What makes honeydew honey special?
Honeydew honey, forest honey, heather honey — all of these are components of autumn flower honey, which is the last harvest of the Lithuanian honey season. It is one of the darker kinds of honey, with a texture and flavour reminiscent of caramel.
In the fall, flowers are no longer as abundant, so bees collect from what remains – flowering forest plants and tree sap. Where do bees get this sap? They are assisted by various beetles, mostly aphids. Aphids eat away at parts of the plant, compromising its external integrity, and honeydew, a kind of sap, oozes out. Bees harvest this honeydew and bring it back to their hives, making honeydew honey. Because it is collected in the forest, it is often called forest honey.
If a beekeeper has the great fortune to find a field of heather and establish a hive there, the forest honey will be more of a heather honey. Producing a specific autumn flower honey is almost impossible because at this time of year, nectar and honeydew is so scarce that even bees living next to a certain kind of plant, once they harvest its nectar, still go looking for more within a radius of several kilometres.
This honey is dark brown in colour like real caramel. Even though in colour, it looks a lot like buckwheat honey, in flavour it is much milder. There are subtle notes of forest plants, but their flavour is not especially strong. This makes it a good choice for those who aren’t great fans of honey.
But don’t let the sweetness deceive you. Depending on the plants it was harvested from, honeydew honey presents a very diverse range of medicinal properties. In folk medicine, it is used to alleviate cold symptoms as well as maintaining digestive function and bolstering other organ systems. Find out more about the composition of honey here.
As with any other honey, the collection site is the main indicator of a honey’s nutrient content. Perhaps it was harvested in an evergreen forest? Or perhaps at the forest’s edge, where all kinds of medicinal herbs grow? Perhaps there are many maple or beech trees in that forest? Or perhaps linden, aspen or rowan trees? Honeydew contains a large share of the plant’s nutrients, which are later transferred to the honey, and through the honey to us.
Enjoy this honey on its own or in coffee, tea or other dishes.
Keep in a cool dark place.
Let true Lithuanian honey pass from family to family, and the warmth we have put into making it pass from heart to heart!