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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lemon Verbena Honey, The Herb Lyceum at Gilsons Kitchen, Groton, MA

I got this honey at a local farmer's market. The jar isn't anything to write home about. It is small and glass with a white plastic screw top, but the label is quite attractive. It reminds me of arty homemade labels made for homemade jam. It has a delicate border and within it is simply stated "The Herb Lyceum Kitchen, Lemon Verbena Honey" and in smaller font: "The Herb Lyceum at Gilsons, Main Street, Groton, MA."

The Herb Lyceum, according to their website ( is a renovated carriage house on the homestead of the Gilson family that lies within 4 acres of herbs, gardens and flowering trees. It was originally designed as an herbal school for the promotion of useful plants but they have since branched out and offer their beautiful setting and restaurant for retreats, weddings and other small gatherings. Although the gardens and the restaurant are the prime attractions, they also seem to make honey.

The Lemon Verbena honey is a clear golden color, and very thin and runny. No amount of twirling a toothpick in it will get you a twirl of honey. In the honey are nearly candied bits of green herbs, presumably lemon verbena. I was not aware that lemon verbena flowers were a flower source for honey bees and now I'm suspicious that this lemon verbena honey is actually wildflower honey with lemon verbena thrown in. This isn't a bad idea on the surface, given that the herb might diffuse a lemony tang to the honey, but as a purist, I'm somewhat put off. It feels like cheating. The honey, unfortunately, has no lemon verbena taste. Nada. Nil. None. It has, however, an honest, sweat, pure honey flavor. The candied green herbs floating around are difficult to avoid and interfere with the smooth texture. I think this honey would have been better off without the lemon verbena. I suppose that with all good ideas you don't know how good (or bad) they are until you try them. Note to self: next time check for floating herbs in honey before buying.

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