Friday, November 2, 2018


My family loves to sweeten up meals, deserts and snacks with honey.  We are fortunate that there are a number of great beekeepers in our area that frequent local farmers markets around us during the summer. In addition to tasting great, this type of raw, unfiltered honey offers many health benefits including being rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and pollen. Tasting good and being good for you makes honey a great way to sweeten your food for holiday gatherings.

One problem … the farmers markets I normally pick up fresh honey from local beekeepers close up for the winter during the holiday season.  Fortunately, I discovered Local Hive™ from Rice's Honey® , a leading bottler and distributor of high quality, U.S. only sourced raw & unfiltered honey since 1924. They bottle in Greeley, Colorado honey sourced from bee hives from across the country packaged in regional varieties ranging from Southern California to the Great Lakes.  They do this because honey tastes different based upon where it originates from. You can get honey from 16 different regions of the country from them.

I'd never thought about that before but since bees gather pollen from different sources around the country that would impact the taste and flavor of the honey they produce. Rice's Honey® Local Hive™ varieties include Colorado, Florida, New England, Southern California, Texas and the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes honey is sourced from local bee hives similar to the ones that are at our nearby farmers market so that is the taste my family is familiar with.  So how are the other honeys different? Here are a few examples:

Colorado Honey comes from Clover, Alfalfa, and Wildflowers.  It is considered the sweetest of all the honeys originating within the United States.

New England Honey is based upon bees gathering pollen from Basswood, Berries, Clover, and Goldenrod. This provides the honey with a bold and robust flavor. Honeys from the northeast are much darker than anywhere else.

Southern California Honey's floral sources include Alfalfa, Berries, Citrus, Clover, and Sage. This honey has a fruity sweetness to it. You’ll notice a hint of orange in its taste.

Florida Honey has bees gathering pollen from Citrus, Brazilian Pepper, Clover, Gallberry, and Tupelo. The honey has a fruity flavoring with a hint of spice to it.

Texas Honey has traces of Alfalfa, Clover, Cotton, Horsemint, Tallow within it. This honey is sweet but not as sweet as Colorado's.

Honey gathered from the states surrounding the Great Lakes has influences of Aster, Basswood, Clover and Goldenrod which provides for a silky texture and a middle of the road sweetness.

Rice's Honey® works with local beekeepers from these various areas to distribute their unique regional flavors to consumers throughout the United States.  While you may not be able to get to a Colorado or New England farmers market to pick up some honey straight from a beekeeper thanks to Local Hive™ from Rice's Honey® you can enjoy the different regional tastes of honey where you live.  Visit to order online or find a retailer carrying Rice's Honey® near you.

Bee populations have been in a troubling decline in recent years.  In addition, to creating honey these insects are also play a crucial role in pollinating crops that are an important part of our food supply. Your purchase from Rice's Honey® Local Hive™ brand also supports PACE, “Pollinator Awareness Through Conservation and Education”, a non-profit global initiative to restore habitats, strengthen populations and reintroduce pollinators into native habitats around the world. A portion of proceeds from every bottle sold of Rice’s Honey® will be donated to the PACE initiative to promote and protect the prosperity of bees worldwide. Rice’s Honey® is also working to promote sustainable bee farms across the country through this initiative.

I love to eat sugar cookies during the holiday seasons. I always eat a ton of them at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. The folks over at Rice's Honey® provided with a great way to sweeten the holidays →  this recipe for Local Hive™ Honey Vanilla Sugar Cookies. Follow these directions to make a batch of 24 cookies:

Honey Sugar Cookie Ingredients

½ cup Local Hive™ Honey 
2 sticks butter, softened
 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla 
3/4 cup sugar 
3 vanilla beans (1 for frosting) 
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk 
3 cups flour 
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons baking powder 

Beat the sugar and butter on high until fluffy, between 7 - 8 ½ minutes. Scrape beans from 2 vanilla bean pods and set aside. Beat together honey, egg, egg yolk, vanilla beans and extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. Then add in the rest of the beaten ingredients and mix well. You should have a dough-consistency.

Sprinkle a cutting board or other clean area with powdered sugar. (No flour) Roll out dough and but into your holiday shapes. Bake on parchment paper after putting in the freezer for about 6 minutes, so they get more solid.

Bake at 350º for 9-11 minutes and cool on wire rack.

Honey Vanilla Frosting Ingredients

 1/4 cup honey 
1/2 cup half and half
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 vanilla bean 
4 cups powdered sugar 
1 lb. cold butter 

Scrape the beans from the vanilla bean pod and set aside. Beat the honey, vanilla plus vanilla beans and then beat in half of the powdered sugar. Beat in the half and half. Combine this with the powdered sugar and beat until well.

After cutting the cold butter into small pieces, be sure to add it a little bit at a time, mixing on high speed with a whisk attachment or by hand. Beat on high speed for 9 minutes, or until it looks fluffy.

Decorate your honey cookies with the frosting and add sprinkles or other edible decorations.

Enjoy! These cookies sure are a sweet treat for the holidays!

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