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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Himalaya Honey, Rajpura, India (Punjab)

My friend Ben was deployed to Kuwait for a few months and brought me back this Himalaya honey that is produced by Apis India Ltd. He said he found it in a local supermarket. If the label is anything to go by, which is in English and Arabic, this Indian producer seems to have a strong presence in Middle Eastern markets.

Apis India Ltd honey Collection areas, from the Apis India, Ltd website
Apis India, Ltd has a lovely website. Their facilities and production standards are impressive! They produce a variety of honeys (rape, lychee, acacia, sunflower, eucalyptus, wild forest flower and Himalaya, to name a few) and have the capacity to process 100 tons of honey a day. They package in quantities of 25g to 300 kg. I'd like to see what 300 kgs of honey looks like (!) Even with these large quantities they pride themselves on upholding quality standards, with a laboratory in house and a strong quality assurance program. While they produce a lot of honey varieties, they state that they specialize in Himalaya honey.

I do not have a good spatial sense and this extends to being geographically challenged. I vaguely know where things are and know I should know where things are, but I don't always. Luckily I'm not proud and will happily look things up. The Himalayas, for instance. I know they are between India and Nepal but I was surprised to see how broad of a swath they cut across India. If you look at the map, the part of the Himalayas that my honey came from is on the bit just east of Pakistan.

Himalayas from the Himalayas Wiki site
The label says that the Himalaya honey I have is collected from "the floral sources of the vast range of the Himalayas in India," with all honey collected from flowers at a minimum height of 3000 ft. Looking online to see what kind of flowers grow in the Himalayas yields an embarrassment of riches. The better question might be, what doesn't grow in the Himalayas?! Well, to answer that you may need to peruse Adam Stainton's book Flowers of the Himalayas and at over 200 pages, it may take a while.

 In fact there is a valley, a national park called "Valley of Flowers" located in the province of Uttarkhand, India that covers 87 kilometers squared, that explodes with color between June and October. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 and is a destination for people who want to combine hiking with an experience like no other. To get an idea of what it is like, read Trek to Valley of Flowers, a travel log by Thingnam Girija, N. Ulysses and Tabish, or peruse the many photos online of the area. In some cases the colors are so vivid it looks like they've been artificially colored.
Balsam in bloom from Trek to Valley of Flowers blog

The label of my honey does not give a clue as to what floral sources, if any, were major contributors to this honey and my guess is that with so many flowers intermingled with others,"wildflower mix" probably best describes it.
Himalaya honey, Apis India Ltd

It is a warm amber color, and quite thin with no particulate matter or crystals. It has good body and a flavor that builds. First it has a mellow sweetness with tones of molasses and then later menthol, finishing with a robust sweet last taste. It isn't what I expected. I thought it would be much lighter with more floral tones.  Overall, though, a good quality, somewhat complicated honey. Given its consistency it would be well suited for baking, on toast or in hot cereal. It may change the taste of a delicate tea too much, though. I'm not sure where you can get it, other than Kuwait. Given Apis India Ltd's large facility and distribution operation, it may be easier to find than you might think (and well worth it!).

1 comment:

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