A few years ago honey wasn’t among my list of favourite ingredients. It was something that I turned to when having to remedy a sore throat or some other respiratory tract allergy. My equation with this liquid gold didn’t really change until I was introduced to some wild honey that was extracted naturally from the mountains close to where we live.
It lacked that over powering after taste of mass produced honey and got me hooked onto this sweet condiment.
That led to picking varieties of honey that was sourced consciously by people who respected the land.Closer to home ,the honey that we invested in was procured by hill tribes in small quantities that only relied on surplus rather than robbing the bees of what was rightfully theirs.
It was during a trip abroad that we chanced upon comb honey.Not only had I read about this delicacy but a year or so ago a few friends had shared pictures of the comb honey that was extracted from hives within their home compounds.
The box that we stumbled upon looked well sealed with it’s layers of golden honey comb and I was quite excited at the thought of indulging in a honeycomb tasting with the family. Once the lid came off, we spent a few moments marveling at the complex cross-sections of the honey comb.These little hexagonal chambers created tight knit compartments that prevented the golden nectar from oozing out. It almost seemed a shame to put a spoon through those layers.
The simplest way to eat it is as a topping for toast. We added some salty cream cheese to counter the gooey sweetness. As the spoon went in effortlessly, bits of honey comb broke off and could be easily dolloped on the small squares of bread. From the broken edges of the honey comb the clear honey flowed out into a small puddle on the cream cheese. Visually, it made for the perfect bite.
The slightly crisp toast smeared with the creamy cheese made a perfect base for the honey comb. You can use any salty cheese that you like. Feta , ricotta, haloumi… are all great options for honey comb pairing.
The closest description to the taste and texture of comb honey would be to compare it to the Indian sweet, ghevar. The edible beeswax of the honey comb has a melt in the mouth texture and seamlessly merges with honey ,rendering a lip smacking taste sensation. After downing one ,we all reached out for seconds. The comb honey however is quite sweet, so a little piece on each bite of toast is the perfect quantity to indulge in without feeling too sickly afterward.
Comb honey has actually been around for thousands of years. Honey in it’s purest form is best found inside the comb.With the increase in demand for this natural sweetener ,honey production has led to extensive commercialisation of hives and methods of bee cultivation.
If you google ‘kombu thaen’, the images will show large chunks of honey comb that are extracted along with the honey. A conscientious honey gatherer or bee keeper will only gather in the summer months because that is when the bees go into excess production.
Traditional bee keeping is about knowing when to harvest. When there is an excess of honey , the honey comb will fill up which means that there will not be enough space to raise new bees.Without young bees, the colony will become weak and the old bees will die. Hence it’s best to harvest the excess honey than for bees to die due to lack of space. Once the honey is extracted the bees will move on to a different space and form a new colony rather than stay with the hive.
There are several comb honey retailers online.Educate yourselves and check out a source that appeals to you. This is definitely a gastronomic experience that’s worth discovering. Now you know why and what the bears are so obsessed about 😉 !
Amazon does carry pure honey comb from Mizoram…. do take a look
Alternatively, do check out the Buram brand. They retail in pure honey in all forms.. comb honey ,forest honey and many other kinds. The Buram organic bowl honeycomb is what we found and is featured in this article.