Hudson Valley Honey: Where to Buy It and How to Bake With It (Recipes)

The buzz on locally produced honey — and how to use it



Keep this one in your back pocket for the next trivia night: In order to produce one pound of honey, a bee must collect nectar from two million flowers. And you thought that you were overworked! But luckily, even a tiny bit of this sweet treat comes packed with nutrients. Raw, or unheated, honey is loaded with carbohydrates and potassium, as well as a number of other minerals and vitamins. Honey is also often a tasty — and healthier — substitute for sugar. “Honey is twice as sweet as regular sugar, so you typically use half as much. Also, it’s a natural product — not processed like white sugar — so it’s a whole lot healthier for you,” explains Dennis Remsburger of Remsburger Honey and Maple in Pleasant Valley. In addition, honey has medicinal qualities that have been proven to relieve sore throats and head colds. A 2007 Pennsylvania State University study found that honey was more effective in reducing children’s coughs than the common over-the-counter cough suppressant dextromethorphan.

Looking for ways to cook with honey? Grab our recipes below

But Remsburger cautions that once honey is heated — which many big-name brands do in order to stop the liquid from recrystallizing — it loses some of its nutritive value. “It’s like putting something in a microwave; if you overheat it, you knock the nutrients out,” he says. Also, many brands sold in stores are imported and often have additives or pesticides mixed in. Fortunately, most local beekeepers do not heat the product; instead, they sell raw honey, which sometimes granulates and takes on a gritty, sandy texture. “But the enzymes and nutrients are alive,” Remsburger says.

Now is a great time for the honey business. Bee colonies — which can yield upwards of 75 pounds of the stuff in one season — have produced most of it by autumn, and stored away enough for themselves to survive the winter. Come autumn, beekeepers harvest the excess. Says Carol Clement of Preston Hollow’s Heather Ridge Farm: “We have the most honey in the fall. It works really well because it’s more in demand at that time as people start to change their cooking — such as doing more baking — and get ready to give it as gifts for the holidays.”

remsburgerBee-utiful: Remsberger Honey and Maple’s honeycomb chunks come straight from the hive and are extremely sweet

If you want to get your paws on some local jars, here are four regional varieties:

While Remsburger Honey and Maple does offer traditional liquid honey in jars (some even in the form of bride and groom bears for wedding favors), one of their more unique products is comb honey ($10.95). Remsburger literally cuts portions of the honeycomb out of the hive and packages it — wax comb and all — without any filtration or alterations. “It’s the only variety of honey that has never been touched by human hands,” he says. The chunk tastes extremely sweet and can be spread on toast or bagels or simply chewed like bubblegum — “except you can’t blow bubbles,” says Remsburger (845-635-9168; www.remsburgermaple.com).

Heather Ridge Farm’s honey became so popular that they named their café the Bees Knees in the insects’ honor. In addition to regular raw honey, the farm also sells a lemon-flavored variety made in the Irish style. “It’s how we get people hooked and coming back to the store,” says owner Carol Clement. “We call it our gateway drug.” Bees gather nectar from heather (as they frequently do in Ireland due to the abundance of the plant), which gives the honey a thicker consistency. Thanks to the lemon, the taste is slightly tangy, which contrasts with the sweetness. It’s tasty in tea and yogurt and has been known to add nice flavor when basting a chicken. Both lemon and traditional honey come in either eight ounce, one pound, or two pound jars; prices range from $5 to $13 (518-239-6234; www.heather-ridge-farm.com).

“I have one lady who’s been coming to the house faithfully for one year to get her honey. It’s so nice,” says Kerri-Ann Lynch of Right from the Hive about her small but loyal following. The Slate Hill operation carries both plain raw honey and flavored varieties — like chamomile, lavender, and vanilla — in either one pound ($7) or two and a half pound jars ($16). Also available are lip balms, lotions, and soaps, as well as bee-themed accessories like honey pots and dippers (845-476-6241; www.rightfromthehive.co).

honeybrook farmsHoneybrook Farms produces five varieties of raw honey, including buckwheat

Todd Widmark — formerly of Widmark Farms in Gardiner — has been beekeeping since 1968. He now runs Honeybrook Farms in Pine Bush and produces five varieties of honey made with wildflower, clover, or buckwheat nectar; the different nectars create slight varieties in color and consistency (wildflower is the lightest, buckwheat the darkest and thickest). One of his specialties is creamed honey, which is crystallized and then whipped until smooth. “It has an almost peanut butter texture, so it’s not as drippy,” explains Widmark. This honey is perfect for spreading on toast and — as with all Widmark’s varieties — comes in eight ounce ($4), one pound ($7), two pound ($13), and five pound ($30) jars (845-744-2677; www.honeybrook-farms.com).

Honey Haven

If you’re looking for all things honey, check out Rhinebeck’s Bumble and Hive. Although owner Holly Dales Raal initially set out to open a traditional gift store when she started her business in 2011, she ultimately decided to focus solely on honey. Now the store stocks close to 60 raw honeys from both local and international apiaries. (She also keeps a few perfumes, lotions, and candles on the shelves to hearken back to the gift-shop days.) But the main draw is definitely the tasting bar. “You can taste up to 30 types, and it gives us an opportunity to talk to our customers and educate them on the honey and honeybees,” says Dales Raal. “It’s almost like a wine-tasting experience.”

 Honey Recipes

honey lavender truffles

Honey-Lavender Truffles (Recipe)

A recipe from Chocolates and Confections at Home with the Culinary Institute of America
grilled chicken

Grilled Honey-Spice Chicken Roast (Recipe)

A recipe from the Culinary Institute of America
pumpkin honey bread

Pumpkin Honey Bread (Recipe)

A recipe from the National Honey Board
almonds honey

BONUS: Honey Almond Crumb Cake (Recipe)

A recipe from the Culinary Institute of America
oatmeal streusel

BONUS: Oatmeal Streusel (Recipe)

A recipe from the Culinary Institute of America; use with honey almond crumb cake or other baked goods

 

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