Search This Blog

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wild Rose Honey, Golden Angels Apiary, Singers Glen, VA

My family did a road trip to the DC region recently and I picked up this wild rose honey at a local organic supermarket near Ellicott City, MD. It is produced by Golden Angels Apiary in Singers Glen, VA.

From a websearch I discovered that Dennis and Neva Whetzel are behind Golden Angels Apiary, and they produce a variety of honeys including: wild rose, clover, wildflower, tulip poplar, sourwood, thistle, and orange blossom.
Singers Glen, Virginia is a small, rural village with about 2500 residents located in the western part of Rockingham County in the Shenandoah Valley, 8 miles west of Harrisonburg, and also west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is basically one road, the Singers Glen Road, where you can find the post office, a recycling center, the Singers Glen school, the volunteer fire department, a few stores, and the Methodist and Baptist churches.

It was founded in 1804 when Joseph Funk, originally from Pennsylvania and the grandson of the first Mennonite Bishop of the United States (Henry Funck), built a log house there along with other descendents of the German Anabaptists who were persecuted during the European Wars of Religion. The community was originally called Mountain Valley but was renamed Singers Glen in 1860 when it got its first post office. Its claim to fame, and the reason its being a registered historic settlement, is that Joseph Funk printed and published the "Harmonica Sacra" in Singers Glen in 1847, a classic Mennonite hymnal that is still in use and in print today. As such Singers Glen is credited with being the birthplace of Southern Gospel music. Mr. Funk also started a singing school at Singers Glen and began training young men of "high moral character." Of interest, and perhaps in keeping with producing young men of high moral character, Singers Glen has more churches than commercial establishments, but if the truth be told, this may be due mostly to the lack of commercial establishments.  Also of interest, but mostly for archers, Singers Glen has a well established and family friendly archery club, the Bowbenders club:

The area surrounding Singers Glen is described as "beautifully scenic" and it isn't hard to see why.


The honey I have is wild rose. Wild rose actually refers to a variety of flowering shrubs including Rosa acicularis, Rosa arkansana, and Rosa virginiana (among others). Unfortunately the Golden Angels Apiary doesn't have a website, and I couldn't find out any more information about their production of their flower sources.

It is a clear, mellow orange-yellow honey with a very thin consistency. I was expecting (and hoping) for a floral rose flavor, but instead got a simple, strong, honey sweetness with no obvious floral or other undertones. Its flavor is consistent throughout with no changes in after taste.It is a good quality honey that offers honest to goodness honey taste. After repeated tastings I think I taste a very subtle molasses-black licorice flavor near the end, but it is VERY subtle and it may just be my imagination. This honey would do well in tea, in baking or anywhere else you need a robust honey taste.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wildflower honey (fleurs sauvages), Api M.D., Mansonville, Québec, Canada

No visit is complete when we visit my in-laws' cottage on lake Memphramagog in the Eastern Townships of Québec without a walk to Jewett's store. The cottage is in Vale Perkins, which, as far as I can tell, means it is within walking distance of Jewett's. There isn't any semblance of a town or anything called Vale Perkins. There is no sign "entering" Vale Perkins. It is just a dot on a map that corresponds to the crossroads where you'll find Jewett's store. It is too bad the town isn't called Jewett's because then it would be less confusing.

Jewett's is a common name in the region. As you make your way from Mansonville (the closest real town with a post office and everything) to Vale Perkins you pass quite a few farms owned by different Jewett's. I know that when I start seeing wooden signs with the name Jewett's on them I'm not far from the lake or the cottage. 

Jewett's store is a sight to behold and well worth the walk, even on a sweltering, hot day. Although their stock may have changed over the years, the store probably hasn't since before the beginning of time. It is a throwback to dry goods stores in the wild west. The floors are made of weathered wide-planked oak and creak when you walk on them. Shelves line every wall, and every nook is full of something. It is a testimony to efficient use of space. They have it all: from fresh eggs, to local cheeses, cake mixes, snorkels and fireworks. If Jewett's doesn't have it, you probably don't need it.

This past visit, on the road to Vale Perkins, I noticed bee hives (see below). When I did my pilgrimage to Jewett's I asked about them and Ms. Jewett showed me a shelf behind the cash where they stock local honey, saying she had some of it for sale. I picked wild flower. [There were a few other varieties but I'll save them for future visits.]

The apiarist is "Api M.D." and apart from saying the honey is wildflower, a product of Québec and out of Mansonville, the label doesn't give any other information. I searched online to get more but came up empty.

On a hike in the area, I looked for wildflowers. Here is what I found. Don't ask me if I know the names of anything, I don't. On a few flowers I saw honey bees, so it looks like I was in the right place.

The honey itself is a very runny, clear, slightly orange honey. It is very thin and takes a bit of effort to get any to stay on a toothpick long enough to sample. It has a very smooth taste. It is very sweet and has a floral undertone, and then it melts and is gone. There are no complicated flavors, it is just pure throughout. If you need a very runny honey- to spread on something or drip into tea, this is a good choice. The flavor is subtle and may add to an herbal tea (like camomile) but won't overpower whatever you add it to. As far as I know you can only get it at Jewett's store; take note: it is on a shelf, behind the cash in the front.

On this visit to Jewett's I also got another honey from "Cousin Bob" in Ontario (a cousin of the Jewett's who has a bed and breakfast and apiary). In the same time frame I was asked by a fellow blogger, and honey-phile, Elizabeth Gowing if I might like to guest blog on her site. She is an intrepid writer, traveler, beekeeper, and adventurer, and I couldn't say yes to her fast enough (!) She showcases honey and honey recipes and I used Bob's honey (a very good quality table honey) in a comforting tea recipe from Najmieh Batmanglij’s wonderful cookbook “Silk Road Cooking, A Vegetarian Journey.” Check out Elizabeth's blog, 100 days of honey and see my guest blog spot. Be prepared for some exotic honey recipes!