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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Australian High Country Honey, Beechworth Honey, Corowa, Australia

I have a large jar (17.6 oz) of Australian High Country Honey from Beechworth Honey. They have a great website that outlines their history and their philosophy among other things, and you can buy their products online, which are extensive. They have everything from different kinds of honey, to honey lotions and soaps, to sparkling honey nectar, to beeswax candles, to honey candies. They also list recipes on line, offer guided tours of their facility and surrounds, and offer an e-newsletter. Quite a production.

From the history outlined on their site, their honey business started in the 1880s with Benjamin Robinson. He was mining for gold at Beechworth but turned from being a miner to being a apiarist who supplied 'liquid gold' to the mining community for 'gold gold.' His family has continued the business (presumably not for 'gold, gold' anymore, alas) ever since.

The area seems to be made for honey. It has an abundance of flora, including eucalypt forests. The range of honey that they offer reads like an exotic menu: Blue Gum, Black Box, Gray Iron Bark, Red Stringy Bark, Snow Gum, Tasmanian Leatherwood. That must be some eucalypt forest!

Flash forward four generations and Jodie and Seven Goldsworthy are continuing in the family business. The Beechworth Honey factory is located near Corowa in New South Wales and forms the center of an extensive honey producing network. If you are interested, here is their website:

I have 'Australian High Country' honey and didn't know what the 'High Country' was all about until I looked it up. Apparently Australia has 'Australian Alps' that stretch for 400 km from Canberra, through southern New South Wales, and along the Great Divide into eastern Victoria. The million and a half hectares of rocky landscape is home to national parks and wild life protected areas. This wild country is also the setting for the famous Australian poem written by Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, 'The Man from Snowy River.'

The Australian High Country honey that I have is a warm, burnt orange-red color. It is very thick. It has a very smooth texture, almost glassy, and takes time to dissolve. It isn't too sweet. It has a very subtle background taste of molasses, with buttery overtones and a woody, slightly smoky, aftertaste. This is a hearty, husky honey- robust and very satisfying. It would be good in hot cereal or in tea.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Boyds and the Bees Honey, Waltham, MA

This honey is a rare find. I got it from a chance meeting with Maria who, amongst many other things, does beekeeping as a hobby in Waltham. She has three hives and the honey she collects is for family and friends- so, you won't be able to buy or find any (alas). I got to talking with Maria one night and learned a lot about beekeeping, and the ins and outs of being a part-time beekeeper. She's nearly convinced me that I could beekeep in the urban suburbs of Boston. I'm not sure if my neighbors would be too happy to have a hive next door in a tiny postage-stamp yard, but Maria says that they wouldn't notice. I think some of my neighbors (especially the ones in the condos out back) have binoculars at the ready, so I think they'd notice. They notice if I put the trash out too early, after all. I think they'd notice me wearing beekeeping garb puffing smoke into a box. Even so, I'm starting to think about it. Perhaps I could camouflage the hive to look like lawn furniture (a small side table?), or strategically place it so that it is hidden somewhere- in my itty bitty yard, this won't be easy.

But back to Maria's honey. It is a rich, golden color and if you look closely it has small to tiny flecks in it- probably bits of hive that got through the filters. It is surprisingly thick and my toothpick is happy to stand in it indefinitely. It has a wonderful texture- very creamy, and it dissolves slowly. It has a fresh first taste of floral and something herby but herby-sweet not herby-bitter. The closest I can think of is that it is like sweet grass. The after taste is subtle, an echo of the first taste and then you are just left with a lingering sweetness. This is a very nice, and somewhat complex honey. I asked Maria what the flower source(s) is/are and she says she can't really say- whatever is in the neighborhood but she did mention that there are raspberry and blueberry bushes nearby. She lives in a quiet, family, suburban neighborhood with some mature trees and some with larger, wilder lots. Next time I'm there I'll walk around and see if I can identify other likely sources. She says she also does two collections a year- spring and end of summer/fall (if I remember properly) and that the sources and subsequently the honey flavor is quite different depending on the season in which it was collected. I'm not sure when the honey I have was collected but it is likely that it is from this summer/fall.

This honey would be great in tea, over hot cereal, on hot toast or anywhere else. I think it might also be a good honey to make honey candies with.

Thanks Maria for sharing some with me!