This is a first in a short series introducing the bee-keepers who bring you the beautiful range of Raw Heritage Honeys from Portugal available here at Wild about Honey.
Wild about Honey is committed to bringing the best of the Artisan produced honeys from Portugal. We like to take great care when sourcing our honey, so we always like to meet the bee-keeper in person and find out about their bee-keeping practices, specifically non use of feeds etc how many hives they have and their location, then we love to taste their honeys looking for that unique quality of product that we like to bring to you.
We come across a lot of versions of each type of honey, suffice to say we’ve probably tried over 30 types of wild lavender. We try to settle on one which is a classic version, and which we can get in sufficient quantity and quality (and price).
We also decline honeys that do not have that alive quality and good taste factor that we are looking for.
So who are these producers, the bee-keepers who keep this heritage alive and practice and preserve this art.?
Recently we visited Sr Fernando who keeps hives all over on the extreme SW region of Portugal. An area known for the absolute purity of the honey. (Honey standards of purity are highly regulated here and have to meet incredibly rigorous standards. It has to be tested negative for contaminants at 10 ppb- parts per billion!) His Melaria (honey warehouse/factory) is less than 5km from the coast. Fernando is middle aged and has been bee-keeping for over 32yrs. He started off with 100 hives from his father and now has close to 2000. He is a gentle, mild mannered and erudite man with a wealth of information on bees and honey, He talked at length about the life cycle of bees, local botany, and about research he had participated about the antibacterial properties of different honey varietals.
We have been in search of a Portuguese Heather honey locally called “Urze” which comes from the flower of the “Erica Lusitanica” (unlike the heather honey from the British Isles which comes from the flower of the Calluna Vulgaris plant. The honey from this plant is not thixotropic like the Calluna heather honey varietal). Fernando mentioned that he had identified six different species of Erica locally, which are a principal source of food for the bees over the winter months. Each one flowering at different times and creating distinctly different honeys.
It is dark, rich, slightly bitter, smoky and truly distinctive, and it hits the back of the throat with a beautiful complex flavour.. Widely acknowledged as having strong antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It is has become my instant favourite.(at least for now)
We tasted over 10 different multiflores or wild flower honeys all uniquely different in colour and taste. Some light and sweet some dark and rich. some nutty, some more floral all variations on a theme, but all with a quite distinct western Algarvian wildflower character. ( we intend to supply one of these next year). At present we source a wildflower from the central Algarve which is quite distinctly different.
We came back from Sr Fernandos some of his finest “Urze” Heather honey.(and Sunflower honey)
He said it had been a good year for heather honey, but at some point before harvesting the weather changed and the bees ate most of it, which for us is a sign of a good beekeeper, In other places it would have been taken and the bees fed sugar syrup. We hope to have more of his elegant and expertly made honeys next year. Look for his honey online here only and hurry because it wont last long...