When it comes to bold, full-bodied, complex flavor, one honey rises above the rest. Buckwheat offers a one-two punch of hard and soft — mossy earth followed by a lingering sweetness and a hint of molasses. Honey for the faint-hearted, this is not. All this combined with its dark rusty color and hint of malt is why we give buckwheat the nickname the Guinness of Honeys.
Buckwheat is produced in Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as in eastern Canada. A single bee colony can gather 290 pounds of nectar from an acre of flowering buckwheat, which has white, pink, or yellow blossoms that belie the dark honey produced. Buckwheat is closely related to rhubarb and is neither a form of wheat nor a grass. Some classify it as a “pseudocereal” because it contains edible seeds with complex carbohydrates.
In general, darker honeys have more antioxidants than lighter honeys, and buckwheat is no exception. It also contains more minerals, such as cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. For centuries people have turned to buckwheat honey for the topical treatment of minor wounds and burns, and as an antibacterial agent to promote overall health. Parents in need of a good night’s sleep also credit buckwheat: studies have shown a spoonful of buckwheat honey suppresses coughing better than cough syrup, given its ability to coat and soothe the throat.
Buckwheat honey’s symphony of flavors lends itself to some out-of-the-ordinary uses. We like it as a base for barbecue, especially in our Buckwheat Honey Ribs, or baked into Buckwheat Honey and Ginger Cookies. Dairy unlocks yet another layer of magic in the Guinness of Honeys. Try it on fresh goat cheese, ricotta, and all types of artisan yogurts. For the intrepid, experiment with it as a flavoring agent in your homemade ice cream or in sabayon, like our friend chef Frank Morales.
Wherever you need a bold sweetener, buckwheat honey can help. You thought honey was just for tea? Not anymore. Try buckwheat in coffee and see what happens when two assertive flavors elevate one another. (Hint: everyone wins.) Oh, and you tea fiends shouldn't feel left out. Try it with Pu-erh or your homemade Chai blend.