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Bring a new taste of honey to the Rosh Hashanah table

By Robin Watson
Special to The Detroit News

Every Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Jason Miller wishes family and friends “a sweet and sticky New Year.”

Then he makes the wish come true by giving them a gift of wildflower honey from Croswell, Michigan-based Windmill Farm.

“Honey is important at Rosh Hashanah because of its sweetness — and the same is true of apples,” says Miller, whose kosher-certification agency, Kosher Michigan, gives Windmill Farms honey its blessing. “You want to have a sweet new year. And, in the time of the Torah, honey was what people used as a sweet substance.”

This sweet, spicy and richly colored dip brings sweetness to veggie platters -- and it's good with apple slices, too.

Rosh Hashanah, which starts Friday evening,  falls during National Honey Month this year, so it’s a great time to add new choices to your celebration. Here’s how a good bee game can up your A game.

Local honey. Purchasing local honey supports area beekeepers, bees and crops. And it brings a taste of regional terroir to the table. “We make good honey in this state because we have so many different plants growing here,” says Megan Milbrath of Munith-based the Sand Hill Apiary. “Honey from each location has a different flavor because each location’s soil is different.”

Seasonal honey. The flavor of honey varies from season to season and also within a season. Susan Schaeffer of Traverse City-based Ona Mission Honey Farm notes that the fall wildflower harvest, which pairs well with Honeycrisp apples, is darker and has a bolder flavor than the early-season harvest.

Honey flights. Serve a progression of colors and flavors from light/mild to dark/intense. “There’s honey that’s water-white and honey that looks like molasses,” Milbrath notes.

Perfect pairings. “We recommend balancing the flavors,” advises Beatrice Thaman, specialty foods manager for Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor. Thaman and Schaeffer, with input from Tadem Ciders of Suttons Bay, suggest the following combos.

·         Savory, herbal honey with sweet apples (e.g., rosemary honey and Gala apples)

·         Sweet honey and tart apples (e.g., wildflower honey and Pink Lady apples)

·         Delicately flavored honey and moderately aromatic, tart apples (e.g., star thistle or acacia honey with Northern Spy, Macintosh, Macoun or Mutsu apples).

·         Floral, woodsy honey with sweet-sour apples (e.g., lavender honey with wine-scented Winesaps).

·         Almost any honey with good all-’rounder apples (e.g., Jonagold and Ginger Gold).

·         Honey with big depth of flavor (e.g., buckwheat and chestnut) with challah.

[Suttons Bay-based Tandem Ciders contributed information for this story.]

  Honey-Curry Vegetable Dip

1 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar

Assorted vegetables cut into crudites (celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)

Combine mayonnaise, honey, curry and vinegar. Mix well. Refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with crudites.

Recipe provided courtesy of the National Honey Board (www.honey.com).