What Makes Honey Taste Bland?

I’m asking because I don’t know.

I’m in New Brunswick at the moment. I picked up a jar of honey at a grocery store this morning. The honey is from a local apiary. The label on the honey jar reads “Pure liquid Canadian honey — Canada No. 1 White.” And that means… what exactly? Is the honey pasteurized or heated? Is it ultra-filtered? What does “pure liquid honey” actually mean? Whatever it is, it tastes like melted plastic to me, at least when I compare it to the raw honey from our hives.

What is it that makes grocery store honey, even “pure liquid honey,” taste more like a bottle of Elmer’s Glue than honey? Does heating the honey, whether to pasteurize or clarify it, kill all the goodness in it? Or does large-scale blending of honey from various hives through a single extractor result in a homogenous honey, a honey with a consistent — but bland — flavour?

I don’t know. But I sure do like our honey.

UPDATE (Dec. 09/11): Here are some informed responses to this post (much more informed than me anyway): Honey so bland it’s boring; So, What is Honey, Really? – Part 2; Pasteurizing honey… whatever for?; So, What is Honey, Really? – Part 3. And if you like that, you might also find this interesting: So is it honey or not?

4 thoughts on “What Makes Honey Taste Bland?

  1. I think you’re right, that both the flash heating and mixing together of honey from multiple hives or even countries in the case of some cheap honey don’t do anything for flavour. The volatile aromatic compounds within honey can easily get destroyed. The best honey I’ve ever tasted has been sucked from brace comb straight out of my hive on a warm summers day :)

  2. Even the small micro sized bits of wax should enhance flavor. Think about it the wax is essentially a type of fat. We all know fat makes things taste good. So it may help amplify and improve the taste.

    But I have to agree with the heating aspect. Everyone that has tried my honey this year was amazed by the flavor and taste.

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