A mono-floral varietal, fireweed honey is famed as the “Champagne of Honeys”. This rare honey has a delicate sweet taste but is more known worldwide for its medicinal qualities.
It is a no-brainer that this honey is from the Fireweed plants. They emerge from places ravaged by environmental catastrophes. They have the ability to be most often the first plant to emerge.
The Fireweed Plants
The fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium) is a perennial herbaceous plant in the willowherb family. The name fireweed was due to its characteristic of being often the first plant to survive a forest fire.
The seeds lie dormant in the soil for some time until the land is barren. Then, such seeds germinate and grow from 3 to 9 feet tall.
These plants thrive in cool climates of the Northern Hemisphere. Primarily native in the Pacific Northwest, they flourish in the United States all the way from Washington state. They also thrive in British Columbia and the Yukon in Canada.
Interestingly, after the 1980 Mount Saint Helens volcanic eruption, fireweed was the first plant to grow in the affected lands. In fact, after World War II, they grew in numbers in lands hit by fire and bomb craters.
The fireweed plant has long clusters of inflorescence blossoms.
Its flowers vary from a bright pink to a deep purple hue in color. Some people tend to cultivate fireweed as an ornamental plant due to its aesthetic beauty.
In Alaska, fireweeds are the most abundant wildflowers. It reaches its peak blooming by late July and early August.
Do bees like fireweed?
The scent emanating from its blossoms attracts the honey bees, beckoning them to forage fireweed nectar.
Not only is it a high-value food source for the bees but the shoots are also safe for human consumption and its leaves can be eaten or used to make tea.
Fireweed has been considered a medicinal plant. It is not surprising then that fireweed honey abounds with medicinal benefits as well.
Health Benefits of Fireweed Honey
With almost the same carbohydrate and calorie content as most types of honey, fireweed honey is best enjoyed in moderation.
It is enriched with macro and micro-elements and B vitamins. It is believed to be packed with ascorbic acid, which is three times greater than that of a citrus fruit.
Its antioxidant levels are good for fighting free radical activity and inhibiting the development of diseases.
Numerous naturopaths use raw fireweed honey to combat various ailments, including respiratory tract infections, immune system issues, and stomach ulcers, and acidity.
This honey is an effective wound treatment because of its antiseptic and bactericidal effect.
It selectively impacts pathogenic organisms, enhances blood flow to the wound, and manages lymph flow. All these lead to a rapid clearing of the pus.
It has a powerful moisturizing effect on your skin. Its anti-inflammatory agent helps with overcoming acne, boils, and other dermal problems.
Taking it before bedtime will relax you, which alleviates insomnia. With this abundance of health benefits, it is no wonder that many seek a taste of this honey.
Uses of Fireweed Honey
One of the finest honeys in the world, the light flavor of fireweed honey pairs well with almost anything. Suitable for baking, glazing, barbecuing, or smoking on the grill, there is really no big deal.
It is perfect for use in honey recipes. Its flavor dwells well in barbeque sauces and meat glazes. It is a great substitute for sugar to sweeten tea or coffee, and a wonderful table honey for other purposes.
With its smooth texture, this honey varietal is easy to drizzle on pancakes or cheese or spread on toast or biscuits.
Qualities of Fireweed Honey
Fireweed honeys are extremely pure and light amber in color, lighter than wildflower honeys.
Fireweed honey entices your senses with its clean and pleasant aroma.
Its fine, crystalline texture plus its appearance is probably the reason why many beekeepers compare it to champagne.
Being a prized variety, you wonder, “What does fireweed honey taste like?”
It indulges you with its smooth, sweet, and fruity flavor. Its delightful buttery finish would surely entice you to grab more.
Due to its relatively low sucrose content, fireweed honey takes a while to crystallize. When it eventually does, its color becomes even lighter. It can turn extremely white, resembling cream or lard, and may form clots like grains or snowflakes.
No need to worry though, because it has a long shelf life. Like other honey types, when it crystallizes, just gently heat the jar in a warm water bath for 30-60 minutes.
Best Fireweed Honey
The question now is, “Where can I buy fireweed honey?”
There are few products on the market for this honey. Check out your local beekeepers in case they have something on hand. Or, they might suggest references and other information on where you can scour this rare honey.
If not, you may want to get a taste of this Raw Alaskan Fireweed Honey Sticks made of 100% natural and unfiltered fireweed honey from Alaska.
Sadly, pure fireweed honey is also extremely difficult to find due to its limited honey harvest. Hence, its price often reflects the reality for this scarce and coveted honey.
Its blossoms appear simultaneously with other types of wildflowers. Hence, bees end up pollinating all the sources of nectar they can find.
When few producers do manage to maintain areas dense with fireweeds and are able to bottle and sell pure honey made from fireweed nectar, it is usually at premium prices.
Another challenge is that fireweeds become crowded out and overwhelmed by other trees and shrubs. Therefore, it is entirely possible that during the succeeding years, the number of fireweeds will decrease.
The short blooming season of fireweed blossoms, unpredictability of the fireweed crop, and lack of consistent supply of pure fireweed honey are some of the many complications beekeepers face when trying to produce it, inevitably driving up its price.
Due to the scarcity and expensiveness of true fireweed honey, some people would create a substitute. They boil the blossoms in a mixture of sugar and water.
Also, some unscrupulous sellers infuse another varietal of honey with the extracted taste of boiled fireweed blossoms. These are cheaper honey alternatives with an increased water content but a lower quantity of minerals. But, it is nowhere near the same in terms of quality and benefits of the real fireweed honey.
Buyers should make it a point to double-check what they are purchasing.
Fireweed honey of North America and northern Europe is not the same one sold in Australia nor native to southern Africa. Therefore, as a safety precaution, please check the label and product information carefully.
Some people veer away from fireweed honey because of its specific appearance, a slightly yellowish or greenish mass that resembles cream by density. During the crystallization, this honey gets an even lighter shade, which confuses people. They often think that they see artificial honey and choose an appealing but useless fake.
Truth be told, there are no benefits to such honey. It can cause toxicity or severe allergic reactions because you can never determine for sure what composes “false honey”.
Promise of Delightful Rebirth
Full of promises and rebirth, fireweed is a tall perennial herb that is one of the first plants to grow and cover the scarred land.
It is an actual proof that something beautiful can come out from tragedies.
Best consumed as raw honey, Fireweed honey is definitely a great varietal. Do not miss out on the opportunity to try fireweed now while you still can!