Recently I indulged my sweet tooth with a visit to a honey factory. Tucked snugly behind Marlborough's Wither Hills, honey man Darren Clifford, exports more than 350 tonnes of honey each year, mainly to Europe and Britan.
The company now retails a variety of Sweet Nature Honeys, including the strong-flavoured manuka plus a blend, creamed and liquid clover, a bush blend, honeydew and blue borage.
Recently I indulged my sweet tooth with a visit to a honey factory. Tucked snugly behind Marlborough's Wither Hills, honey man Darren Clifford, exports more than 350 tonnes of honey each year, mainly to Europe and Britan.
The company now retails a variety of Sweet Nature Honeys, including the strong-flavoured manuka plus a blend, creamed and liquid clover, a bush blend, honeydew and blue borage.
These are available through selected outlets and online.
But how does Darren know that the bees haven't strayed and sourced nectar from other flowers, I wondered.
More than 2500 hives are placed in various parts of the region - in the broad river valleys of the Wairau, the mountains of the Awatere and the native forests of the Marlborough Sounds. In the laboratory the honey is tested for variety and quality and accurate documentation means that each batch is traceable back to its origins in the field, an important detail for international clients re-ordering.
When using honey in cooking it's important to know its source. Strong honey such as Manuka should be used with discretion and is great in spicy barbecue sauces, well-flavoured marinades and vinaigrettes.
The milder clover is the best for baking or desserts.
Interestingly, the addition of honey to cakes and muffins helps keep them moist and improves their keeping quality. Honeydew honey is great on icecream because it becomes firm like hard-set chocolate topping. Blue borage is an excellent tea sweetener.
Substituting honey for sugar cup-for-cup produces a much sweeter result. For cakes, it is best to substitute half to three-quarters of a cup of honey for each cup of sugar and reduce the liquid by about three tablespoons.
Comb honey has the liquid still sealed in its edible waxy comb. One of my favourite endings to dinner is comb honey served with blue vein cheese, sliced ripe pears and an aged riesling.
These are available through selected outlets and online.
But how does Darren know that the bees haven't strayed and sourced nectar from other flowers, I wondered.
More than 2500 hives are placed in various parts of the region - in the broad river valleys of the Wairau, the mountains of the Awatere and the native forests of the Marlborough Sounds. In the laboratory the honey is tested for variety and quality and accurate documentation means that each batch is traceable back to its origins in the field, an important detail for international clients re-ordering.
When using honey in cooking it's important to know its source. Strong honey such as Manuka should be used with discretion and is great in spicy barbecue sauces, well-flavoured marinades and vinaigrettes.
The milder clover is the best for baking or desserts.
Interestingly, the addition of honey to cakes and muffins helps keep them moist and improves their keeping quality. Honeydew honey is great on icecream because it becomes firm like hard-set chocolate topping. Blue borage is an excellent tea sweetener.
Substituting honey for sugar cup-for-cup produces a much sweeter result. For cakes, it is best to substitute half to three-quarters of a cup of honey for each cup of sugar and reduce the liquid by about three tablespoons.
Comb honey has the liquid still sealed in its edible waxy comb. One of my favourite endings to dinner is comb honey served with blue vein cheese, sliced ripe pears and an aged riesling.
RECIPES
HONEY-ROASTED PORK
This recipe is based on one from honey man Darren Clifford. However, Darren cooked his in a covered Weber barbecue. I used a conventional oven.
2.4kg rolled pork shoulder
1 teaspoon each: flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons blue borage honey
4-5 large stalks each: rosemary, thyme, parsley
1/4 cup each: water, apple puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Ask your butcher to finely score the skin of the boned rolled shoulder.
Preheat the oven to 150C. Combine the salt, pepper, oil and honey.
Brush over the meat. Place the herbs evenly in a roasting pan. This makes a rack for the pork. Add the water. Place the pork on top.
Bake for 3.5-4 hours or until cooked and the internal temperature is 71-76C.
Baste occasionally with the honey mix and brush the ends with the apple puree combined with the cinnamon.
Great served with extra apple puree and mustard.Serves 10

LEMON HONEY SYRUP

This sweet, Greek-style lemony syrup is excellent poured over cakes such as a butter cake. It can also be a substitute for maple syrup on French toast or pancakes or poured over ice cream.
1 cup clover or blue borage honey
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan.
Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by a quarter. Cool.
Cover and refrigerate. Pour over hot cakes and serve, or pour over cooled cakes and stand for a few minutes for the syrup to be absorbed before serving.
Makes about 1 cups.
HONEY SNACK BARS
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup each: flaked coconut, wheat germ, chopped skinned hazelnuts or
blanched almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups liquid clover honey
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a large baking pan combine the oats, coconut, wheat germ, hazelnuts or almonds, cinnamon and salt.
Mix the oil, honey and vanilla until smooth then pour over the ingredients in the pan. Mix well.
Bake for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the ingredients brown evenly.
Press the mixture evenly into a well-greased lamington tin and use a strong glass or a can to roll the mixture down firmly.
Cool and cut into bars. Makes about 40 bars.
HONEY-BAKED RHUBARB WITH CINNAMON CROUTONS
String the rhubarb first, if required.

500g rhubarb, cut into 5cm lengths
cup liquid clover honey
3 slices toast-thickness white bread, crusts removed
50g butter
2 tablespoons creamed clover honey
teaspoon ground cinnamon
cup cream, whipped
Preheat the oven to 120C.
Place the rhubarb in a baking dish. Drizzle with the honey. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked. Meanwhile, cut the bread into 1cm croutons.
Melt the butter, honey and cinnamon. Toss the croutons in this mixture to lightly coat.
Bake for 5-10 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Serve the rhubarb warm or cold, topped with whipped cream and the croutons. Serves 4
HONEY MARINADE FOR STEAK
4 tablespoons Prenzel red wine stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons each: water, Manuka honey
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Whisk the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Makes about cup
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