Honey that deserves a second look- this is what Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey is. After mentioning this honey in a previous post, I thought it was worth another glance as there is more to this exceptional honey than meets the eye. Originating from the flowering parts of Tasmanian Leatherwood trees, this resplendently unique tasting honey may be the last of its kind. I never anticipated that such superlatives could be used in describing, of all foods honey, but this one is certainly worth every adjective it is embellished with. You might say this is a saccharine romance, and indeed it is. With a honey so rare and so irreplaceable, I would even go as far as to say that this needs to be on your list of flavours to try before you die. Yes, put this on your list alongside truffles, Pierre Hermé desserts and possibly, purely out of interest the durian fruit, but nonetheless, this honey is a must.
Leatherwood Honey assumes a distinctive spicy flavour, that either makes you a supporter or a detractor. This honey has been known to divide people; some just cannot abide by the honey’s unusual taste and smell. Do not get me wrong, Leatherwood honey still tastes of honey; and because it is not so sickeningly sweet, the honey and the honeycomb lends to being eaten directly. Although when spread on a thick piece of toast it also cannot err. Just imagine, vibrant amber hues of this sticky delight flavouring your palate with nectary accents and bouquets of fresh flowers. The honey reads like a fine wine, yet the process in achieving such depth of flavour comes naturally without any human interference. Most blended honeys loose much evidence of the flowers from which the bees extracted the nectar from, however with this honey the Leatherwood plant’s scent manifests itself in the end product. Press your nose up to some of this honey and you will smell a strong aroma of fresh flowers.
Why could this honey be the last of its kind? Well, when you think of Tasmania, you envisage lush green woods, mist covered mountains and untouched landscapes. Tasmania almost seems like the last frontier; however this portrait is not quite as picturesque. The Leatherwood tree is under threat due to severe logging and is putting the Tasmanian honey industry at risk. You see the Leatherwood plant is endemic to Tasmania and accounts for up to 70% of all the honey being produced in this region. So no Leatherwood Trees ultimately mean, no Leatherwood Honey and unfortunately due to the narrow-sightedness of urbanisation, apiarists and the honey industry in Tasmania are not a main concern on the agenda. The problem is slowly being addressed, but at what cost should we compromise a resource so unique to this region?
Do not despair; Leatherwood honey is under threat, but thus far not extinct. This honeycomb was procured at the recent Grower’s Market. I asked the stallholder how to properly eat the honeycomb and he said that there are two ways. One is to eat the honeycomb wax and all; another is to spit the comb out once you have extracted all the honey in your mouth. As unpleasant and uncouth as this sounds, I do prefer the latter method as the notion of eating wax does disconcert me a little. I was reassured by the honey-man that eating the wax bears no ill effects on your digestion or your health but it still felt like I was swallowing a candle. And seeing as that I have already endorsed knife-licking, biscuit-dipping and more recently the Homer Simpson style of ingestion on this blog, I have no qualms about sanctioning wax-spitting as well. I am really not one for eating anything that resembles a candle, however if you are not opposed to swallowing the wax, then by all means.