Bee Mine, Sweet Honeycomb Honey is made by female honeybees that collect nectar from flowers, mix it with enzymes and regurgitate it (yum!) into honeycomb cells. Once the water content of this concoction reduces to less than 20% (the bees beat their wings in the hive to help evaporation, wowzers!) it is considered honey. The bees then put a seal on each cell and it is stored for times when they need food, like the winter. Kept this way, honey, will in essence, last forever – this is why it is considered the only food on planet earth that never spoils.
Honeycomb is altogether miraculous. To behold its sheer geometrical perfection is like a religious experience, and to see evidence of the deep, clear intelligence that built such a structure is humbling. It is altogether delicate and strong, housing the clear, liquid gold inside each of its cells so perfectly. Made of natural wax that the female bees excrete, it is built into the ingenious, space-saving, hexagonal cells that contain their larvae, store pollen and honey. The wax itself is totally edible, but some folks like to chew it up and spit it out after they’ve gotten all the honey out of it. The flavour of the wax depends greatly on the flowers the bees were collecting nectar from, but for the most part it is mildly sweet and mellow-tasting.
The wonderful thing about purchasing honeycomb is that you know the honey is raw, unpasteurized, unclarified, unfiltered, and real. Nothing has been done to it. It is loaded with all the things that make honey good for us, like enzymes, propolis, and all of its antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties. It may surprise you to learn that most of the commercial honey available in the grocery store has been pasteurized and ultra-filtered, rendering it rather ineffectual. It is also important to check the label on your honey, as some brands cut their product with less expensive high-fructose corn syrup and other processed sweeteners. Like with so many foods these days, purchasing locally from a reliable source is the only way to ensure a clean and totally natural product.
Look for honeycomb at farmers markets and natural food stores. Late summer and autumn are usually when farmers harvest their honey so it will be freshest at this time of year. If you purchase fresh honeycomb in plastic, transfer it to a sealable glass container when you get home. Store in a dark place at room temperature.
Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb Serves 10-12Ingredients:
¼ cup milk of your choice (nut, seed, goat, rice…)
6 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
6 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups pumpkin puree (I used 1 small Hokkaido pumpkin of 2 lbs / 1kg)
2 cups / 350g wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. fine grain sea salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground clove
1 cup / 100g walnuts, roughly chopped (substitute with any other nut or seed, if desired)
½ cup / 50g chopped dark chocolate (optional, but delicious)
Fresh honeycomb (from an organic source, if possible)
Flaky sea salt to garnish
1. If making your own pumpkin puree, preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C. Slice the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and place on a baking sheet, cut sides down and roast until soft, about 30 minutes (time varies depending on the size of your pumpkin). When cool enough to handle, place both halves in a food processor and blend on high until as smooth as possible (for extra nutrients and ease, try and find a pumpkin with edible skin, such as Hokkaido).
2. Reduce oven to 350°F / 175°C.
3. Line a standard loaf pan with baking paper, or lightly oil and dust with flour, shaking out excess (a silicon loaf pan works well too).
4. Put the milk, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and pumpkin puree in a blender and blend until smooth.
5. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add pumpkin mixture and combine using as few stroked as possible. Fold in nuts and chocolate.
6. Pour batter into a loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and let cool on a wire rack.
7. To serve, toast or grill slices of the pumpkin loaf until warm and crusty. Slice a portion of honeycomb, let sit on the warm bread until very soft, then smash with a knife, sprinkle with good, flaky sea salt and enjoy.