Honey

 

bee-gardenHoney was as widely used in ancient cuisine as sugar is in modern cookery. A rock drawing in Spain dating to roughly 15,000 BCE depicts two men climbing up cords to reach a nest of bees. The oldest alcoholic beverage known to man may have been discovered when honey, dripping from hives, collected in pools of rain. As wild yeast consumed the sugar in the honey, it produced alcohol, creating a beverage with a nice little buzz. 

Beekeeping was practiced along the banks of the Nile as early as 3000 BCE. Since spring arrives earlier to Upper than to Lower Egypt, beekeepers would place their hives on boats and descend the Nile in stages as the flowers and other plants bloomed.

Greek lyric poets loved mix honey into wine to raise their potency, and Roman chefs left us many recipes in which honey was a main ingredient. The consistency, aroma and flavor of honey are all quite variable and depend largely on the vegetation in the area where the bees are allowed to forage among the flowers.

Honey can be collected in both spring and fall, but the spring honey-harvest is always preferable, and some of the sweetest honeys are those made from the blossoms of rosemary, orange, acacia, and lavender.

Pumpkin honey has a wonderfully rich and earthy quality. Even the colors of honey vary widely, ranging from transparent yellow to dark brown. Acacia honey, for instance, is a straw-like yellow, Chestnut honey is brown, and orange-flower honey is amber-hued with warm red tones. 

 

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