Raw lavender honey

Categories: Product of the week

A unique, monofloral honey from the south-east of Spain

The smell of freshly cut grass; the emergence of butter-yellow daffodils and fluffy pink blossoms—these things not only signal the start of lighter days and warmer weather but with them comes the awakening of the honey bee, emerging from the dormant months of winter within their hives to scout out the best pollen to feast on.

Countryside dwellers and those with gardens will no doubt be aware of the bees’ love of lavender, its purply blooms positively swathed with bees come the warmer months. For beekeepers and honey-lovers, the resulting gift is a sweet one: lavender honey.

That found at From Field and Flower is cultivated in the south-eastern region of Murcia, Spain, brought to us by partners Sam and Stefano, and is a taste experience not to be missed: “It’s very light, delicate, with high notes of flora. If you smell lavender or have tasted it in food, that’s exactly what it’s like,” says Sam. “If you like florals, it’s totally for you. If you don’t, it is quite distinctive—compared to acacia, which is the most delicate of the floral honeys, it has a lot of legs on it and a lot of flavour. Though it doesn’t develop on the palate and linger so much as the stronger honeys.”

Stir it into tea—“but because it’s raw, meaning it’s unpasteurised, it has a low pasteurisation point of around 42 degrees so make sure it’s not too hot. Let the tea rest until it reaches drinking temperature or add a little bit of cold water, so that you can dip a finger in and it’s not burning hot”—or pair with goat’s cheese, “the acidity goes well with its floral properties.”

Homemade lemonade
“At this time of year, now the weather’s nice, try it with homemade lemonade. If you have lavender in your garden, add a couple of sprigs and a spoonful of honey instead of sugar for a scented, slightly sweet element to the lemonade. In terms of cooking, I would say it lends itself more towards desserts, for example panna cotta with lavender honey inside, ice cream—it’s really down to your imagination.”

Its distinct lavender flavour stems from the fact it’s what’s called a ‘monofloral’ honey, meaning the pollen used to make it is at least 80 to 85 per cent from one species of flower—in this case, lavender. “It’s far more efficient for the bees to go to their local source of pollen first, so the beekeepers will move the hive around depending what’s in season,” Sam continues. “The bees are very clever. They send ‘scouts’ to search out the nearest pollen—to discover what’s cooking, if you like!—and then use a waggle dance to report back the direction and distance. It’s fascinating.”

The expertise of the beekeepers is imperative to ensure not only quality of flavour, but importantly, the wellbeing of the bees. “The craft involves the careful monitoring and understanding of bee behaviour, pollen quality and the cycle of the flowers involved—you really need to be experienced to produce this kind of honey.”

To ensure sustainability, only two ‘harvests’ occur each year, “so at the moment we have last year’s batch,” says Sam. “If the weather continues to be wet in Spain, who knows how much we’ll get this time round”—we advise you to head there forthwith. And, perhaps, pick up some hot cross buns from Olivier’s Bakery to slather it atop and devour in the sunshine.