The Best Honey in the World: Russian Honey

By | August 28, 2011

I was recently waxing lyrical about honey from Russia and Estonia. A guy said to me:

Odd.  Please explain why.  Apis mellifera is an Apis mellifera in the UK or Russia.  Honey depends primarily on the flowering plant from which the nectar is gathered.  Usually the local vegetation is so diverse that honey is honey.  In the South we have periods when certain blooms predominate yielding small quantities with a special flavor in high demand (sourwood honey, tupelo honey).

I dunno about the US, but in Europe, honey is markedly different from place to place. Vegetation differs markedly from place to place. The flowers in Estonia differ to what you will find in Spain or Italy for example. As does the honey. Supermarket blended honeys are usually quite bland or over sweet.

In our local Rimi supermarket here in Estonia, they do an own brand honey that is so bad it even pollutes the taste of my coffee. 

In Poland I buy acacia honey from the roadside sellers. That has its own taste. In Poland, they often have many types to choose from; each quite different.

In Estonia I used to get it from the father of a friend of mine who brought it in, in bulk, from Samara, Russia. It had a particular taste that I cannot define in words but only the Russian stuff from the Samara region tasted that way. It was this Samara honey that got me hooked on honey.

Yesterday, we were driving from home and there was a market on the village green (happens a lot in Estonia where the folk from the south and east come in and around Tallinn to sell their wares in summer). We stopped for a look. My wife, immediately identifying “proper” stuff, promptly started gleefully filling bags with gherkins, plums, tomatoes, black bread, some kind of dried long sausage, some iffy-looking smoked pork stuff and apples.

I spotted the honey. I zeroed in as it had the right colour and consistency of the stuff I missed from Russia (the hard, waxy stuff, the bright yellow stuff or old sugared-up stuff is no good – you want deep orange and very runny). The guy offered me a taste from a pot he had handy. It was bang on. It was the old stuff I loved so much. 

That’s why I bought three kilos. You can buy dozens of different types of honey in the UK, but seldom does it hold a torch to what I can buy here in the FSU.

To cut a long story short, honey is not all the same. No more than milk, eggs, teabags or steak is. Milk or eggs: Poland (like it tasted when you were a kid); Steak: South America or the Scottish Highlands (although I had some pretty good steak in FL they said came from CO); Honey: Russia (Estonia now – but it may be imported); Tea: England (coz we blend it to suit the regional water).

Food simply isn’t the same everywhere (the US cannot do cheese for example; Brits cannot do pancakes, waffles or hash browns). Honey is no different; it differs everywhere.

Comments welcome.

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