Taste of Honey

Make a beeline for western Pennsylvania’s distinctive single-flower fall delicacies.

As the leaves begin to change, bees begin to harvest deep amber honey, the kind you can only savor during autumn. “It is very dark in color, full of antioxidants and very rich in flavor,” says Stephen Repasky, director of ‘Burgh Bees Apiary, an urban beekeeping organization established “to educate beekeepers and promote beekeeping as a vital part of sustainable agriculture in Pittsburgh and its suburbs.”

Repasky says the types of honey the bees produce change with the seasons, depending on the nectar of the source flower.

“Fall honeys will also crystallize faster than spring and summer honeys due to higher amounts of glucose and lower amounts of fructose,” he says. “Some people prefer crystallized honey because it’s easier to spread.” And spread you should: Honey produced in the fall is perfect for baking or basting, having perfect flavor and consistency. And who doesn’t love a warm honeybun to ease the cold-weather blues?

With the holiday just around the corner, October is the perfect month to stock up on a fresh supply of locally produced honey. “Buying local honey is the only sure way of knowing where your honey comes from,” Repasky says. “The taste is outstanding, the health benefits of the enzymes and antioxidants are all-natural and you are supporting Pennsylvania’s largest workforce: the honey bee!”

Whether it’s through a tasting or by creating a specific dish made with a uniquely flavored honey, foodies are finding ways to celebrate the many varieties. A sought-after local fall variety made from Japanese knotweed is marketed under the more enticing name of Red Bamboo. It yields a dark, richly colored honey with a surprisingly mild taste; it’s an exception to the rule that darker honey tends to have stronger, more pungent flavors.

Because it’s not produced elsewhere in large quantities, Red Bamboo honey is popular with out-of-state sources as well as locals and tends to sell out quickly. There aren’t other suppliers for this honey, so when it’s gone, that’s it until next year’s harvest. Fortunately, it’s not the only local fall honey—there’s also Goldenrod, a dark honey with a strong, sweet flavor that’s harvested after Red Bamboo.

With so many interesting fall honeys on the market, there are plenty of reasons to sample local honey slathered on buttered toast or in easy recipes (like the one below). Turn the page to get the goods on local (and global) single-flower honeys and where to find Red Bamboo, which usually appears in markets around the middle of this month.

Easy Recipe: Honey-Fig Goat Cheese Spread With Fuji Apples 

Figs and honey have been enjoyed in combination since antiquity. For something new, try a dollop of this sweet and creamy spread on a cool, crisp Fuji apple slice, topped with a lightly toasted walnut. Each bite captures all the flavors of fall.

Remove the tough stem and non-stem end from two dried Turkish figs (about one-and-one-half ounces) and chop them roughly. Using a small food processor, combine the chopped figs with a half-cup of plain, mild-tasting, soft white goat cheese (do not purée). Transfer to a small bowl and beat in one teaspoon Goldenrod honey. Meanwhile, cut a large Fuji apple into eighths and lightly toast one-quarter cup walnut pieces. Top each apple slice with a dollop of the honey-fig spread and garnish with a toasted walnut. This is a perfect snack or dessert for two.

Buying Local Honey

Sample each type by dipping a toothpick into a small ramekin, or lightly smear honey onto plain crackers. Many producers make local honey and sell their wares at farmers markets such as Farmers @ Firehouse in the Strip District. All of the honey varieties below (listed in the order they will be produced—from fall through next summer) are made by Maple Valley Farms. Look for its honey at the East End Food Co-op and Cafe in Point Breeze, Soergel’s (Franklin Park) or Shenot’s Farm Market (in Wexford), and McGuinness Sisters stores.

Red Bamboo
Also known as knotweed honey, Red Bamboo is available in October after being harvested locally from late August through September. Its flavor is unusually mild for a dark honey, with no discernible aftertaste.

Goldenrod
This dark, strongly flavored honey is harvested locally in autumn after Red Bamboo. It’s popular among those who believe that eating raw honey, which may contain bee and pollen residue, can help combat seasonal allergies.

Clover
Sweet and light-tasting, this amber honey is among the most familiar varieties. Locally produced in June, clover honey comes from 3- to 6-foot-high yellow-clover plants, which has flowers with very tiny petals (rather than the typical Dutch clover you see in your neighbor’s yard).

Locust
This is the first springtime honey produced in Western Pennsylvania. Made from the blossoms of the locust tree, this sought-after pale amber honey carries a flavor reminiscent of the sweet locust blossom, often mistaken for honeysuckle.

Buckwheat
This late-summer bloomer produces a dark and very strongly flavored honey with a tangy note. Its taste is so assertive that it’s sometimes used in place of molasses. Like Goldenrod, it’s excellent for baking (darker honey generally stands up better to the heat).

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

2017 Pittsburgher of the Year: Kelly Frey

2017 Pittsburgher of the Year: Kelly Frey

No one would blame the veteran WTAE anchor if she took time off while undergoing intensive breast cancer treatment. Instead, she chose to use humor and grace to educate and inspire others, all while in the public eye.
Green Medicine: The Business of Medical Marijuana

Green Medicine: The Business of Medical Marijuana

For many, medical marijuana is a panacea capable of alleviating a wide range of symptoms. As Pennsylvania begins allowing the drug’s medical use, patients are relieved — and business is booming.
Restaurant Review: Casbah Still is Rocking

Restaurant Review: Casbah Still is Rocking

More than 20 years into its run, Casbah remains one of Pittsburgh’s most relevant restaurants.
First There Was Hot Yoga. Then There Was Goat Yoga

First There Was Hot Yoga. Then There Was Goat Yoga

Believe it or not, yogis have been practicing with goats in the Unites States for more than a year.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


32 Years Celebrating Pittsburghers of the Year

32 Years Celebrating Pittsburghers of the Year

As we honor the 2017 Pittsburghers of the year, take a look back at the previous honorees and their significant, unforgettable contributions to our city.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Madeline Bakery and Bistro to Open in Wilkinsburg

Madeline Bakery and Bistro to Open in Wilkinsburg

The French-inspired bakery will feature croissants, cookies, bread and more.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Here are some of our favorite ‘Burgh-inspired gifts for him, her, kids, foodies and more.

Comments


Enjoy a Relaxing Evening of Wanton Destruction at Break Room

Enjoy a Relaxing Evening of Wanton Destruction at Break Room

The Irwin business offers the chance to smash inanimate objections for a little "therapeutic demolition."

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers Can't Ease Their Patriots Pain Until January

Steelers Can't Ease Their Patriots Pain Until January

Much as they’d like to, the Steelers won’t be able to exorcise the ghosts of AFC Championship Games Past, even with a win on Sunday.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Movie Review — Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Movie Review — Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A review of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," the latest entry in the massive franchise.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
New Weddings Website Aims for Equality

New Weddings Website Aims for Equality

A local wedding photographer has created a business to connect same-sex couples with LGBTQ-friendly vendors.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
It’s Back! ‘Restored by the Fords’ Gets Premiere Date

It’s Back! ‘Restored by the Fords’ Gets Premiere Date

The new season of the home improvement show featuring Pittsburgh siblings Leanne and Steve Ford debuts on HGTV in January.

Comments

Edit Module

Edit Module