Honeydew, also called forest honey, is made all over Italy. It does not come from flower nectar but rather honeydew, a sweet substance made by certain insects such as rhynchotans, psyllids and aphids which suck and process lymph for food. Like ants, bees gather this substance and make a very unusual honey from it which is very sticky, richer in mineral salts and more sugary than nectar honey. The greatest quantities of honeydew are generated after attacks by Metcalfa pruinosa, a sucking insect which feeds off various plant species.
The fig and dried fruit aromas of honeydew pair well with the complex aromas of Grana Padano PDO Riserva aged over 20 months; The flavour of malt component evenly tempers the savouriness and persistence of the mature cheese.
- Colour: from dark to very dark when liquid, brown when crystallised. Very rarely crystallises and in liquid form it is typically very sticky.
- Fragrance: medium intensity, leaves and tomato purée, dried figs, Medjoul dates, dried walnuts and carob.
- Aromas and flavours: medium intensity with cooked wine, malt and calvados nuances, mildly sweet, malt-like and sometimes slightly salty."
We always recommend serving an assortment of honeys, perhaps two very different ones, so leaving diners to decide for themselves. Honeys should not be put onto cheese prior to serving both because this does not leave the choice to diners but also because the high osmotic pressure of honey tends to lead to it absorbing the cheese's salty liquids in the space of just a few minutes. Try the two on their own first before testing the various pairings.
The honeys should be served in small containers, and a teaspoon for serving it. Liquid and creamy honeys can be used as they are. Compact crystallised honeys can be stirred before transferring the honey from the jar to the serving container to make them easier to serve, scraping off the required quantity.
Curious factsIt is fairly easy to source at large scale retailers.
Honeydew honeys made from the gathering of honeydew on specific trees can be found on the market. These include citrus honeydew, oak honeydew, spruce honeydew.
The malty sweetness characteristic of this honey makes it ideal for use in baking. It is popular with those who don’t like overly sweet honeys but prefer to avoid bitter flavours.