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Drawn together: the honey dipper

Categories: Behind the stalls

In a new series award-winning blogger and Borough Market regular Ed Smith displays a talent for illustration as well as the written word, as he talks to stallholders about the tools of their trade. This month: the honey dipper

Words and illustration: Ed Smith

Sam Wallace, From Field and Flower:

We source our honey and pollen from small, passionate, independent beekeepers who make incredible tasting produce. They all use traditional wooden hives, with a varying number of layers depending on the size of the swarm. Some have eight hives, and a few up to 400 if they’re pollinators as well, so the tools of the honey makers are the hives and the extraction machines.

But we’re the merchant and end user. Our primary tools are our tastebuds—we hope that we get it right and people agree with what we’ve selected——but when it comes to eating honey, I love using a traditional wooden dipper.

It’s got no magical health properties and won’t change your life in any way, but if you’re finickity about how much honey you have, like I am, you want to control you portion and present honey without dropping it all in one pile, or dripping honey between jar and plate or across a cheeseboard.

Illustration of honey dippers

A continuous, thin, even pour
The grooves in the bulbous end seem to do something weird to gravity and stop it working. You dip the stick in the honey, pull it out then hold it at the horizontal angle. If you spin the end of the stick so it’s constantly turning, the honey will stay where it is and not drop, and then if you hold it still at that horizontal angle, you get a continuous, thin, even pour.

This sounds so geeky and nerdy, doesn’t it! In a way it totally is, but I think there’s romance and nostalgia involved too. It reminds me of my grandma and her pantry, which seemed to have everything you’d ever need for life within it, including one of these.

It also just seems right that you’d use a lovely, wooden, tactile spoon to go with something as natural and pure as proper honey. In many ways, it’s a really nice counter to modern technology. There are so many new, fangled gadgets these days, but nothing does this tool’s job better than a simple, grooved, turned wooden dipper. No metal or plastic battery operated gizmo trumps it.

You can get beautiful works of art in olive wood and so on, but I quite like the simple, plain, functionality of ours. It’s perfect as it is.