A TASTE OF HONEY

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It’s taken longer than we thought but we’re about to launch our food tours for the spring! Our tour of food producers includes a local honey producer.

Pure, natural and full of goodness, honey is invaluable in cookery both for its sweetening powers and its delectable flavour.

Like wine, honey is a product of its immediate environment. Every honey has its own unique flavour, colour and texture.; acacia honey, pale and very sweet, tastes of heavily scented flowers; thick, creamy lavender honey is pale gold with a delicate hint of sun-kissed lavender; amber-hued heather honey is dense, almost gelatinous, with a faint tang of bitter caramel.

Single flower honey must legally contain a minimum of 75% of nectar from a specific flower. Beekeepers must ensure that the bees gather nectar predominantly from those flowers and this is achieved by transporting the hives to wherever the flowers are plentiful.  The hives are left until the flowering season has finished, after which the beekeeper quickly removes the honey from the hives.

Commercially produced blended honey comes from mixed flower honeys throughout the world and has a uniformly bland flavour intended to appeal to a mass market.  It’s better to buy organic or good quality honey, that hasn’t been filtered or heat-treated, as these processes remove valuable enzymes and nutrients.

Small local beekeepers, honey farms, local markets and farm shops are the best sources of good honey. Keep the jar tightly sealed in a dry place. Honey will keep indefinitely – although it will crystallize during long storage, or if it becomes too cold.  If this happens just stand the jar in hot water for a few minutes and the honey will become liquid again.

Honey has a well-known reputation for prolonging life and acting as a general tonic to the system – many people take a daily dose.  Fructose and glucose (the natural sugars present in honey) are easily digested and rapidly absorbed into the blood stream to provide energy.  Vitamins B1, 2,3 and 6 and folic acid are also present along with a useful amount of vitamin C.  Honey also has minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, traces of pollen and wax, plus several mysterious enzymes  – the amounts of each varying according to which flowers the bees visit.

Honey has been used in cookery since time immemorial – honey cakes were found in a five thousand year old Egyptian tomb!  Honey beer and mead (fermented honey and water flavoured with herbs) were the staple drinks throughout Britain and Ireland in ancient times.  Before the discovery of sugar, honey was an important ingredient in cooking and brewing.  It imparts a new dimension to the flavour of both sweet and savoury foods.  A chunk of gleaming honeycomb eaten with a mature cheese and some walnuts is delicious.

HONEY ICE CREAM

Vary the type of honey to alter the taste and colour of this luscious ice cream, e.g. heather, lavender, chestnut, wildflower.

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 600m whole milk (Gold top or Channel Islands is best)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 175g clear honey
  • 150m double cream

Split the vanilla pod and place in a pan with the milk.  Slowly bring to boiling point over a low heat.  Cover and leave to cool until lukewarm.  Discard the vanilla pod and re-heat the milk until very warm, then remove from the heat.  Whisk the eggs with the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and gradually whisk in the warm milk.  Place the bowl over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water and stir until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Cover the bowl and leave to cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin forming.  Warm the honey slightly and stir into the custard.  Whip the cream until thick but not stiff and fold into the mixture.  Churn in an ice-cream maker or pour into a freezerproof container and freeze until slushy. Thoroughly whisk and return to the freezer.  Repeat once more, then cover and freeze until firm.

Ollies Orchard

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Hi everyone, thought I would introduce you to Ollies Orchard.

They are a local producer of fruit juice, based in Cheshire. Here are some lovely sunny pictures of the beautiful fruit they grow and then use in their juice.  We have had a lovely autumn and the fruit in Cheshire has been bountiful.

Take a look at their website to learn more.

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Bad Bees joins the Trail!

bax-beesA big thank you to all at Bax Bees for joining us in our Food Trail of local producers.  They produce local, natural honey that Winnie the Pooh would enjoy.  You can sample different honeys and learn about how the bees produce honey.

Gourmet Food Trails launches

Carol and I are excited to launch Gourmet Food Trails.  Gourmet Food Trails hopes to encourage people to discover the food of Cheshire. We are fortunate to have a wide variety of locally produced food.  We are able to offer you the opportunity to visit the producers who lovingly craft their produce into delicious treats for us.

We have a variety of producers and each week we will introduce you to them.  First off there is Chorlton Cheese, a small family run business in Malpas.  Guy the cheese maker makes small batches of cheese and holds cheese making courses.  He has agreed to let us visit him and he will explain how he produces his cheese.

I first met Guy at our local produce market in Kingsley , Cheshire.  Guy has a great display of cheeses and one enormous cheese which later I found out to be for display purposes only! He always takes time to talk to his customers and offers delicious samples.