A good honey has a terroir just like a good wine. So my hundred days of honey are going to take me to a hundred different bee pastures, passing among millions and millions of flowers (someone – less busy than a bee – has calculated that it takes bees visiting 10 million flowers to generate a kilogram of honey) and on a hundred different journeys,
And where does every journey start? At home.
So here’s today’s tablespoon of home-made honey. It comes from my hives on a hillside half an hour outside Pristina, in the Republic of Kosovo. The bees pasture on wild flowers and as I contemplate the spoon in front of me, I imagine those extravagant bouquets concentrated onto one little spoon.
I’ve been taught to judge my honey first by its colour (the seven-fold taxonomy has a kind of modernist poetry when you write it out: water white/ extra white/ white/ extra light amber/ light amber/ amber/ dark amber). Mine is light amber.
Aroma? I’m getting caramel, and something ever so slightly medicinal (I’m guessing there was thyme growing near the hives).
Flavour. Oh good, I get to taste it now. The first sensation of course isn’t taste, but the bulk of the cool spoonful, the feel of it dissolving at blood temperature, flooding your mouth. There are floral tones, something almost as sweet as rosewater, and a lingering almost fruity taste, like a very ripe nectarine. Lovely.
Absence of defects? That’s where I fall down. When we harvested this jar of honey, we forgot to put the muslin in the sieve. The little golden tongue of the spooling honey licked out from the centrifuge spout and down through the wide-mesh sieve and into the jar while we were still fussing around about our equipment. In its molten metal current it swept along bits and pieces from the hive – a wing here, a speck of propolis there. I reckoned it didn’t matter (propolis is supposed to have wonderful curative properties) and that it would be easy to fish things out later, but the flotsam has remained in the jar, held like a fly in (light/) amber. A memory of forgetfulness on a summer’s day last year.
This blog is launched today to celebrate the publication this week of my book, Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo, now available on Amazon .
If you’d like your honey to be featured in the next 99 days, then get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org