Our philosophy on honey

When you taste single-source raw honey compared to cheap supermarket honey the difference is clear.
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What is the difference in taste, flavour and quality of "fake" or "adulterated" honey with added syrups and sugars compared with real honey?

Last year as part of our anniversary events we ran a bee masterclass. During this day we invited Honey Sommelier and Co-Founder of  the sustainable beekeeping practice Bermondsey Street Bees, Sarah Wyndham Lewis to take participants through a honey tasting.  The experience was astounding. The difference the terroir and provenance of can make to the flavour of honey was remarkable. The last honey we tasted was a cheap supermarket honey. We wondered why Sarah left this one until last, however as soon as we placed the spoon in our mouths the difference was clear.  

 
 

It was then that Sarah told us that this type of product should not be allowed to be called “honey”. It is nothing to do with the other rich, delicious, flavoursome honeys that we just tasted. She went on to say that low price point/ supermarket honeys are highly processed and often adulterated and should be labelled “honey flavoured syrup” as this is precisely what they are.  

How can you tell the difference?

When you taste single-source raw honey compared to cheap supermarket honey the difference is clear. Real honey has an entirely different mouth-feel and behaves differently on the palate, leaving  long and pleasurable aftertastes.

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Why did you decide to keep your own bees?

Lara Boglione our Managing Director and daughter of our founders Gael and Francesco introduced our hives to the gardens of Petersham House years ago when she had finished studying social anthropology at SOAS.  Since then our honey production has grown and we now have 7 hives and our own bee keeper.

The Boglione family have built a business that is centred around nature and the environment. Rooted to a belief  that you can operate in business working alongside nature rather than against it, it makes perfect sense to have bees in our garden, pollinating the flowers, plants and trees within the nurseries and Petersham House garden. Our 7 hives in turn make the most deliciously floral honey that we use in our restaurants.

Do you believe it's better to eat local honey and why?

It’s good to eat local honey, however there are also many delicious and interesting single-source honeys from around the world too.  In the same way that amazing wine or olive oil can be enjoyed and savoured so should honey. The taste, consistency, colour and texture is drastically dependant upon where it has come from.

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What do you think about "fake" "adulterated" honey made with cheap syrups?

They would never be our choice to eat. Honey is the very original luxury product….the first sweetness that humans ever encountered. It is a precious and extraordinary foodstuff, not meant to be blended and processed into a cheap commodity.

Why is it so important to consumers and diners now to know exactly where their honey comes from?

In the same way that people should know and understand where their meat comes from and how it has been produced, or what environment their vegetables have been grown in, you should understand the provenance of your honey. It is important also to know what effect its method of production has had on the final product in order to make an informed purchasing decision.  PN believe in the Slow Food philosophy – GOOD, CLEAN, FAIR

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What questions should consumers ask when looking to buy real, quality honey?

The best way to buy real honey is always direct from a beekeeper, or failing that from a source who you trust to have done due diligence on the provenance of what they are selling.

Are consumers increasingly clued up about possible "fake" honey?

We think that consumers are becoming increasing clued up, however there is a long way to go. The only way that things will change is if a light is shone on imitation products such as this.

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Is there more of a demand for honeycomb itself and consumers taking an interest in provenance/what exactly it is they're eating/the impact of bees on the environment etc?

People love honey straight from the comb and it is becoming increasingly popular. Obviously it’s a product that would be extremely hard to produce fraudulently and it has undergone no processing whatsoever. This is appealing.

Anything else important to consider when deciding what honey to buy or serve in a restaurant?

Again, sourcing direct  from a reputable producer is the only way  to ensure top quality