A Swedish honey with an unusual production method
Nestled among piles of artisanal rice, flour and jar upon jar of raw English and Italian honeys at From Field and Flower sits parlehonung. Its literal translation from Swedish is ‘pearl honey’, and it’s a gem both in its pale, shimmering appearance, and in quality.
“It’s an old-fashioned name for an old-fashioned honey,” says Sam Wallace, co-owner of the stall. “It’s a mix of early summer fruit blossoms, such as pear and cherry, and wildflower blossoms found in the south of Sweden near Vellinge.”
Like many of the producers the pair behind From Field and Flower choose to work with, the producer of this particular honey is Slow Food accredited. “Our beekeeper, Viktoria Bassani, has been making honey with traditional, slow methods for more than 10 years,” Sam continues. “We actually met her at Salone del Gusto, the huge Slow Food exhibition in Turin. It’s a mecca for Slow Food producers from around the world.”
Dense, silky texture
Parlehonung is one of the earliest honeys of the season. It is sweet, creamy and when warmed, “spreads like butter”, adds Sam’s partner Stefano. Its dense, silky texture is a mark of its unusual production method, whereby raw, runny honey is whipped before it’s given a chance to cool, altering the natural crystallisation process.
“Honey, as it gets colder, naturally becomes grainy,” says Stefano. “The higher the natural sugar content, the grainier it is. In Sweden it is much colder than it is here, meaning it crystallises very quickly, so often they whip the honey to turn it almost into a cream,” he explains.
“By creaming you encourage crystallisation, but keep a lovely smooth and silky texture. It also gives it the pearly colour you see.” Creaming by hand is important, adds Sam, because by keeping the core temperature below 42C, the bacteria, vitamins and enzymes in the honey are retained.
Sherbet and lemon
This light, floral honey has “hints of sherbet and lemon on the finish”, making it an excellent glaze for simple sponge cakes—and the perfect topping for pancakes this Shrove Tuesday. But Stefano likes his simply slathered on toast or crumpets, for an indulgent breakfast: “It’s gorgeous,” he grins. “Like candy.”