Wild star thistle flowers bloom in mid-summer in the majestic Front Range of central Colorado, gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. An important (and abundant) nectar source for pollinators during late summer, beekeepers rely on the bloom to make one of the most prized honeys: Colorado Star Thistle Honey.
Yellow star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis)--also known as golden starthistle, yellow cockspur and St. Barnaby’s thistle--originated in Europe but now grows worldwide. Star thistle blooms from July to September in Colorado, when bright yellow flowers (10-50 from a single flowerhead) emerge from a spiny stem. Known as an invasive species throughout the American West, beekeepers have had success containing the plant to promote pollinator health in targeted areas.
Those lucky enough to taste Colorado Star Thistle Honey can expect a thick, creamy texture reminiscent of frosting and a color ranging from water white to green golden. A mild honey with soft notes of cinnamon and a long, sweet finish, it also harbors stemmy, earthy flavor notes. Savor this honey and hear the sweet song of the American West.
Star thistle honey has a high count of small pollen grains and a low relative moisture content, leading to rapid smooth crystallization. All raw honey crystallizes, but a smooth texture means extra spreadability on biscuits, toast and shortbread cookies. (Seriously, try it as a substitute for frosting. Just a thin layer will do.) We also stir it into Assam English Breakfast tea and spread it over stinky washed rind cheeses like taleggio and Wisconsin brick cheese.
FLASH RECIPE: Nectar of the Gods Nightcap
Pour yourself a bourbon neat and add a drizzle of Star Thistle at room temperature. The honey will slow dissolve as you sip. Play with proportions to find your ideal balance.
Like all raw honey, Star Thistle honey has several well established health benefits. For centuries people have turned to raw honey for the topical treatment of minor wounds and burns, and as an antibacterial agent to promote overall health. Raw honey has antioxidants and contains helpful trace elements and minerals, such as cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Star Thistle’s smooth texture and creamy mouthfeel is a boon for parents looking for natural remedies to treat minor digestive discomfort and soothe sore throats.