Boekenhout Raw Honey

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Boekenhout raw honey is produced from the indigenous Bushveld Boekenhout tree (Faurea Saligna ), a slender, upright tree, with blackish-brown, growing up to 10m tall.

The flowers are inconspicuous, yellowish white and sessile. Without good rains, bud formation and flowering is poor. Trees are susceptible to fires, which are fairly common in Bushveld regions, especially where there is human settlement. This is an extremely rare honey, and crops are not obtained every year. The honey is reddish brown, viscous and slow granulating with a musty aroma and a strong malty flavour.

Boekenhout honey is not known to be produced by families but by small beekeepers. Some is sold in local markets and some even reach the Johannesburg market. The region where the flowers are found is very specific. Flower formation makes it difficult for bees to access the nectar. Most beekeepers are not interested in keeping the honey pure, so will leave the hives out longer over several flowering seasons of other plants, which means it won’t be a pure Boekenhout but a mixture of different nectars.

In South Africa, there is not a great demand for raw honey as its value and healing properties are not well understood. Most honey is processed either by pasteurization, irradiation (imported from China or other countries) or ultra-filtration. This process also eliminates the healing properties, and some of the flavors.

People are also under the misconception that raw honey is unhygenic, as opposed to processed honey. People often want consistency in flavor, and commercial producers will mix various types of honey together to keep the same flavor and color throughout the year.

Consumers are not interested in the diversity of honeys. A lot of honey in South Africa don’t come from indigenous plants, such as Eucalyptus and kidney bean honey which is from a commercial crop that has likely been sprayed with chemicals.

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Nominated by:Melissa de Billot e Paul Barnard