Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Ontario Buckwheat Honey is a rich dark malty honey produced by bees from the nectar of buckwheat flowers, a small white flower not in the wheat family, but rather related to rhubarb. Buckwheat honey is rich in antioxidants, has been shown to soothe cough, and to rival Manuka honey for its antibacterial activity.
Buckwheat is typically planted as a cover crop to add nitrogen to soil, often by organic farmers seeking an alternative to nitrogen fertilizer. Beekeepers and farmers often work together at this time. The farmers benefit from bees pollinating the buckwheat, thereby increasing the yield of the harvestable seeds. The beekeepers benefit from the production of buckwheat honey. A blooming buckwheat field is a beautiful sight - the flowers give off a sweet scent and the fields are abuzz with pollinators.
The bees bring the buckwheat nectar back to the hive, where they pack it together in the honeycomb frames. It is very dark compared to wildflower honey, so we are able to separate the buckwheat honey frames from the frames of wildflower honey. To give you an idea of the difference, here is a frame we extracted that was one-side wildflower, one-side buckwheat:
The Guinness of honeys, Buckwheat honey tastes less sweet than wildflower honey, with an earthy malty aroma and rich toasted toffee, molasses flavour. Its colour can range from medium brown to almost black, with a reddish tinge.
Buckwheat honey is high in antioxidants and honey mixed with water has been shown
to increase antioxidant effects in healthy adults. This antioxidant effect is greater than that of Manuka honey. Buckwheat honey has the same antibacterial effects against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus as Manuka honey and has also been shown to be particular effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Try it next time you have a sore throat or cough.
Its rich bold flavour also makes it an excellent pairing with Stilton cheese, as a substitute for maple syrup over crepes, or as an addition to an autumn hot toddy.