BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
A spoonful of wildflower honey on a warm biscuit, a dollop of clover honey in your tea, and a drizzle of blueberry honey in salad dressings are made possible because of honey bees. These hard-working insects are responsible for pollinating most fruits, vegetables, legumes and more. To produce a pound of honey, bees must visit some two million flowers. Those floral blossoms help create more than 300 varieties of honey ranging from clover and sage to blueberry and buckwheat. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding honey and honey and honeybees.
All honey you buy is pure honey
Not true. Honey fraud is quite common. Some honey you buy at the grocery store has been adulterated with high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners, or has been watered down. In April of 2014, the FDA ruled that any honey that was adulterated by the addition of sugar or corn syrup could not be labeled as “pure honey” but would have to label it as a “blend.” You can count on honey from your farmers’ market to be pure local honey. The beekeepers at your farmers’ market do not add anything to their honey and stand by its purity.
Crystallized honey has gone bad
Crystallization, or granulation, of honey is the natural process of honey preserving itself. Typically, honey contains natural sugars and around 20% water. Because this is saturated, the glucose may separate from the water and form crystals. However, the honey is largely unchanged and remains just as tasty. An easy way to de-crystalize it is to remove the lid and microwave for 20 to 30 seconds.
White foam on honey means it is not fresh
The white “foam” that appears at the top of honey is simply air. This “foam” is a result of tiny air bubbles in the honey escaping to the top of the bottle.
All species of bees produce honey
Only 5% of the 20,000 species of bees in the world produce edible honey. Most bees only produce enough honey for their own survival, but not enough to harvest it for human usage.
Filtered honey is not as authentic as raw unfiltered
Raw honey comes straight from the honeycomb. The beekeeper filters the honey just enough to remove small bits of pollen and beeswax. Filtered, or pasteurized, honey is clear and smooth. The pasteurization process (adding high heat) increases its shelf-life and kills yeast cells that can affect the taste of the honey, but it is still pure honey.
It’s ok to give babies honey
Honey should never be fed to infants under one year of age because their digestive tract has not developed enough to fight off honey’s natural bacteria. Honey is otherwise a safe and wholesome food for older children and adults.
You’ll find only pure, unadulterated local honey at your Martinez Farmers Market from Miss Bee Haven who harvests the honey from bees roaming the fields in Brentwood and surrounding areas. They have over 100 hives in locations that are full of flowers to forage year-round and that are vital to the strength and health of their bees – and the environment. Between the cherry trees, peach trees, blackberries and star thistle fields their bees make a most delicious and diverse honey. You won’t find better quality, purity, or variety than at your local farmers market where you can trust the farmer who harvested it.
Blueberry Lemonade with Mint
2 cups blueberries (plus a handful frozen for garnish)
1 mint sprig (plus 4 more for garnish)
¼ cup honey
½ cup lemon juice (juice from 3-4 small lemons)
3 cups water (or sparkling water)
A generous pinch of salt
Muddle berries, honey, salt and mint until all the blueberries are squashed. Scrape the mixture through a fine mesh strainer with a rubber spatula, leaving only the skins and mint sprig. Be sure to scrape the underside of the strainer. Combine the blueberry juice mixture, lemon juice, and water and stir. Serve over ice and garnish with a mint sprig and some frozen blueberries in each of four glasses. For an adult beverage, add 1 jigger of gin per glass. Serves four. For more farmers market recipes visit pcfma.org/eat.
PLEASE NOTE: The Martinez Farmers Market has changed its hours of operation. We are now open 9AM to 2PM for your shopping convenience.