We spent the last weekend doing a final round of spring inspections and preparing for package bees at two of our existing apiaries. We were fortunate enough to have a bit of drawn comb and extra frames of honey and pollen, so these bees are getting a few housewarming gifts.
The drawn comb will help our new hives get a head start on brood rearing, since the
queen can start laying eggs immediately. Natural honey and pollen are the best food for bees and will ensure that our new hives can feed their young even if there is a cold snap or a lack of forage.
Our bees are still going to need a bit of food, though, so we started making light sugar syrup to help them build honeycomb. If you were ever curious about what a metric ton of sugar looks like (no, seriously…we bought and unloaded 2200
pounds of sugar), see below. This should make about 500 gallons of sugar syrup.
Talk about a sweet tooth.
Hives with honey, pollen, empty comb, and foundation are ready for packages.
Eighty-eight 25 lb bags of sugar.
Short on time because of equipment building? Fear not. You can still enjoy a home-cooked meal with plenty of time leftover for sorting through junk mail. This recipe was thrown together in about half an hour and turned out quite tasty. Rice Bowls with Honey-Glazed Salmon, Toasted Nori, and Quick Pickles
Serves 2 Ingredients
1 cup dry jasmine rice (or 3 cups prepared) Salmon
2 - 4 oz salmon filets, skin removed
1 Tbs HONEY
1 Tbs soy sauce (recommended: San-J tamari)
1 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce Pickles
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed, rinsed, and steamed
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 sheet toasted seaweed (nori), torn into small pieces
toasted sesame seeds
Prepare rice according to package directions. I like to use the absorption method. For long grain rice, two cups of water to one cup rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes and then remove from heat and let stand covered for an additional 10 minutes. Fluff and serve.
Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Prepare a rimmed cooking sheet with foil.
While broiler is preheating, prepare quick pickles. In a medium bowl, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Microwave 30 seconds to dissolve sugar and salt. Toss vegetables in vinegar and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the honey, soy, and sriracha. Set aside. Place salmon on sheet and season with salt and black pepper. Broil for 5 minutes. Brush honey mixture over each filet and broil again for 3-5 minutes, or until fish is opaque.
To serve, place a serving of rice in a bowl. Scatter pieces of nori over rice and then top with chunks of salmon and pickled vegetables. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and additional hot sauce, if desired.
It's like Habitat for Humanity, but with a higher chance of being stung in the face. Package bee season is right around the corner, and we've been busy building equipment for our upcoming expansion. A LOT of equipment. You might even say we've been (sorry in advance) busy as bees. Don't groan...there WAS a preemptive apology.
We're planning for seventy new hives (~700,000 bees!), and each new colony will need a full set of equipment (bottom board, several deep boxes, frames with foundation, inner covers, telescoping covers, and more). Everything has to be assembled, primed, and painted before the bees arrive next month. Even the perpetually enthusiastic Brownie is tired from all the work.
Despite Brownie's lack of enthusiasm, we're very excited about the 2013 season. We'll be placing hives in a few new locations and are eager to see what types of honey the bees produce. If you can't wait until the fall, we still have honey from our 2012 season, so send us an email if you're running low.
In case you're interested in learning more, below is a video demonstrating the process for assembling frames with wired foundation. Once the new bees come in, we'll provide them with these frames so they can build their honeycomb in a neat and convenient manner.
This is just a small portion of the equipment needed this year!
The holiday season is officially in full swing, which means ugly sweater parties, dinner with friends, family gatherings, and unannounced guests. This month we'll be providing a few of our favorite quick-fix honey recipes for impromptu entertaining. Stay warm out there!
Camembert with Berries and Honey
Toss sliced berries with a tablespoon or two of honey. Slice a round of camembert in half and spoon the berry mixture over the middle and across the top. Serve with water crackers or a crusty baguette.
Feeling adventurous? Try adding a handful of toasted almonds or some fresh mint. Brie also works well if you can't find camembert in your grocery.
Shortbread cookies are one of our favorite baked goods and are surprisingly easy to make. Three basic ingredients – flour, sugar, and butter – are transformed from simple pantry staples into a delicious, crumbly treat. In many ways, this mirrors our approach to honey: keep it pure and let the flavors speak for themselves.
We recently stumbled across these at a small coffee shop off the beaten path and have been itching to recreate them. These are seriously delicious cookies. Slightly chewy on the top. Light and buttery underneath. And insanely fragrant from raw, natural honey. If possible, these are even more addictive than classic shortbread. Hope you enjoy these as much as we do.
Yield: 8-12 cookies
1-2/3 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup HONEY
1/2 tsp salt (kosher or sea salt recommended)
Lightly grease the bottom of a 10” springform pan (or tart pan with removable rim).
Pulse flour and sugar together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread evenly and press into the bottom of the pan using your fingertips. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Carefully dock the refrigerated dough with a fork. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the shortbread from the oven and pour the honey evenly over the surface, spreading with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with salt and return to the oven to bake for another 2-3 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the ring from the pan and cut into wedges while still warm. Allow to cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.
Rinse your hands with cold water and dry before pressing the dough into the pan with your fingertips. This will help keep the butter cold and the dough from sticking to your hands.
Some crumbs will remain around the edges after pressing the dough into the pan. A few more crumbs will form while docking the dough. Don’t worry. This is normal.
Use a sharp knife and make sure to cut the shortbread into pieces while still warm. If you wait until it cools completely, you may shatter the cookies when cut
Many of you read about Varroa mite control in our last newsletter. This is an educational video we made this fall showing some of the chemical treatment options for Varroa:
We made two new videos showing how we harvest honey. Curious about the process? Check these out:
If you haven’t tried baklava before, you’re missing out. Flaky sheets of pastry filled with butter and spiced walnuts and then drizzled (read: drenched) with a scented honey syrup. Baklava takes a little time and patience but is simpler to make than you’d expect. The secret to our recipe is infusing simple syrup with lemon, vanilla, and cardamom before finally adding the honey. The addition of lemon helps cut through the sweetness of this treat and adding the honey last helps preserve the delicate floral notes of raw, unheated honey. Enjoy!
Yield: about 96 pieces
1 bag (14-16 oz) chopped walnuts
1 ½ cup sugar, divided
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 pound frozen phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
1 cup water
1 lemon (zested and juiced), or 2 Tbs lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp cardamom seeds (optional)
1 cup HONEY
½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 °F. Lightly butter the bottom of two 9" x 13" rimmed cookie sheets.
In the bowl of a food processor, add walnuts, ½ cup sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse to combine until the walnuts are finely chopped and crumbly. Set aside.
Unfold pastry sheets and cover with a damp towel to prevent drying out (see cook’s notes). Carefully place one sheet into the bottom of a pan. Brush with butter and cover with another sheet of pastry, repeating until you have used ten sheets of pastry. Brush the top layer with butter and then spread half of the walnut mixture over the top, pressing gently and covering evenly out to the sides and corners. Place another sheet of pastry on top of the walnut mixture. Carefully brush with butter (this layer may slide around a bit) and then cover with another sheet of pastry. Continue layering pastry and butter until you have used another ten sheets (20 sheets total). Brush top layer with butter. Trim edges if necessary to fit inside the pan. Repeat with remaining ingredients for the second tray.
With a sharp knife, cut completely through the layers lengthwise (into five strips along the long edge of the pan) and then diagonally to form diamonds. Aim for pieces about 1-2 inches across. The smaller pieces at the ends will end up as triangles rather than diamonds.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and flaky.
While the baklava bakes, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar with the water, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly (to about 115 degrees) then stir in honey and vanilla.
Remove baklava from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour honey syrup evenly over the baklava. Cool completely before serving. If not serving immediately, tightly cover and store in a cool place.
Phyllo leaves will dry out quickly and will become brittle. Work quickly and use a damp towel to cover the leaves between additions, folding back and re-covering while assembling the baklava. The phyllo we purchased is ~40 sheets per pound (9” x 13” sheets). If you can only find larger dough, cut in half before using. Alternatively, feel free to use a larger pan and trim off the excess before baking.
Resist the urge to combine the honey with the sugar syrup before boiling or while it's too warm. If you can avoid overheating the honey, more of the pure honey taste will stay intact.
If you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to swap out some of the walnuts for almonds or pistachios.
The beginning of autumn is a wonderful time of the year – cooler weather, freshly extracted honey, the long-awaited return of football…and, of course, seasonal allergies. Well, maybe that last one isn’t quite so awesome. But, there are few things that bring comfort quite like baby back ribs, and these are some of the best we’ve tasted. Honey for sweetness and caramelization. A double hit of spice from the dry rub and the Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. All for under thirty minutes of active prep time, so you have more time to cheer for your team and scream at the refs for being blind. Enjoy!
2 racks baby back ribs
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs chili powder (chipotle, hatch, or dixon recommended)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1 Tbs oil
1/4 sweet onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili (chipotle, hatch, or dixon recommended)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water
4 Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs dijon or whole grain mustard
1 Tbs soy sauce (tamari recommended)
1 Tbs worchestershire sauce
1 Tbs vinegar (white or apple cider)
1/3 cup HONEY
salt and black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and place off to the side.
In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat oil over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, paprika, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful not to scorch the spices. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute while stirring. Add water to the pan and stir to combine. Add ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, worchestershire, vinegar, and honey, whisking to combine. Simmer until sauce has reduced slightly and thickened. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and set aside.
Pat the ribs dry and then liberally season on both sides with the spice rub, pressing to ensure good contact. You can start cooking immediately, but allowing the ribs to sit at least two hours (preferably overnight in the refrigerator) will let the seasonings absorb into the ribs.
When you’re almost ready to cook, preheat your oven to 300 degrees and arrange a baking rack in the center of the oven.
Wrap each rack of ribs in a double layer of aluminum foil (meat-side down) and crimp to seal. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 2 to 2 ½ hours, or until the meat starts to pull away from the bone.
Remove ribs from oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Preheat broiler. When broiler is ready, peel back foil from ribs, tip to the side to pour off any liquid/fat, and brush the sauce on the bone-side of the ribs. Broil until slightly charred and the sauce is bubbling. Carefully flip ribs over, apply sauce on the meaty side, and return to broiler until slightly charred and bubbling. Slice into 2-3 rib segments and serve with any remaining sauce.
If the thick outer membrane is still on your ribs (bone side), remove from the rack prior to applying the dry rub. We like to use the handle of a dinner spoon to get it started and then a firm grip with a kitchen towel to remove the membrane in one piece.
Although we did these in the oven, you can certainly use a large grill if you have access to one. Pile the coals on the side of the grill or light the outside burners to create a cooler zone for slow-cooking the ribs. Finish off over high heat after applying the glaze to create charred spots.
Sauces are always a matter of personal preference. If you like more heat, try adding cayenne pepper or a splash of your favorite hot sauce. If it's too hot for you, adjust by adding a little more honey.
It’s National Honey Month! To celebrate, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite recipes using honey. Stay tuned...it's going to be a delicious month.