"These utterly unique honeys rank as the best I have ever tasted. American Tupelo, Kiwi Manuka, Australian Jara, Scottish Heather, and Tasmanian Leatherwood, move over! I no longer have any time for my Greek Thyme!! So completely deep, and exotic, are the kaleidoscopic flavour profiles these Portuguese honeys present, my sweet tooth has abandoned ice cream, chocolate, and hard-candy for a clearly superior force. As a wine writer, and long-time collector, I recognise an exemplary palate when I taste the evidence. Well done, Wild about Honey, don't ever become civilised!!! "Dominic.
Excuse the pun, but it's hard to avoid. It's that time of year again, the honey harvests are coming in and it is when we buy many of our honeys for the entire year. This basically entails getting in a car and visiting all the wonderful beekeepers we work with and source from, to see how things are going and to hopefully secure the very best of what is available. So far I would say it's a pretty good year and the quality across the board has been stellar.
It was a joy to be driving around the back roads of the now very dry and dusty Algarve and Alentejo. The muffled stillness of baked earth, an austere backdrop to the sleepy villages in the afternoon sun. It was good to see once again, those familiar faces and taste some superb honey. Sometimes in the midst of all the requirements of business and looming BRexit worries I just forget how deeply fortunate we are to share in this alchemical distillation of terroir; the transformation of millions of tiny drops of flower nectar into this magical, super-conscious, life giving, high art made by honey bees and dedicated artisan beekeepers who take the trouble to make mono-floral honeys.
I started off visiting one of my principal suppliers and to my dismay he has had a most terrible year, literally getting one kilo of honey per hive from over 200 hives, plenty of bees, just no honey. The western Algarve saw some now not so uncharacteristic weird weather in the spring, which saw many wildflowers just wither away before the bees had even had a chance. Which means that oddly enough this year finding a wildflower honey of character and balance has been a real challenge.
This was not a happy start, fortunately the next day, another producer only 25km away had had an excellent harvest, not in terms of overall quantity, but certainly quality and enough of it to secure a Wild lavender which I consider a perfect balance of sweetness and citric acidity. Also some rather good and very moreish wildlflower honey which has already been on my toast two days running.
Next was a visit to a new (2nd year with us) beekeeper, a young gentle giant of a man,Luis. Luis lives deep in Orange Blossom country in Silves in amongst the Orange groves, and for the second year running has produced an excellent classic floral orange blossom honey, which you will also be able to enjoy very soon.
The tricky part was always going to be the Thyme honey. The Algarvian Thyme honey comes from the central to eastern Algarve and there is a very small amount produced, and even less of the best aromatic and floral type. Sometimes I buy tiny amounts at very elevated prices, wherever I can get it, just so that we have it in stock. Earlier this year, we actually ran out much earlier than usual so I am hoping that we have perhaps done enough to secure it from three different sources. The next two weeks will tell all as that is when the rest of the Thyme harvest comes in. I tried some Spanish Thyme honey this year, the colour looked promising but it was one dimensional in comparison and not really the same honey at all. Not even close. In case you are in any doubt, I think I Algarvian Thyme honey is the best in the world,( yes every bit as good as Cretan Thyme honey) mainly because we have many species of quite rare thyme plants accompanied by a sympathetic showing of other complimentary wildflowers which all go together to make a dark, aromatic, highly floral and beautifully balanced honey. Not to mention beekeepers skilled enough to make it.
We also have a surprise this year which will be available probably only online or in shops for a short while. There is a very small amount made and it is only ever sold locally, directly by the beekeepers. This is what the Portuguese call Agua Mel, which prosaically translates as honey water and conveys nothing of the majesty of this amazing substance. Agua Mel is made by taking all of the cappings and comb from the honey extraction and squeezing it out in a press and then gentle simmering it for up to 10 hours. The result is spectacular, a thick black propolis rich, molasses like substance which the beekeepers swear by for all infections and ill health. It is a painstaking labour of love and only found in the Algarve and Alentejo regions of Portugal south of the Tagus. Did I mention it, It is absolutely delicious. Look out for it here in Late September. I think I'm going to call it Alentejo Black Gold.
Much of this new honey will find its way on to the shelves from September through till November when we should have run out of the previous years stock.
Till the next time.
She rushed into the kitchen, blood all over her hand, slightly faint and sat down on the floor. Tam is a gardener and landscaper, not fearful of moving huge rocks, even up and down slopes. Sometimes, fortunately not very often, the rock has it's say. In this case a nasty smashed finger, both flesh and skin torn off in an ugly gouge even through a glove. We cleaned it with iodine and then dressed it with raw arbutus honey. For the first few days, we changed the dressing every day and after a week, once every two or three days. In just over two weeks, the results are beautiful. No stitches, no drugs, no creams. Wound healing with just a little iodine to clean and Raw Arbutus honey and bandages. Now it's back to the garden..
Pic 1 May 28th, Pic 2 June 4th, Pic 3 June 12th.
it can't have escaped anyone on this planet that there is a hugely infectious pandemic around and that much of the advice is of course public health advice with regard to minimizing exposure to yourself and to others potentially more vulnerable.
The other and equally important dimension to this is keeping your personal immunity and that of your family robust.
The first thing is catch up on sleep, very little helps more than catching up on your typically sleep deprived self. Typically (according to an NIMH study) most people take about two weeks to restore this sleep deficit. Rest as much as your body needs and when it wants.
Sleeping sufficiently will also restore your adrenals( and kidney chi) and balance out your hormonal and autonomic nervous system. Get out of fight/flight/freeze mode and back to balance. Chronic stress will keep you in fight/flight/freeze mode and exhaust you. Remember most of your metabolic repair processes occur while you are asleep.
If you have a meditation practice or practice something meditative like gardening so much the better. Do more. Your thoughts or stress will diminish your immune responses worse than most things. As Edgar Cayce said "why worry when you can pray". It really amounts to using your mind and faculties in a different way. A healthier way altogether. Keep your humour, even if you are unwell. Do not believe your chronic fear and anxiety, even if they seem warranted, for they are not your friends and they will not help you. Spread love instead.
Pranayama, yogic breathing practices, Chi-Kung, Tai-chi, Nei gung, are all invaluable for creating the conditions of health and strengthening your capacity to deal with pathogens in an appropriate manner.
In terms of supplements/ powerful natural anti-virals, use Propolis, you can buy it tinctured or get the raw stuff and tincture it in alcohol yourself. ( will take a couple of weeks). Olive leaf extract is also another powerful anti viral.
Vitamins A Palmitate ( a very bioavailable form) , high doses of Vitaminc C and D. ( get in the sun, as much as possible). As much fresh food as possible given the constraints of supply. Vitamin D and A are powerful hormones which have a profound ability to support and regulate and strengthen your immune system. Sunshine, fresh food, clean and plentiful spring water.
Herbs and Foods
Steam inhalation with essential oils like tea tree and eucalyptus, and camphor or menthol.
If you have access to herbs like Osha Root, or plantain ( not the fruit) herbs with specific compounds for lung health make excellent teas, also don't forget the classic lemon/ honey/ginger tea.
Fermented foods and pickles are amazing, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Yoghurt, Kefir, are all excellent for your gut health/ microbiome, ( the repository of your immune system-responsible for 80% of your immune system). These are super-easy to make at home and ready in a few days. You can have fun with this too, and do it with your kids (and keep them occupied.)
Lastly Raw Arbutus honey, which also has specific compounds which are beneficial for lung health, general immunity and much besides.
Alcohol - Try not to drink or else minimize consumption, Alcohol plays havoc with you immune response and general hormonal and immune system health.
I am adding this section which I edited out when I first published because it is a subject which has become so politicized and propagandized that it is now a case of an idiotic polarization of you either being Vax or Anti-Vax, for which read science/anti-science. Only people with a vested interest in squashing real discussion or the emergence of knowledge create these kind of simple dichotomies. The Salk vaccine did eliminate polio, and the eradication of smallpox by vaccination were both undoubted successes. ( neither of these were live attenuated vaccines and were given singly) The current advice to stay indoors and socially isolate has a benign social and epidemiological purpose, to stop transmission. This is fine. But unaccompanied by real health advice, and I cannot stress this enough, is hugely incomplete, there is big difference between fighting disease and creating the conditions for health. We have become addicted to a kind of idiotic thinking where we simply see pathological conditions as somehow an invisible malign agent from the outside which must be terminated or killed with some kind of pharmaceutical cure. People don't die from Viruses, they die from an un-calibrated immune response by your own body with a compromised immune system. Every human is broadly the same but functionally, we are quite a spectrum, there is no one size fits all solution, vaccines are no exception and if you give them to someone already compromised you will do them harm. Vaccines are also poorly functioning agents which try and incite an immune response from your adaptive immune system, they can compromise your Microbiome, neural and interferon systems and crucially your own ability to fight illness. We now have live attenuated, poorly tested vaccines, often multiple vaccines given at the same time to children and infants. To aid their efficacy adjuvants like aluminium and mercury are added. Remember that when you give someone a vaccine, you are giving them a dose of an illness, one may be OK for a moderately functioning immune system to deal with, many all at once can simply create chaos in the human body. Not to mention the fact that they are poorly tested and never tested together. Please Consider this. Politically and commercially they are expedient and profitable and I have no doubt that i the not too distant future, mandatory vaccinations will be linked to all kinds of social access. Will we all be obliged to take a corona virus vaccine when it emerges? Possibly, and if that is successful it will be a model for future public health policy. Not a future I personally welcome.
In the meantime look after yourself and those you love and anyone else who needs a little help. Stay well, keep loving, keep your humor and remember that despite the grief and despair, in the fullness of time, with patience and courage, this too will pass.
love to all. xR