Some of my earliest memories involve honey, it is something I truly loved as a child. I remember my father used to buy big orange tubs of set honey. He would spread it thickly on buttered toast and have it with his coffee in the mornings, so of course, I’d do just the same. When the tubs were empty they would be washed and used to store screws and nails in. He still has these same useful tubs, after 30 years.
So since I was young I’ve always been fascinated by honey bees and what they do, and how they do it, they are amazing little things. In fact, I can’t think of anything else that makes our food in such a pure way. For every kilo of honey produced the worker bees have to visit millions of flowers in search of pollen and nectar. The way the flora affects the look and taste of the honey means that every hive is producing something slightly unique each and every time. It can never be the same.
These days I use honey in my cooking as much as possible. I love the delicate flavour it brings to so many different things. I’ll use it liberally in dressings and marinades, I’ll use it to add sweetness to soda breads and flaky, nutty pastries, I’ll use it with slow roast pork and mustardy chicken as well as spooned over buttery parsnips or celeriac. But one of my favourite ways to eat it is trickled over fresh goat’s cheese on toast and finished with plenty of delicate thyme leaves.
I’m particularly fond of honey ice cream, which I make occasionally as a treat at home. It gives a frozen custard the most wonderful silky texture.
This month I will be celebrating lovely honey with my wholemeal cake recipe, it has to be one of my favourites. It’s such a treat served warm with cream, but equally good cold, with a cup of tea.
Learn how to 'Gather' your own honey with a flying visit to River Cottage Cookery School, on our popular Beekeeping course.
Gill's debut book 'Gather' is out now.