It’s sunny and there’s lots of honey!

Last Saturday, the LCC Pine Street Factory Store partnered with the Vermont Beekeepers’ Association and Slow Food Vermont to celebrate and educate – all about honey!

While most of us eat honey regularly (in our breakfast, tea, and even chocolate), very few people really know what it takes to bring it from the bees to the bear-shaped containers we buy it in. On Saturday, we set out to change that.

The store was buzzing from noon until 4 pm with people eager to learn – and taste – the whole process. The event was set up as a series of tasting tables, starting with the always-popular “Learn to Taste” table, run by Pam Chomsky-Higgings from Slow Food Vermont. A mysterious series of clear liquid solutions let everyone taste the differences in the five main tastes, and helped “train the palate” before moving on to the many forms and varieties of honey.

Next, attendees had the opportunity to pick the brains of two very experienced local beekeepers – Bill Mares and Scott Wilson. They answered a wide variety of questions about their work in honey making, and also provided equipment to look at and different forms of honey for tasting. Unfamiliar forms like honey straight from the comb, creamed honey, and even whipped honey were the most popular!

Mara Welton from Slow Food Vermont led the third station – a flight of honeys. Groups started by tasting bee pollen, which is the starting point for any honey production. Mara encouraged eating just one pellet at a time, because each piece of pollen originated on a different flower and would have a unique flavor and sweetness. After tasting the pollen, the tasting groups sampled four different honeys. Each was unidentified, and Mara asked participants to describe the flavors and sensations they noticed from each honey. Responses varied from “floral” and “delicate” to “dark and complex, like molasses.” Three of the honeys were local varieties and one was a commercial blend. Part of the tasting was trying to guess which was the commercial honey, and it wasn’t as easy as it seemed!

As with any event hosted at LCC, we didn’t want anyone leaving without trying lots of chocolate. Tying together the celebration of honey and the taste education, we provided a station for attendees to taste the gourmet chocolates we make every day that feature the unique sweetness of honey, and we encouraged everyone to slow down and really taste what a wonderful combination chocolate and honey can be. Honey Caramel Chocolates of Vermont, Organic Honey Fig truffles, and our best-selling Caramel Five Star Bar were all on offer, and all very much enjoyed.

To top off the event, we were featuring a brand-new drink in our café – a honey latte made with local wildflower honey from Waterbury. It received a warm, sweet welcome, and will be sticking around for a while!