A New Zealand Honey Classic
What is clover honey?
The unique aroma, flavor and colour of the different varieties of honey are determined by the floral source, such as clover, manuka, honeydew or tawari, from which the bee collects the nectar. Clover Honey is a floral honey mainly from New Zealand and is the most common honey type here mainly due to the big part sheep and dairy farming plays towards New Zealand economy. Grazing pastures are the perfect place to find white clover and for bees to feed from the clover plants. The flower is found throughout most of New Zealand but the prime place to find the clover flower is the South Island.
Clover honey has a pleasing mild taste with a sweet floral flavour making it popular for families with children. Due to its delicate characteristics it is ideal on breakfast cereals, toast, baking and to sweeten drinks. It has a thick, creamy texture making it perfect for spreading. In colour, it is a light amber or white and can be offered in creamed or liquid formats. However, as clover honey crystallises easily into a mass of fine grains creamed types are often more popular.
Determining the quality of clover honey
It is the colour and processing technique that will determine the integrity of your clover honey;
- Colour – the general rule is that the lighter the honey the milder the flavour. Genuine clover honey will be light in colour and, using the official Pfund scale (see more detail below), it should sit between extra white and extra light amber. If it is darker than this it has probably been mixed with other varieties.
- Processing technique: if a company subjects their honey to processing techniques such as filtration and pasteurisation this can result in loss of flavour and pollen count. Some companies will even mix honey varieties to make their version clover honey. The best way to avoid disappointment is to check out the company ethos and chose and clover honey with a high pollen count. A genuine clover honey must have over 45% clover pollen to qualify as genuine according to international standards.
- Locally Produced: understand the company background and the source of their honey to make sure that it is from a local source
Airborne Clover Honey 500g
Airborne Honey have been established in New Zealand for over 100 years making it our oldest honey company. They are a family owned business with a strong passion for the industry and a dedicated drive to ensure standards are maintained and consumers are educated. We were lucky enough to try the Airborne Clover Honey 500g that is part of their premium Monofloral range. Let’s see what these guardians of honey quality have to offer;
The Airborne Monofloral range comprises of 10 delicious honey varieties that are predominantly from one single nectar source from New Zealand plants grown in a natural and pure environment. The range comprises of Tawari, Kamahi, Vipers Bugloss, Clover, Rata, Rewarewa, Manuka, Honeydew, Manuka and Wildflower, Multifloral and Thyme.and offers a spectrum of beautiful flavours from floral to buttery to fruity.
Due to the variety in taste, texture and colour within this collection it makes the perfect range to trial at a honey home tasting session. See some of our ideas below.
What we most like about the Airborne Clover Honey is their company ethos – honest, undamaged and traceable. Due to these three values they give us true transparency when it comes to the quality of their product. Each value is backed up by a quality measure according to the international CODEX standards.The three quality measures can be found on the back of each jar. Here is an explanation of each;
- HMF Number – this is to show the product has not been subjected to high temperatures and remains undamaged. Airborne have developed a patented liquidation process to ensure heat damage does not occur. A number below 10 is good.
- Pollen Count – a pollen count above 45% is the international standard for Clover Honey and Airborne’s variety scores around 82% – this varies depending on year, beekeeper etc. The fact this information is on pack reassures consumers that they are buying an honest product true to the variety
- Traceable: By scanning the QR code on pack or entering the batch number you can trace your jar of honey back to the apiary it came from. The profile of the honey can also be viewed here. With all of us wanting to know the source of our food and the integrity of manufacture’s claims this company goes a step above to keep us satisfied.
Our pot contained an 83% pollen count so we were sure it was the real deal. The taste was divine and much loved by all family members who tried it – old and very young. Usefully, Airborne have a strength rating system on the front of their packs and this variety is considered mild. It has a light floral taste that is interesting yet familiar and leaves a delicious sweet aftertaste. This honey is suitable as an everyday product.
We tried the creamed variety which had a lovely grainy texture that was easy to spread or pour. It was a beautiful pale amber colour as we expected from a clover honey. This is a highly versatile, classic honey.
Airborne Clover Honey is priced at an affordable level and is available in New Zealand supermarkets due to the popularity of Clover Honey in this country. It is at a small premium to some of the other brands ranged but this is in reflection of the dedication Airborne put towards quality standard so it is certainly worth paying that little bit more for.
Steps on how to taste honey like a professional
Like wine and cheese tasting, honey tasting is an art too. There are so many varieties of colour, aroma and flavour depending on the floral source and location in the world. Similar to wine, the characteristics of a variety can differ due to factors such as year, location and beekeeper. Here is how to get the best out of your honey tasting experience at home;
1) When it comes to choosing honey for tasting, select a range of varietals to compare and contrast such as the Airborne Monofloral Range from New Zealand
2) Colour; there is a colour grading system in the world of honey that has seven different colours ranging from water white to dark amber. It is called the Pfund Colour Grading System. It is a great way to check if your varietal type matches the colour expected for that honey.
3) Aroma is a big part of selecting the right honey for you. Before tasting, open the jar and smell the honey aroma. Perhaps use an aroma wheel to put descriptive words against your experience and to describe what you like and don’t like.
4) Taste: The next step is to taste the honey. You only need a small amount, about an eighth of a teaspoon. Allow it to dissolve at the front of the tongue to experience the flavours. Take time to appreciate the aftertaste also. Use a honey tasting wheel to help you describe the honey characteristic and flavour.
5) Before trying another honey variety reset the palate with a drink of hot black tea or unsalted crackers