From Blossom to Jar: An Introduction to the Diverse World of Honey Varieties

Different kinds of honey are produced in every province in Canada and  America. But, some special kinds of honey are only made in a few locations. Honey is also made in most countries around the world, and each country has their own favorite type.

For example, consumers in France prefer honey that's been harvested from lavender flowers, and people from Greece prefer honey that's been produced from the wild thyme plant.

When bees are able to access large areas of just one type of flower, like buckwheat or clover, they will produce a honey that has a certain color, and flavor that's typical for that particular plant. This is called monofloral honey. Bees can also make blended honey when they combine different pollens from areas that have many different flowers. Different honey types can also be blended together when they are processed to create a special flavor.

In the United States, there are more than three hundred unique honey varieties available, each coming from a distinct floral source. The color of honey can range from nearly colorless to a darkish brown color. The flavors can vary from very mild to very strong, based on where the honeybees live. In most cases, light-colored honey will have a milder flavor and darker colored honey will have a stronger flavor.

honey in jar

Listed below are several of the most common monofloral honey varieties:

Acacia or the Black Locust Tree - This honey has a mild, but slightly tangy flavor that doesn't crystallize, and has a water white to a very pale amber color.

Alfalfa - Produced in Canada and the U.S., from the plant's purple blossoms. The aroma and color is light and it has a mild flavor.

Apple Blossom - This honey has a slight apple aroma to it, and its color is mostly light to medium amber.

Aster - Its flavor can vary depending on the aster species, and the region where it is made. It crystallizes very quickly, and it has a white to light amber color.

Avocado - Made from California avocado blossoms. This honey has a rich, buttery flavor, and is dark in color.

Basswood - This one has a strong, zesty flavor that has a dark amber color.

Blackberry - It has a delicate, sweet aroma with a very light amber color.

Black Button Sage - This honey is somewhat herbaceous, crystallizes slowly, and has a medium amber color.

Black Locust - A very rare honey because the tree only produces blossoms every couple of years. It has a nice fruity aroma, and has a coloring that is pale to dark amber.

Blueberry - This type is produced in Michigan and New England. The small white flowers from the blueberry bush are used to produce a honey that has a light amber color with a well-rounded flavor.

Buckwheat - It's made in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Minnesota. It has a dark color with a full-bodied flavor. This honey contains more antioxidant compounds compared to some lighter honeys.

Canola - This honey is very delicate, has low acidity, and can crystallize easily. The color is white to light amber.

Chestnut - It has a strong nutty, spicy flavor, and is dark brown.

Clover - Based on the area and clover plant, this honey will vary in color from water white to amber. The flavor is very mild, but sometimes it can be tangy. This flower is used for most honey production in the America. Alsike clover, Red clover, as well as the yellow and white sweet clovers, are the most important ones for honey production.

Cranberry - This type has a mild fruity flavor to it with a bit of a tart aftertaste, and the color is medium amber.

Eucalyptus - There are over 500 different species of this flower tree and shrub. This California produced honey differs in flavor and color. It's a strong tasting honey that has a light medicinal scent.

Fireweed - This honey has a light color. It comes from Canada, and the Pacific Northwest. The perennial herb grows naturally in the woods, and it has pinkish flowers that grow on long spikes.

Goldenrod - It has a very robust flavor of beeswax and wildflower. Its color is light amber.

Heather - This type has a slightly bitter flavor that has a burnt caramel aftertaste and its color is dark amber.

Huckleberry - It has a very full-bodied flavor along with a dark amber color.

Kamahi - This is produced in New Zealand, is full-bodied, and its coloring is light amber.

Lavender - This honey is lavender scented, and has a medium amber color.

Leatherwood - It's produced in Tasmania, has strong spicy flavor, and a dark amber coloring.

Lehua Buttery - It has lily-like overtones, and can crystallize quickly. It's often used to make a creamed honey that has light golden color.

Manuka - It is produced primarily in New Zealand, and can be used on your skin for medicinal purposes because of its many antibacterial qualities. The Manuka bush is indigenous to New Zealand.

Orange Blossom - This honey is often a mixture of citrus sources, and it's produced in Southern California, Florida, and some areas in Texas. It's typically light in color, has a mild citrus flavor, and a very pleasant fresh scent.

Pine Honey - This is made in Turkey, and has a dark amber color.

Poplar or Tulip Poplar - It has a strong flavor, and a medium amber color.

Pumpkin - This honey has a light pumpkin flavor, and a medium amber color.

Raspberry - It has a slight raspberry flavor, and it will crystallize quickly, so its usually made into a creamed honey that has a light color.

Rosemary - This type is very fragrant and herbaceous. It complements cheese very nicely. It has a pale amber color.

Safflower - This honey is noted for its milky flavor. Its color is amber to very dark amber, and it also has a slight greenish hue.

Saw Palmetto - It has a slight citrus and herbal flavor, that has woody overtones. It color is medium amber.

Sage - It's mostly produced in California. It has a light color, and a mild flavor. This type of honey is very slow to granulate which makes it a honey packers favorite for blending together with other honeys, in order to decrease granulation.

Silkweed - This one has a strong flavor and scent that is spicy. Its coloring is dark amber.

Sunflower - It has a floral aroma, and can crystallize easily. It has a light to medium amber color.

Tupelo - This is a premium honey that is made in northwest Florida. It usually has a lighter golden amber color with a slight greenish hue. It also has a mild but distinctive flavor. This honey granulates slowly because it has a high fructose content.

Viper's Bugloss or Borage -This honey is produced in New Zealand, has a very delicate flavor, floral bouquet, and a light amber color.

Wildflower - Is frequently used to describe honey that comes from miscellaneous or undefined flower sources.

Other countries have varying grading standards. For example, India grades their honey based upon additional factors, like the Fiehe's test and a few other measurements.

Just like wine, the color and flavor of honey varieties can differ every year, even if it's from the very same beekeeper and location. Weather differences and different blossoming seasons can change the look and taste of honey. If you are interested in learning more about the different types of honey products that are available in your area, talk to local beekeepers or the beekeeping association in your area.

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