (bee swarms are fascinating…one occurred in Market Square, Portsmouth last June).
Though the farm is located in Lee, find Hollister Family Farm honey at the Dover’s Famers’ Market. Visit Sundays from 10am-2pm at Henry Law Park and Wednesdays 2:15-6:00pm at the Dover Chamber of Commerce parking lot 550 Central Ave.
Not all honey is meant to be spread on toast! Sometimes called “the drink of the gods” or “honey wine” mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey. In fact, in it’s most basic state it is comprised of honey, water, and yeast or bacteria culture. Of course you can add flavor to it using fruit or spices. In Greek mythology, warriors were given mead to enhance their healing powers after a battle. After all, if it’s good enough for a Greek God, then it’s good enough for me! To be sure, if you have not tried Mead yet, head to your local NH Wine and Liquor Outlet to purchase Moonlight Meadery’s Wild Honey Blueberry or Kurt’s Apple Pie. Or better yet, visit their factory in Londonderry for a Tour & Tasting (do I feel a mommy field trip brewing?).
In addition, check out Seacoast Eat Local website for your town’s Farmers’ Market. These markets are always where to find local honey on the Seacoast!
The Bee’s Knees: Favorite Honey Recipes
Easy as 1-2-3 Cheese Board
It’s SUPER simple and great for an in-house date night with your hubby, entertaining guests, or a quick-n-easy dinner for kids. Plus it combines my two loves – cheese and honey!
1. Cut some nice bread into wedges, points or bite size square (my preference is Tuscan Pane from Trader Joe’s or Market Basket). Spread olive oil, salt + pepper on bread and lightly toast.
2. Pull out a good sized plate or a cutting board. Cut up some of your favorite cheese and an apple. Then, add a dollop of mustard or maybe some flavored salt to the plate. But the piece d’resistance is the honey: use Seacoast honey, of course! I use a smallish dish and add it to the center to the plate. Additionally, when feeding the kiddos, I add lots of apple for them to dip into the honey.
3. Once the bread is done toasting start eating.
*My husband asked me to point out that he prefers Mike’s Hot Honey on his cheese board.
**If you would rather go out to dinner and love a good cheese board, my recommendation is Blue Moon Evolution in Exeter. They include local honey, cheese, pickled veg, compote, charcuterie if so desired. It is un-Bee-lievable!
Vodka Honey Bubble from Absolut
- 1 1/2 Part Absolut Vodka
- ⅔ Part Seacoast Honey
- ⅔ Part Lemon Juice
- Champagne/Sparkling Wine
- Add vodka, honey and lemon juice into a shaker. Shake and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Top with champagne/sparkling wine and garnish with a wedge of lemon or sprig of lavender.