Friday, May 18, 2012

Honey at Durham Farmers' Market is the Bee's Knees

Honey is back at Durham Farmers' Market! Two honey producers have reported that their hives are filled with honey and harvesting has begun! Like many other crops this season, the season's first honey is coming to Market almost 2 weeks early on account of the mild winter and spring.

Honey is made from the nectar from flowers that honeybees collect. When bees visit flowers, they use their long, tubelike tongues to draw out the nectar which is then stored in their "honey stomachs." Bees, incidentally, have two stomachs. To fill their honey stomachs, bees must visit hundreds of flowers. The by-product of this nectar collection is pollination as pollen grains get stuck to the bees legs as they move from flower to flower.

Once the bees fill their honey stomachs, they return to the hive and deposit the nectar they have collected. Worker bees then go into action and chew on the nectar. During this time, they release enzymes which break down the complex sugars into more digestible simple sugars. Once that process is finished, the bees spread the honey throughout the hive and fan their wings to help evaporate the moisture and make it into the thick consistency that we are familiar with. 

Honey is a pretty amazing product. It is sterile and has anti-bacterial properties. Honey can be administered to a cut to help avoid infections. People even use honey as a gentle facewash!  Because bacteria does not grow in honey, it can last for a long, long time. Beekeeper John Fluke remarked the other day that honey found in tombs in Egypt was still good 2000 years later! 

Starting this weekend, look for raw, unprocessed honey at the Market!  The resident beekeepers should have it available until their stock runs out - typically around the beginning of December.

Vegetables:  Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, Celery, Asparagus, Asian Greens (Pac Choi, Tatsoi, Mizuna), Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Broccoli Raab, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage, Collards, Greenhouse Grown Cucumbers, Daikon Radishes, Dandelion Greens, Escarole, Fava Beans, Fennel, Frisee, Fresh Herbs (Cilantro, Mint, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley) Green Onions, Green Garlic, Garlic Scapes, Greenhouse Grown Green Beans, Gourds, Mustard Greens, Kale, Lettuce, Leeks, New Potatoes, Onions, Radicchio, Rhubarb, Radishes, Rutabega, Salad Mix, Shiitake Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Sugar Snap Peas,  Swiss Chard, Summer Squash Greenhouse Grown Tomatoes, Turnips, Turnip Greens, Zucchini
Fruits: Blueberries, Peaches and Strawberries
Meats and Eggs: Beef, Bison, Cornish Game Hens, Chicken, Duck, Goat/Chevon, Lamb, Pork, Duck Eggs & Chicken Eggs Cheeses: Fresh and aged cow and goats milk cheeses.
Flowers & Plants:  Calla Lilys, Asiatic Lilies, Peonies,  Dutch Iris, Snapdragons, Larkspur, Batchelor's Buttons, Mixed Bouquets, Vegetable & Herb Seedlings, Landscaping Plants, House Plants
Specialty Items: Raw Honey, Pecans,  Flour, Cornmeal, Grits, Baked Goods including Pies, Breads, Cookies, Pastries, Gluten Free Items, etc; Pasta, Beer, Wine, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Preserves, Wool
Crafts: Pottery, Jewelry, Stained Glass Art, Handmade Baskets, Gourd Birdhouses, Woodwork, Photographs, Hand-dyed Clothing and other items, Handmade Clothing, Soaps, Yarn, Roving, and much more...

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