There’s a lot more variety to honey than the stuff we used to squeeze out of little plastic bears. Flavors of honey vary based on the nectar source, and various types and grades of honey are available.
Honeys can be from specific types of flower nectars or can be blended.
Polyfloral, or wildflower honey, is derived from the nectar of many types of flowers. The taste may vary from year-to-year depending on what flowers are in bloom.
Monofloral honey is made primarily from the nectar of one type of flower. Monofloral honeys have a distinctive flavor and color because of differences between their principal nectar sources. To produce monofloral honey, beekeepers keep beehives in an area where the bees have access to only one type of flower.
Typical examples of monofloral honeys made in the U.S. are orange blossom, blueberry, sage, tupelo, buckwheat, fireweed, mesquite, sourwood, and one of the most popular varieties: clover honey.
European monofloral honeys include thyme, thistle, heather, acacia, dandelion, sunflower, honeysuckle, and varieties from lime and chestnut trees. Chestnut honey from Piedmont in northern Italy pours smooth and has a deep, dark amber color. It has a fascinating aroma that has been described as “walking in a forest in autumn” – it has hints of a little leather, tobacco, and is almost smoky-tasting – a true honey for an adult palate.
If you’re new to chestnut honey, try it for breakfast smeared on toast made from walnut bread. For an appetizer, enjoy it as the Italians do – drizzled on cubes of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano. One taste and you’ll find yourself seeking out all types of monofloral honeys to try!
HONEY PORK in LETTUCE CUPS
This recipe uses just a little honey to sweeten the otherwise savory sauce. It’s a light Asian-flavored recipe that is perfect for eating with your hands!
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon honey (use a honey with a light flavor, such as clover)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Zest and juice of 1 lime
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Boston lettuce, leaves separated, rinsed and dried
In a large pan, sauté the onion in oil until soft, add the minced garlic and pork and cook until the pork is thoroughly browned.
Stir in the honey, fish sauce, and toasted sesame oil. Combine well.
Add in the lime zest and juice. Place in a serving bowl and garnish with the scallions.
To eat, hold a Boston lettuce leaf in your hand, scoop in some of the pork mixture – fold the lettuce over (burrito-like) and enjoy!
I have a very simple and unusual side dish that I love to make when I serve Pork in Lettuce Cups. In some olive oil, sauté thinly sliced red onion, snow peas, and mango slices (yes – we’re sautéing the mango!). When ready to serve, toss with a little finely minced hot pepper. It’s hot, spicy and sweet and goes very well with the pork dish.