Raw honeycomb

Categories: Product of the week

Delicate, honey-filled, nougat-like and found at From Field and Flower

A sweet, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth bubbly waif of deliciousness, found atop ice creams, Bread Ahead doughnuts and in chocolate bars—or at least that’s how we thought of honeycomb before Sam, co-owner of From Field and Flower, enlightened us.

“That sort of honeycomb is simply sugar that has been cooked in a certain way to look like the honeycomb you’d find in a hive—it’s not actually honeycomb,” she explains. “Both are delicious! But the raw honeycomb you’ll find here is much less sweet, more delicate, and chewy rather than crunchy in texture.”

That hexagonal waxy grid we imagine when we think of beehives? That’s the real deal. “It’s what the bees make with their bodies at the start of the season to put their pollen in, basically, which eventually they make into honey. It’s entirely natural and edible.”

Last through winter
To extract honey, the honeycomb ‘tray’ is usually taken from the hive, spun in a centrifuge, then put back whence it was found. “The bees work hard to make it and they need the honeycomb to last through the winter, so to take it without knowing what you’re doing would be unfair”—which is why we haven’t seen it on the stall until now.

The Wallace family from South Molton in Devon—from whom From Field and Flower get their honeycomb—are highly experienced, having been in the beekeeping business since the 1940s. “They have enough hives to take some of the honeycomb without disturbing the bees, and the expertise to know how and when they can take it.”

The honeycomb is removed, divided, boxed and sent straight to the Market, “unprocessed and unfiltered” and still full of delicious Devon wildflower honey, which you’ll also find on the stall in jarred form from the same producers.

Light, floral and delicate
“The bees collect pollen from right across the county,” Sam continues. “It’s light, floral and delicate, with a slight hint of lemon.” The honeycomb is similarly well-balanced—“not too chewy, we wanted it to be accessible. It’s more like a nougat”—and delicious with just about anything you’d use ordinary honey for.

“You could put it in the fridge so that the honey crystallises and hardens, meaning it will no longer be runny and making it easier to simply slice it up thinly and have on toast. The wax will melt and become butter-like in texture, and has a warmer, richer flavour than just ordinary honey. It’s delicious.”

Use it to top cakes—“let the honey drizzle out into air holes for a moist sponge”—or even in a chai tea. “The limit is your imagination, really. Just be aware that while it can be used to replace confectionary-type honeycomb, it will have that chewy texture.”