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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Balparmak flower honey (çiçek balı), Eastern/Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey

Friends from Turkey, Net and Ayhan, brought me this honey from Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia. It is processed, packaged and distributed by Balparmak, the largest brand of honey in Turkey, a brand of Altiparmak, Inc. Balparmak works with 10,000 beekeepers across Turkey to produce regional honeys and assure quality with a state of the art laboratory facility. They started exporting their honey to European countries and the US in 2003. Their honey has also won numerous awards, the latest being the International Taste and Quality Institute (ITQI) superior taste award in 2013.

Regions of Turkey
 Balparmak has a website (luckily with an English version) and it is clear that they are real honey enthusiasts: their mission statement is "to protect the naturalness and purity of honey, the most miraculous food in the world, make it an indispensable element of quality living, and thus give honey the highest value it so richly deserves." Well said.

They also state that given Turkey's diverse terrain and climate it has an abundance of varieties of floral sources and honey is produced in every region of the country. However, monofloral sources are limited to specific regions and collected only at certain times of the year (e.g. chestnut honey from the Black Sea coastline). 

Anatolian wild flowers (from the Balparmak website photo gallery)

My honey is a wild flower honey with multiple flower sources from Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia. The combined regions are pretty big. In fact, the Eastern Anatolia region is the largest geographical region in Turkey (surface area of 163,000 km2). It is a mountainous area, with an average altitude of 2,000 meters, severe and long, snowy winters. It is mostly devoted to raising animals, but does have some agriculture (cotton, tobacco and sugar beets).

In contrast Southeastern Anatolia is geographically the smallest region of Turkey (75,000 km2). The terrain for most of the area is made up of valleys, plateaus, plains, steppes and mountains. It is known for its long, dry, hot summers and cold, rainy winters. Although the westernmost area has a Mediterranean climate. Apart from honey, the region produces wheat, barley, lentils, tobacco, cotton and pistachio nuts. 

All this to say, that it is impossible to know what wildflowers are the source of this honey. The Balparmak website doesn't really specify either. I suspect given the large operation of Balparmak they likely blend honeys from different producers over large geographic but similar areas to produce large volumes of a consistent product.  As the Balparmak website stated, their wild flower honey is "a blend of nature." 

Balparmak Flower Honey

The honey is a light, clear, soft, yellow color. It has no particulate matter, which shouldn't be surprising since the label makes a point of stating that the honey is filtered. It is quite thick and easy to spin on a toothpick, and has a smooth texture. It has a clean, uncomplicated, sweet consistent taste as it melts, with a subtle floral and menthol after taste. I think that when most people think of what honey tastes like, they think of what this honey tastes like. It would be great in hot tea, hot cereal, in baking, or right out of the jar. Since the Balparmak website states that they are exporting honey to the US and Europe, you may be able to find it in food stores, although it may be in only specialty food stores; I've never seen it in my local supermarkets. Alternatively, a trip to Turkey may be required. I understand it can be found in supermarkets throughout the country.


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