Bloom is the twelfth in my Sunday series featuring American Artisans. There are so many exceptionally talented craftspeople, designers, and small companies across the country who share my love of handcrafted quality, and this is my chance to introduce them to you. These artisans are creating beautiful, useful and delicious products that elevate the experience of everyday cooking, dining, and entertaining. They’re using skills, techniques, and materials that might otherwise be lost in our era of mass production. Their work makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you. Each feature will be paired with a giveaway to give you the chance to experience their work for yourselves. I’ll be doing these features every other Sunday for the foreseeable future, so be sure to check back, and enjoy!
Hey everybody — I’d love you to meet beekeepers David Jefferson and his wife Kelly, of Bloom Honey, headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California. They produce multi-award winning raw, unfiltered, varietal honey and bottle it straight from the beehive — it’s incredible stuff! It started ten years ago as a way to ensure pollination on the family’s avocado ranch, and today they manage 1,000 beehives! I discovered them at one of my local farmers markets, but they sell all their specialty honeys on their site, too.
Varietal (or single floral) honeys are honeys that are made from the nectar of a single type of flower. This is completely different from what you find at the supermarket, which is pasteurized, filtered, blended and processed to be a uniform product. Varietals reflect the unique flavor and color of a single blossom’s nectar. The timing and location of the hives to capture the subtle nuances of each flower is the beekeeper’s art. If you’ve got one of those plastic bears in your cupboard (I’m guilty!) you’ll be fascinated to learn what you’re missing. (Bloom is sweetening the deal by giving away a varietal pack of 4 honeys to one of you, details at the end of the post.)
There are a few foods on planet Earth that are so ancient, so elemental, and yet so complex, that they tower over all the rest, foods like bread, wine, cheese, olive oil…and I’d put honey in that category, too. Honey is probably also the most under-appreciated of the group. Unless you’ve had the opportunity to taste an artisinal honey you can’t really understand. Supermarket honey tastes sweet — but it’s rather flat, and it’s all one color. A raw varietal honey blooms (no pun intended) on the tongue with a complexity you can only get from the raw, unprocessed product of nature. The flavor can be mild or strong, all depending on the crop and the particular conditions that year, which makes it so exciting. The colors range from almost clear to a deep dark brown, with yellows, oranges, and reds in between.
“Varietal honey can be best compared to varietal wine in the sense that the color, smell and taste can vary from year to year depending on annual climactic changes. Even the same flower blooming in the same location may produce slightly different honey each year depending upon temperature and rainfall.”
Bloom produces Avocado, Wild Blackberry, Wild Cherry, White Clover, Mesquite, Orange Blossom, Saw Palmetto, Clary Sage, Wild Dandelion, Raspberry, Chamisa, Pumpkin, and Buckwheat, none of which are flavored in any way except naturally through the nectar itself.
Bloom’s bees’ annual travel schedule takes them, among other places, from the spring harvests of avocados and almonds in Central California, to the wildflowers along the coast of Malibu, over to the deserts of Southern Arizona for mesquite, and finally to Colorado for clover, and the foothills of the Rockies in search of Golden Rabbit Brush. Each stop along the tour produces a completely unique honey.
“Our honeybees must visit over two million flower blossoms and fly over 55,000 miles to make just one pound of honey – the amount in one jar of Bloom Honey!”
I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but we’re going through a really scary thing with the world’s bees right now. Nobody is quite sure why, but our bee population has fallen by 50-90% across the globe, and this has happened kind of suddenly. It’s been called “colony collapse disorder”. It could be caused by global warming, pesticides, new viruses, no one knows for sure. It was even thought that maybe even cell phones and cell towers were affecting bee homing systems. It’s frightening because bees are absolutely critical to our food supply. Plants require bees to pollinate them in order to reproduce. No bees…no plants. No plants…no food, it’s as simple as that. Companies like Bloom are working hard to insure the future of the honey bee by keeping them healthy, happy, and productive.
Why choose raw honey? “Raw honey sourced straight from the beehive is one of nature’s perfect foods. It is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, and also contains live digestive enzymes, local pollens, propolis, amino acids, vitamins & minerals, and pre & probiotics.” Most store bought honey has been processed and heated which blunts its flavor and nutritional value. If we were to substitute raw honey for even some of the over 3 POUNDS of sugar most of us consume each week, it would be a big step toward better health. I use raw honey mostly in uncooked recipes, to preserve those healthy benefits and to be able to really appreciate the flavor.
Bloom Honey is generously giving away a 4 Varietal Pack of honey to one lucky reader!
To enter, please visit Bloom’s website, HERE, and leave a comment below, I’d particularly love to know how you are liking this series so far, and what you’d like so see more of —- the artisinal food, or the food and cooking related crafts — you have until Friday July 24th to enter, good luck!
(Giveaway ends Friday July 24th )
*** The winner of the honey gift pack is Jennai — congratulations! ***
*I use Random.org to pick the winner, and will announce it here on Saturday. Photos courtesy of Bloom. I was not compensated in any way for this post.