My relationship with honey has been platonic at best. It began in Mexico back in 1974 when a colleague of Daddy dropped by the house with half a honeycomb and honey dripping into a soup bowl, the odd bee still stuck in it. It had been “harvested” from someone’s farm and not processed in the slightest bit. Mommy was unsure about how to accept and handle this gift and simply left it unceremoniously on the table for anyone to spoon out the golden richness out at leisure and pleasure. At the time my attention was focused more on peanut butter, so the honey didn’t catch my attention as such, but the honeycomb itself did and I would stare at it for hours trying to draw the details.
Honey in our home was usually just associated with pancakes or tea, and when we moved back to Manila, Daddy had to cut back on it due to his diabetes. It was only when I moved to Germany in 1993 and got introduced to the German family’s tradition of beekeeping in the Black Forest and the nuances of forest honey, floral honey, and field honey. It was a world apart from the honey I had always known in Asia and I was completely overwhelmed by the complexity of the honey world, both in taste and consistency. This of course ruined my tastebuds for life and my standards suddenly catapulted to intergalactic levels. We bought honey only from one particular cousin by the bucket (one bucket was roughly a kilo) and then transferred it to jars in order to cart them back to India where we were stationed at the time. Suffice it to say it was carefully rationed and completely banned from being used to sweeten tea! Not even the Bhutanese honey we occasionally got our hands on could measure up!
I have since distanced myself from the Black Forest suppliers and opted to support the local Berlin and Brandenburg beekeepers instead, but nothing really compared to the Black Forest honey of the earlier years. Quite by accident I found a roadside stand in the back routes between Spandau and Potsdam, a delightfully cheerful couple who sold their farm produce and assorted jams and jellies of the season. They were difficult to catch and since I don’t have a car, it was a short-lived connection, especially since they don’t have a website or even a social media page.
I use quite a bit of honey in the kitchen – mainly for my bread baking, especially if making a dark bread, and the honey butter for breakfast (well, margarine now since we went vegetarian). Whatever I could get my hands on was good enough for this but my discriminating palate could not convince me to use it as a spread. Until I stumbled on the Eggers Beekeeping and Honey manufacturers in Hildesheim (the website is only in German). The assortment of organic honey flavours brought me immediately back to the Black Forest and I was definitely intrigued. After a delivery hiccup with the courier we were finally able to dive into the first round of jars – Chai Bee, Sweet Chestnut (Edelkastanie), and Forest Honey. This photograph sums it all up:
The sweet chestnut honey (used in the photograph) has a complex and deep smokey flavour that is so unique but absolutely delightful. In contrast, the forest honey is familiar, comforting, intense and provides a superb note to whatever it is you choose to use it on. It is almost an abomination to use any of them for sweetening you tea, but if you do it will not be a mistake.
Now Hildesheim isn’t exactly around the corner from Berlin but this honey is well worth the effort, that I can guarantee. The family-run business prides itself in its high organic apiculture standards and certification. You can definitely taste the commitment and passion for beekeeping in the products, and I definitely look forward to my next order!