Focus on Local: Kowalski's Honey
Posted: Saturday, October 1, 2011
Our search for great honey led us to beekeeper Bruce Marquette in Little Falls, Minnesota. Owner of Marquette Honey Farm, Bruce is a third-generation beekeeper, having learned the craft from his father and grandfather who started in the business back in 1905. Bruce bottles our Signature honey using single-source honey, the best quality you can buy.
"My wife and I have been beekeepers for 23 years in Little Falls and have always produced single-source honey, selling it directly to our customers," said Bruce. "We produce from the middle of June through the middle of August when our bees get nectar from basswood and clover. This is the time of year when we get the best-quality nectar in Minnesota."
The remainder of the year, Marquette bees continue to be productive in other ways. Every fall, the hives are loaded onto semi trucks for the journey to California. In mid-February, the bees are used to pollinate almonds as well as plums, apples, cherries and other fruit trees in the orchards there. "I go to California myself the end of March and split the hives, introducing new queen bees to increase my number of hives," adds Marquette. "The hives are then shipped back to Minnesota at the end of April to get ready for the honey production season here."
When it is time to harvest the honey, the bees are moved to two boxes in the bottom of each hive. The boxes on the top of each hive, called honey supers, are then pulled off and placed in a hot room overnight to stay warm. The wax seal is then removed from the honey comb and the combs are placed in a large extracting machine where they are spun to remove the honey. The honey is stored in 55-gallon barrels until needed and then gently heated to no more than 140°, filtered and bottled for sale.
Bruce also bottles raw honey for Kowalski's, a product that is valued by many for its medicinal properties. "Many people with allergies consume a teaspoon of raw honey every day as a means of relieving their allergy symptoms," offers Bruce. "Since it isn't heated, the naturally-occurring enzymes and peroxides aren't altered. Raw honey is unfiltered and therefore contains small amounts of pollen and propolis. Lots of home remedies that include raw honey have been used for years, and people swear by them."
Our focus on local has created a great partnership with Marquette Honey Farm that we hope continues for years to come. "Our thirteen-year-old son has recently become interested in working with us, so we too look forward to continuing our business into the next generation," adds Bruce.
Honey has a very long shelf life if stored properly. To keep honey fresh longer, store it in an airtight container at room temperature in a dark, dry place to prevent crystallization. If the honey does crystallize, put the container in a pan of hot water until the crystals dissolve. It can also be microwaved on medium power for five to ten seconds or until it liquefies.
Cooking with Honey
- Measuring honey can be difficult as it has a tendency to stick to the measuring cup or spoon. To prevent this, coat the utensil with cooking spray or dip it in oil before measuring.
- For general cooking, you can substitute one cup of honey for every 1 1/4 cups of sugar called for in the recipe. You should also reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.
- In baking, you should replace no more than half the amount of sugar in the recipe. It is recommended that you add 1/8 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients if the recipe has no baking soda, baking powder or other acidic ingredient such as citrus, yogurt or sour cream. The oven temperature will also need to be lowered by 25° to prevent overbrowning.
Honey Ideas to Sweeten Your Meal
HONEY-ROASTED TOMATOES: Toss 1 dry pint Kowalski's Sweet Grape Tomatoes with 2 tbsp. Kowalski's Pure Honey and 1 tbsp. canola oil. Arrange on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet so tomatoes aren't touching. Roast in a preheated 400° oven 15 min.; turn each tomato. Continue roasting until tomatoes are slightly chewy (15-20 min.). Sprinkle with kosher salt and Kowalski's Coarse Ground Black Pepper; cool. Serve on salads, sandwiches or eat out of hand.
HONEY BUTTER: In small bowl, whisk together 3 tbsp. softened unsalted butter, 1 tbsp. Kowalski's Pure Honey, 1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice and 1/4 tsp. sea salt until thoroughly combined.
HONEY MUSTARD: In small bowl, combine 6 tbsp. Kowalski's Pure Honey and 1/4 cup Dijon mustard; refrigerate up to 1 month.
HONEY RANCH DIPPING SAUCE: In small bowl, combine 1 cup Stonyfield Farm Organic Lowfat Plain Yogurt, 1/4 cup light mayonnaise, 2 tbsp. Kowalski's Pure Honey and 1 (0.4 oz.) pkg. Original Ranch Salad Dressing Mix (4 1/2 tsp.). This is a great sauce for chicken or fish.
MINNESOTA SUNDAE: Place scoop of vanilla bean ice cream in small bowl. Drizzle with Kowalski's Pure Honey; sprinkle with sunflower nuts.