Experts Tag Honey “Flavor of the Year”
September 23, 2015
September is Honey Month, giving special recognition to a healthful, delicious agricultural product that we try to protect every day of the year here at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry. Among our other statutory duties, FDACS-DPI registers beekeepers and inspects hives for pests and diseases.
Honey Month seems like a good time to recognize that honey is also the Flavor of the Year, so designated by Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned company in the fragrance and flavor business.
The company, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland, noted the ironic fact that the world-wide decline in bee populations has put honey in the global spotlight.
“Honey flavor can contain anything from light and delicate white flowers such as chamomile, lilly of the valley or linden, to powerful and heady flowers such as jasmine or rose,” said Patrick Salord, a senior flavorist at Firmenich. “You can find woody, piney and even smoky notes.”
As is the case with wine, geographic location, climate, soil and temperature – what experts refer to as terroir – affect the taste of honey by impacting the composition of the flower nectar. That results in honey with unique flavor characteristics.
Fromenich says honey has the potential to enter the flavor canon that currently includes classic favorites like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Certainly, chefs, home cooks and commercial food producers are taking notice.
Honey hot sauces, honey-braised short ribs, honey Greek yogurt, ice cream, beef jerky – even honey-flavored beer, vodka and whiskey – line market shelves, joining established products like Honey Nut Cheerios, Honey Smacks, Bit-O-Honey candy and honey-mustard in stores, farmers’ markets and home pantries worldwide.
We who live in Florida are in a position to lead this flavor revolution. The broad varieties of honey produced in Florida — citrus, gallberry and tupelo, for example –all have distractive flavor characteristics. And the proliferation of beekeepers, both commercial and back yard, ensures a plentiful supply. So enjoy the imaginative honey concoctions on merchant’s shelves, do some experimenting in your own kitchen or cook up some of Chef Justin Timineri’s Fresh From Florida recipes. If you have an opportunity, also participate in a honey tasting.
“For a flavor that is as sweet as honey is, it shows remarkable versatility,” Salord said. “Depending on the application, you can tone down the sweetness, or even tone it up! It’s a flavor that has no limit in its potential, and people respond to that.”
To which we can only say, “Amen.”