italian honey being poured into a jar with lemons

Oh Honey Bee, How Sweet Are Thee; The Italian Honey Difference

Honey, a sweet food substance made mostly by the honey bee, is one of the most versatile and, lately, one of the most adaptable and sought after food for foodies all over the world. From a drizzle on your morning yogurt parfait to hot honey on pizzas honey is the star of any charcuterie board and the accompaniment to your evening tea …. you might even have honey multiple times a day and not even realize it! What is the Italian honey difference?

Making honey in Italy

All Things Honey

Honey is also widely used in baking and an alternative to sugar. In a Smithsonian magazine article titled “The Science Behind Honey’s Eternal Shelf Life”, we learn that because most microorganisms can not grow in honey, you can leave honey sealed for thousands of years without it spoiling!

Lately the honey craze has exploded and it is now considered a “craft” accessory to most any dish or drink.

According to an article about “getting to know Italian honey”, Romans were the first to detail its culinary usage. Known as “the food of Gods” honey was mostly used in the Southern regions of Italy but now it’s used all over the country. For example, it’s often found in sweets from the Torrone region. From a healthy topping for morning muffins to recipes for soothing throat ailments, there is no place honey can’t be used!

Introducing the Italian Honey Bee

The Italian Honey Bee, also known as the Apis Mellifera Ligustica is one of the more popular bee strains. If you’re interested in learning just how important the Bee is, read “Made in Italy”. Italy is planning and actively pursuing protecting the planet, one bee at a time!

Italy is a major manufacturer of honey and Europe’s 5th largest honey supplier. Each region has their own “flavor” of honey with a distinct taste from the different trees and plants that the honey bee is attracted to in that particular region.

Like most foods in Italy, each region has a claim of different honey flavor profiles depending on what grows best in the region. Sicily makes the very best orange blossom honey. Calabria takes claim over the chestnut honey. In Tuscany? You will see a large consumption of Millefiori honey, made from the thousands of sunflowers that depict the Tuscan landscape!

Using Italian Honey

I grew up in Calabria and honey was always available for our afternoon merenda (snack). I remember the fresh bread coming out of the wood fired oven and then spreading the honey right over the warm, crunchy bread and eating it just like that. It was so sweet and contrasted so well with saltiness of the bread.

Nowadays in the states I use a lot of honey when making charcuterie boards. I like pairing hot honey with a nice Vermont cheddar or a truffle honey with a Manchego. We also used our hot honey on our grilled pizza the other night, with rosemary sprigs, red onion and pistachios!

Its Fall here in CT right now and I’ve been using a lot of honey in baking all things apple! At night a smidge in my favorite decaf teas. And if you haven’t tried it yet try a drizzle on hot buns or warm cornbread.

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