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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Miel des Savoies Tilleul (Linden Tree), France

This honey comes to me courtesy of my aunt Stephane (thank you Stephane!). It is Tilleul (Linden tree) honey from the Savoie, Rhône-Alpes region of France, a region I might add, that takes their honey seriously. Don't believe me? Check out the Honey Competition put on by the Syndicat d'Apiculture de la Savoie fondé à Albertville en 1893. The honey goes through rigorous analysis, including chemical analyses. In the most recently posted competition results (2010), 48 judges rated 43 valley honeys and 129 mountain honeys (it is a mountainous region after all) and came to the conclusion that given the exceptional summer they had had, ALL the honeys were of an irreproachable quality and had exceptional taste ("tous les miels présentés étaient d’une qualité irréprochable et d’un goût exceptionnel"). This is the type of competition I like to see: all winners. Well, sort of. In the end they did make further distinctions and gave out gold, silver and bronze medals to those apiarists who were the top of the top. I guess the take home message, though, is that you can't go wrong with a honey from Savoie.

If you'd like more information about the competition and the gold, silver and bronze medalists, here is the link:

But back to the Linden tree honey that I have (which doesn't list the apiarist, so I don't think it was a medalist). Linden trees, as you may know, produce fragrant and nectar-producing flowers, and the honey produced from these flowers has a creamy, pale yellow color (like whipped honey) and a grainy, sweet floral, woody smell. In fact the honey smells a little like Linden flowers. As an aside, Linden flowers are also used for herbal teas. It is a relatively thick honey so you can get a nice twirl of it with a toothpick. The twirl takes a little time to melt in your mouth, but as it is melting it has a mellow, subtle sweetness, followed by a burst of sweetness with a floral undertone. Overall, it isn't a very complicated honey, no unusual, unexpected flavors or radical change in taste as it melts. I think it would be great in baking and in teas, maybe less interesting on hot, buttered toast. In fact, I came across a Linden Honey Apple Pie recipe (that I can't seem to find now) that looks quite nice.

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