Raw Clover Honey

From The Honey Traveler:

"Clover is a prolific source of honey, growing in temperate climates around the world. Clover belongs to the genus Trifolium. Of the 250 species, the most important for honey production are White or Dutch Clover, Alsike Clover, Red Clover and Crimson Clover. It is a popular fodder crop and as a member of the legume family, naturally adds nitrogen to the soil. Most single flower clover honey is produced from agricultural crops although clover also grows wild and finds its way into many honeys. True monofloral Clover honey is somewhat rare as it is often mixed with other honeys and called Clover honey in the retail trade.

Other plants often included in the “clover” family are Alfalfa, Sweet Clover, and Sainfoin Clover but these are from a different genera and should not be included within the broad term of “Clover”. Nevertheless, they all belong to the same leguminous pea family, Fabaceae, that include many excellent honey plants. Another honey plant not to be included in the clover family is Mexican Clover (Richardia scabra L.), also known as Florida Pusley, actually a member of the Rubiaceae family.

Clover honey characteristics are so well known they have become standards of taste and aroma for describing honey. For instance, a honey may be described as having a strong Clover nectar aroma or a light Clover nectar flavor. Clover honey is light colored tending toward light amber depending upon where it is harvested. Its aroma is delicate, sweet and flowery with hints of freshly cut grass or hay; suggestive of spicy cinnamon and plums. Its taste is clean, mild and very sweet that lingers in the mouth. It crystallizes quickly into a fine-grained solid white mass. For this reason it is often creamed.

Although clover cultivation started in Europe in the 16th century, clover honey was already well known. It is mentioned in Kilian’s 1599 Dutch dictionary as klauern honigh ‘clover honey’ where it is defined as “mel optimum & candidissimum, ex trifolio pratensi” (‘good, very clear honey from purple clover’)The word clover is likely derived from old German klaiwaz which refers to the stickiness of the sap of clover or the honey produced by it. This led to Klaifre and then to Old English clafre or modern English clover1

White clover, Trifolium repens, was introduced into the United States and Canada by early European settlers where its honey producing properties were prized. In the Canadian Farm journal of 1863, J. H. Thomas offers the following advice on winning first prize for honey, “…to be first-class, (honey) should possess the following characteristics; light color, thickness, and pleasant flavor… I can safely say there are only two kinds of honey gathered in Canada which possess all the above qualities. One is gathered from clover, and the other from the abominable nuisance, the Canada Thistle… the proportions are about one part of clover honey to two parts of thistle honey. This, when properly prepared will eclipse all other honey…”


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