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H - HONEY

H - HONEY

HONEY...

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From time to time you will no doubt come across a little hand-painted sign outside a house or at the end of some country lane advertising honey (miel).

Although Poitou-Charentes cannot lay claim to the famous lavender honey of Provence or the pine honey of Vosges, you will find many local producers around the region who sell honey. Poitou-Charentes is in fact the largest producer of honey in France and the Deux- Sèvres is particularly renowned in the region for its excellent honey.

Honey varies as the seasons progress, so in spring, you will find that the honey tends to be whiter and creamier in taste while that made during the summer is a deep gold as the bees feast on a huge range of summer blossoms. But there are also honeys made from the pollen of just one flower – the earliest honey is produced by bees feeding on the pollen from rape, the bright yellow flower being one of the first plants to blossom in spring.

In May the chestnut flowers are out, for a honey that is slightly less sweet.

Also found at this time is the lighter tasting acacia honey. In summer, sunflower honey is popular for a real taste of sunshine France. Also look out
for a range of honey products from sweets to soaps and beeswax candles.

 

 

WHERE TO FIND IT

Speciality shops and supermarkets are easy places to access a range of regional honeys, although local farmers’ markets, ‘marchés de producteurs’, usually have at least one stall offering local honey too.

 

 

DO TRY THIS AT HOME...

Pain d’épices

 

500g plain flour

2½ tsp baking powder

1½ tsp ground ginger

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground nutmeg (fresh if possible)

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp of ground black pepper

50g butter (room temperature) diced into cubes

1 large free-range egg

300g honey

50g cassonade sugar (or demerara sugar)

1 tablespoon of fresh orange zest

250ml water

 

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23 cm loaf tin and then dust with flour. Sift the flour with the spices, salt and baking powder.

2. Rub in the butter to make breadcrumbs, before adding the egg and honey and sugar. Mix in well.

3. Begin adding the water, blending carefully and slowly ensuring there are no lumps of flour.

4. Pour the mix into the greased loaf tin and bake for an hour. Check the loaf at regular intervals after 50 minutes to ensure it is cooked through by using a skewer that should come out clean when the loaf is baked through. The loaf will look much darker around the crust but will be lighter inside.

5. Leave the loaf for 10 minutes once it has been removed from the oven allowing it to shrink slightly, then tip out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly before slicing.

6. It will keep for around a week in dry conditions if well-wrapped but can also be frozen for use at a later date.