Honey, Pure and Simple
by Alison Charbonneau
Bees are an extremely important part of Hi-Berry Farm. They not only buzz around pollinating all the beautiful fruit and vegetables helping to ensure a bountiful harvest, they also produce sweet honey for us all to enjoy!
When Norm and Nora opened Hi-Berry Farm 33 years ago Norm was able to care for the bees himself, with the occasional “help” from his young son, Luke. As the farm grew from a part-time hobby to a full-time passion, Norm handed over the 24 hives to be skillfully cared for by professional beekeepers. Currently beekeeper Glen Ackroyd of Ackroyd's Honey visits the hives throughout the season to ensure the bees are healthy and storing enough food to last throughout the long, cold winters. From about July to September, Glen collects the excess honey produced, removes it from the honeycombs and bottles it. Pure and Simple!
Hi-Berry honey’s wonderfully unique flavour comes from the abundance of fruit and vegetable flowers that the bees gather their nectar from and will differ slightly from the spring to the fall as it depends on what flowers are available.
Liquid and Creamed
Honey is harvested in its pure, liquid state and is whipped to create the crystals of smooth, spreadable creamed honey.
When we decided to feature honey as our first article (of our second year of how we do local – YAY!), I immediately thought of partnering with Pier Donnini and The Queens Bar and Grill of Port Elgin. Luke and I have been attending (and very much enjoying) The Queens’ food experience dinners for almost 2 years now and I knew that one of these dinners would be a wonderful way to showcase the versatility of honey – and oh was I right!
The Queens’ food experience dinners take place relatively regularly throughout the year and began by featuring national cuisines but have recently started to use more specific themes such as scotch and steak. Pier and head chef, Kate Brewer, were immediately on board with the idea of using honey as a featured ingredient. “Focusing on specific ingredients is a natural evolution and we are excited to feature honey as our first single ingredient” Pier told me. I was excited too.
The Remarkable Honey dinner was enjoyed this past April. Dinner guests were greeted with a Hi-Berry Punch (recipe below), which was sweetened with a honey simple syrup, setting the tone for this wonderful spring garden themed dinner. Kate was remarkable in weaving the sweetness of honey, sometimes subtly and at other times brazenly, throughout the evening in every dish. Honey was in the forefront of each dish such as lemon ricotta basil and honey bruschetta, corn and green onion fitters with bacon honey and desserts such as halva mille-feuilles (recipe below), and much much more. If you have been to one of their food experiences then you will know that Pier and Kate will not let you leave wanting (and if you haven’t been – GO! I highly recommend them).
I always knew that honey was versatile and can be used in practically anything (drinks, salads, sauces, desserts) but I have learned that I like honey best used very simply, drizzled on top or with few ingredients; Two words - Honey Butter!
I am always curious to know how restaurateurs and chefs use ingredients at home, so I always ask. Pier told me that he likes his honey mixed in plain yogurt with granola and that he “gets a lot of comfort from a hot cup of tea and honey in the winter.” Kate enjoys a balsamic dressing with honey at home. “I don’t always get to cook for myself at home so this is an easy way to make something healthy.”
Whether you enjoy the earthy-sweet combination of honey-garlic, the sweet and sour of a honey vinaigrette or honey as a sugar substitute in baked goods, Hi-Berry Farm honey is pure, simple, sweet, sticky goodness and available now for you to enjoy.
For the phyllo:
- 8 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted if necessary
- Canola or olive oil, for brushing
- Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
For the halvah cream:
- 1/3 cup honey or silan (date syrup)
- 1/3 cup pure tahini paste
- 2 cups non-dairy whipped topping or 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup crumbled halvah
- Honey or silan, for serving
- Fresh raspberries, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Stack the 8 sheets of phyllo and cut in half crosswise. Brush 1 half sheet of phyllo with oil and sprinkle with sugar.
Layer another half sheet on top of the first and repeat with oil and sugar to form a stack of 4 half sheets, finishing the top layer with oil and sugar. Repeat with remaining half sheets to form 3 more stacks. Cut each of the stacks into 4 equal pieces to make 16 stacks. Transfer stacks to baking sheets and bake until golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a smallbowl, stir together the honey or date syrup with the tahini. If using non-dairy whipped topping, place in a large bowl and gently fold in the honey-tahini mixture. If using cream, beat until small peaks form and gently fold in the honey-tahini mixture.
For Honey Syrup
- 1 cup Honey
- 1/3 cup Hot water
- ¾ oz fresh lemon
- ¾ honey syrup
- 2oz Bourbon
- Fresh Blueberries, Strawberries and Raspberries
Muddle any combination of Blueberries, Strawberries and Raspberries in a glass. Make Honey Syrup – Combine 1 cup of honey with 1/3 cup of hot water. Stir until completely mixed. Put muddled fruit at bottom of glass. In a shaker, combine lemon, honey syrup and Bourbon and ice. Shake vigorously (until it’s too cold to hold!). Pour over fruit.
Photos by Jill Schildroth Photography
Recipies by The Queens Bar and Grill