Honeycomb: Now What?

Honeycomb

When I was in New York City a few weeks ago, my flight landed in early afternoon on a Saturday. By the time the cab dropped me off on the sidewalk of my hotel it was mid-afternoon, and clean sheets and a plump pillow were a tempting proposition, but I resisted. The only anti-jetlag strategy that has ever worked for me is to fight sleepiness and stay active until the local clocks give me permission to pass out.

In this case I had quite a few hours to fill, as I had a late dinner date with a friend. So I kept myself busy, ate a bagel sandwich (is there a way to eat those things without having all of their innards spill out onto your lap?), tried to survive hypothermia long enough to decide which apples looked best at the Union Square greenmarket, met a friend for coffee (make that a double!), bought a pair of jeans, and spent the rest of the time browsing the aisles of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I used to adore the latter when I lived in California — I would have set up a tent and lived there if they’d let me — but it has somehow lost its dazzling effect on me. Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful store with plenty to inspire you, but its gigantism (not to mention the stuff you read in books) kills its charm for me.

Nevertheless, I did find the chocolate I’d been meaning to sample, and from the depths of the sweetener section, a box of honeycomb from Georgia.

“Entirely edible!” it said, “Smooth texture!” It could have said anything, really. I had never seen a honeycomb for sale anywhere — not that I’d been looking, and I didn’t even know the pretty French word for it until I looked it up: rayon de miel, similar to the expression for a ray of sunshine — and it was instantly evident to me that I needed to get one.

The hexagonal wax structure comes in a plastic tray filled with liquid honey (which leaked out and through the carton as soon as it had a chance, as such things will). It is a thing of beauty, fragile and sturdy at the same time, and one could spend hours wonderstruck at how the bees can instinctively build cells of such geometric perfection, but one has more pressing business to attend to: what does one do with a honeycomb?

The honey is mild but brightly flavored — it is a multiflower honey — and when I tasted a small spoonful of the wax structure, it shattered on my tongue in a most pleasing way. But then I chewed and chewed, and once the different layers of flavors had come and gone, I was left with an inert bit of wax, unsure of what the proper etiquette was — to spit or not to spit?

The box suggests eating the honeycomb on fresh bread, with apples slices, or with a salty, nutty, or sharp cheese. This sounds good, though I am wary of excessive sweetness with my cheese, but I want to ask you if you had any experience eating or using honeycomb, and what you would do if one was forced into your shopping basket by your incurable curiosity. All thoughts and suggestions welcome.

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  • http://nami-nami.blogspot.com/ Pille

    My grandfather had several beehouses (?) when we were young, and we adored eating the fresh honeycomb on a slice of white bread. We ate the whole lot, so no spitting:)
    I haven’t had fresh honeycomb since my grandpa passed away many years ago. But if I’d buy honeycomb today, I’d probably eat it the same way:)

    • Marylee Tharp

      I remember having this as a child, mother would fix it on toast with peanut butter – we all loved it and tasted so heavenly! Can’t remember if we “SPIT” or chewed it up~! Would love to be able to find it in a store somewhere.

  • http://www.rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com Rosa

    I also eat the whole thing whenever I have honeycomb…

  • Emma

    The first time I ate honeycomb, my friend told me to eat the entire thing, wax and all. It was just a little too strange for me, because the sensation was very similar to the wax that dentists put on braces when the wires stick out! These days when I buy honeycomb I chew the wax like gum :)

  • Alia

    A friend of mine once made honeycomb ice-cream and it was delicious. No idea of the recipe though!

  • Kate

    i have never eaten it myself and have always wanted to try some.Its looks so delicious and crunchy and sweet.
    I envy you now…as you’ve got me thinking about it all over again now.

  • lexi

    it sounds delicious, but i imagine chewing the wax is a bit like chewing a candle or something?? haha…perhaps think of it as gum though, chew a bit then spit after a while?? not too sure about this, never had honeycomb before!

  • http://www.yourrecipebook.co.uk Anna

    Hi there,
    My dad kept bees, and occasionally I used to help him empty the beehives of honey (well protected with bee-keepers hats and nets!). Fascinating to see the bees swarming over the racks of honeycomb. We just kept a limited amount as honeycomb (Mum sold some to a local deli) and the rest went through a machine (I remember what it looks like, but not the name) to extract liquid honey – the wax was treated as waste.

    Honeycomb on toast was popular in our house, or even a spoonful of honeycomb on its own as an afternoon treat for a child – the wax made the treat last longer!

    Anna

  • http://www.marcinha.co.uk Marcia

    I tend to scrap out the top dry layer of wax as it seems to be the tougher bit of it, in my opinion. Then I spread the rest on a slice of bread and it crumbles nicely. Mmmmm!

  • http://habeasbrulee.com/ Danielle

    I tend to spit out the wax, personally.

  • Miss Lisa

    I am a tad surprised that you’ve never seen it before … it’s fairly freely available in Australia, most health food shops carry it and a lot of supermarkets … interesting cultural differences! As to eating (it’s meant to be good for those with hayfever, incidentally!), just chew it up and swallow or spit out the wax, it’s never caused any of my family any problems eating it …. I love it on freshly toasted (very brown) multigrain bread – yummo! Or mixed in with crunchy peanut butter on toast … mmmmm

  • Estelle

    It remember me of the summer spent to my grandma’s house in South West of France where my uncle was taking care og beehives!!!

    Hummm to add my contribution to all the other useful comments. It all really depends of the honeycomb freshness (is it really a surprise when it comes to food ?). I suppose that as you bought yours in a supermarket the wax had enough time to dry and to become an un-appetising thing to eat. But it still makes a wonderful chewing gum and I remember the honey from honeycomb taste so much better to me than “normal honey”!

    I hope one day you’ll manage to put an hand on the fresh type and enjoy it whole!

    On another subject I was in NYC last week and used your posts to choose our eating place. Thank you so much, it was a lovely selection!

  • sweetbabyjames

    Honeycomb’s a childhood favorite. My brother and I would stickily, goopily transfer giant chunks into our mouths, slurp and chew all the honey, then spit out the wax. It’s a primitive, childlike experience. Enjoy Clotilde!

  • http://bakervillelibrary.blogspot.com Joan A.

    On buttered toast. The wax combines with the crunchy toast and goes down nicely. (As in several other comments, this was one of my grandfather’s habits.) Also, the top layer (if I remember correctly) is called the “cappings,” and my mother, casting about for something to deal with my brother’s allergies, read somewhere that chewing the cappings could help. This makes sense now, as I’ve read that using local honey helps you build up immunity to local pollen.

  • caroline

    The New York Times recently wrote about Whole Foods straying from its roots. I’d post the article here but it looks like they’re making us pay for it now (though I’m sure you could find it reposted elsewhere if you search around).

    I didn’t experience Whole Foods in its early days, but I suspect it got too big for its britches and has become too commercialized. Nowadays it’s crowded, overpriced, hyper-trendy, and more focused on projecting an image rather than a genuine promise of healthy, environmentally friendly foods. Half the store is littered with yoga mats, dish sets, aromatherapy oils, and other non-edibles, indicating that the chain is more interested in selling us a lifestyle than selling us groceries. It’s very much like the strategy Starbucks uses. It’s a shame that this tactic is so successful, because some of us would like to be able to go into a coffeeshop or grocery store and not be bombarded with products that belong in a bookstore or china shop instead.

  • http://www.ianandoana.com/blog/ Oana

    I chew the wax and spit it out – the texture’s a little weird to think about swallowing it! I only buy honey with honeycomb in it, it’s available at my local Greek food store as well as at the Lebanese one.

  • katsa

    my dad kept bees (it seems to be a trend amongst these posters!) and we used to eat the honey comb as is, no recipes required, fresh from the hives in summertime. My mom did insist that we ate it outside though, because she was not up for mopping up behind sticky children (and husbands). i have to say though that no matter how fresh the comb is, the majority of the wax is going to be inedible. we always would chew and chew until every last drop of gooey honey flavour was gone, and a fair amount of the softer wax too, and then spit out the gum-like leftovers.

  • http://www.monikakorngut.com/main.htm Monika Korngut

    Wow, I never had it before, these things are not available here in Canada in most places.

    I’m starting to feel like I’m missing out on things…
    Take care

    • Jenny

      I just bought a small jar of honey complete with a chunk of honeycomb inside. Bought in Canada. The product is called Phoenicia Wildflower Honey with Comb. Hoping it’s not pasteurized…
      Going to try and eat it whole. Could use the wax I suppose in candles. I am making some myself from old candles and I’m sure I could mix in the wax with no issues.

      • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

        Let us know how you like it! Regarding the pasteurisation, perhaps you can contact the producer and inquire?

  • http://tetellita.blogspot.com Estelle

    Like many others, I’d eat the whole thing, wax and all! It gets a litlle getting used to but it’s quite an enjoyable experience.

  • Rosann

    The wax is easy to swallow if you just let it go down with the honey and toast instead of chewing and chewing!

  • Sarah

    I have to say, I’m curious about your opinion of Trader Joe’s. It’s quite controversial among foodies!

  • Chloe

    When I hear about honeycombs, I am immediately brought back to a certain sunny afternoon when my parents bought me some during a roadtrip around Quebec’s countryside. I don’t know how many times I have had it, I just know that it left an amazing memory in my mind: a mix of sun and carefree happiness.
    I always remembered it as the best treat ever until my sister and I decided to finally buy one on a trip to the local farmer’s market a few years ago… we were so excited, then bit in it and although the honey tasted great, what I remembered most is that we had honey run all over our chins, fingers and clothes. We chewed, swallowed, chewed and finally looked at each other in a sceptical way. Somehow, something in our plan did not work out because it was so much better in our memory!!
    You make me want to give it a second chance though – and maybe this time I could eat it at home with a plate, not in the middle of a market, standing!

  • audrey

    Chlotilde,

    I found some in Paris at Israel and at la Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché.

    It’s lovely spread on bread and salted bordier butter. Sometimes, the simpler, the better.

  • Ivanna

    In defense of Whole Foods and Trader’s Joe’s (the first I loathe and the second I adore), experiencing them through their New York City shops isn’t entirely fair. The layouts aren’t well designed (probably due to exhorbitant leases) and the stock is more narrow and not as well maintained than their other stores. The CA stores are infinitely more pleasurable to shop. But with your lovely description of honeycomb, it sounds like you managed it well. Of course.

  • gingerpale

    I have some pure beeswax candles, bought years ago, and they still smell faintly of honey!

  • cocoaloco

    There’s nothing like fresh honey. Daddy kept bees when I was growing up and he’d harvest it every May. Because he was as forester, he roamed the woods all day long and would occasionally bring home honey from a wild bee nest.

  • Pam

    If you wish to try with cheese a triple cream with a hearty bread would be quite delightful-

  • gail

    I’ve been eating honeycomb for over 50 years, mostly because it is beautiful. I discard the wax because, after I’ve chewed it, it is not so lovely, either in texture or in taste.

  • Elle

    I think it would be great dipped in chocolate.

    Or sprinkled over a salad, maybe with strawberries and balsamic vinegar?

  • Jennifer

    I know this is going to seem silly but all I can think of when you mention eating honeycomb is that it’s bee barf.

    It does sound good spread on toast though – and my neighbour has a bee farm. Maybe he’ll let me try some at honey harvest time :)

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.typepad.com barbara

    Honeycomb is readily available in New Zealand. I like it spread on hot toast or drizzled into Greek yoghurt. I usually swallow the wax.

  • Andrea-Michelle

    I’m curious to know what you thought of the Dagoba chocolate?

    It’s actually part of Hershey…

    Here’s an interesting link to see “big organic” in the US mapped out.

    http://msu.edu/~howardp/

  • http://foodcookeat.blogspot.com Aude

    Hello Clotilde,
    It reminds me of Bill Granger’s recipe of ricotta hotcakes & honeycomb butter (http://www.bills.com.au/recipes/recipe2.htm). I made those pancakes once and they were quite good, but unfortunately hadn’t honeycomb in my pantry.
    It might be a good way to use it.

  • http://wiegottindeutschland.blogspot.com Véronique

    Not exactly an answer to your question, but nevertheless related: I have several family members who keep bees, and have helped occasionally to extract it. First the wax on both sides of the frame is removed, using a long spatula-like knife. The removed part is called brèche in French, and as it has some honey stuck on it, some people love to take bits of it to chew it, but usually spit it, especially since the wax/honey ratio is very in favour of wax. Since there is too much to chew, the bigger parts are put in deep dishes at the bottom of which the honey is collected.

  • Gail

    Like Pille, my grandfather also kept bees, and I remember being given the occasional piece of honeycomb as a girl…and being pretty puzzled by it. I think I ended up chewing and spitting.

    Thanks for bringing back such good memories (of my grandfather and the bees, not the spitting)!

  • Iris

    If you’re ever in the Philadelphia area, there’s a little story about an hour outside of Philly that’s also called Whole Foods, but it’s not related at all to the BIG Whole Foods. It’s a great store, and I bet you’d like it.
    http://www.kimbertonwholefoods.com/
    Check it out, if you’re ever in the area.

  • Mlle Smith

    I hope you enjoyed the farmer’s market at Union Square…I used to live four blocks from the farmer’s market and I’d stop by every weekend, just – before going to the movie theater – to pick-up unique cream cheeses (e.g. lobster cream cheese, j’adore!) and bits of fresh bread to nibble on discreetly while at the movie theater.

    Much better than popcorn. :0)

  • Jaymie

    Hi Chlotilde,

    I am quickly developing foodie-ism or perhaps, foodie-itis, thus stumbled upon your website a while back. I love it and can’t wait to explore your cookbook.
    To Monika Korngut from Canada…you must look harder! Honeycomb is available in many places in Canada. I am from Saskatchewan and my father has bees on his farm, with honeycomb in abundance. As well, I live on glorious Vancouver Island and their are many apiaries where one can buy fresh honey and honeycomb. I hope you find some soon to try!

  • tamara

    As kids when we would get fresh honeycomb from our neighbors we would freeze it and then roll it in tasty nibbles such as nuts or chocolate chips. That might be a bit sweet for grown up palates though.

  • http://thelovelyemily.blogspot.com Emily S.

    I’m so sad that Whole Foods bought Wild Oats (another American company), which was just announced. Big companies just get bigger, I suppose.

    Anyway – honeycomb is one of the most enjoyable summertime treats around, and I remember sucking pieces of it on my grandparents’ farm as a kid. I’d just discreetly spit into a napkin!

  • Danielle P

    I haven’t had the chance to try honey comb yet, and in general the smell of honey is somewhat off putting for me. I enjoy it in tea and in recipes, but not really as solitary food experience.

    I have, however, on many occasions eaten Dagoba chocolate, which is delicious though pricey. (Worth it, of course, for the good stuff!)

    I can imagine, though, that honeycomb, if it were indeed to your taste, would be delicious dipped in melted bitter dark chocolate… mmm.

  • Benni

    Hi Chloe! I must admit to some guilty pleasure, learning that we Americans surprised a French woman with food!

    In my family we usually have the honeycomb, wax and all, in the morning. We put some butter on bread, and then spread the honeycomb over that. Eat and swallow the wax with the bread… there’s nothing wrong with it!

    Of course, finding the good bread here will be a little bit trickier…

  • meredith

    this is my first blog posting ever — just was surprised out of this group of foodies that not a one of you has tried crunchies?! the famed irish candy? i virtually grew up on it in the hinterlands of the american midwest (illinois) — and i’m neither american or irish!!! it’s comprised of honey, ‘comb, caramel, and milk chocolate… pretty simple, and incredibly delicious. i’ve found it in many an airport/train stop — charles de gaulle, termini, various pac rim and caribbean airports, etc. i currently live in nyc, and as i gave up processed foods for lent, when the need strikes, i sometimes will make some dulce de leche, and combine it with some w. foods ‘comb… so simple, and so breathtaking…i highly urge you all to at least try crunchies…

  • http://www.superfood.blog-city.com Richard Leader

    On hot buttered toast, definitely. Toast gives you something firmer to spread against than bread, allowing you to spread the wax a little more thinly.

    Re one of the above posts – when I’ve had ‘honecomb’ ice cream before, it hasn’t been made with real honeycomb but with the confection (in the UK, we get it in the middle of a Crunchie bar – not sure if it’s available elsewhere but more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crunchie )

  • Mungo

    Crunchies (which are British as well as Irish!) don’t have real honeycomb in them! They have something that’s called honeycomb but is actually a type of toffee see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeycomb_toffee
    Still they are delicous just not as exciting as proper honeycomb (wax n’ all!) and I’m impressed they’ve made their way to the US. For Australians/New Zealanders I think a Violet Crumble may be approaching the same thing – I’ve no idea about France!

  • http://corgette maria

    my mother used the bee wax for a sore throat medicine. you crunch the wax, put it in the bottle, pour some high voltage alcohol on it, close it tightly, and let it soak for a couple of months. then when you have a sore throut you put a couple of drops on a teaspoon of sugar and swallow it. it really brings relief to the pain, ans since I tested it many times on myself I can assure you, it does not have any side effects.

  • http://bakervillelibrary.blogspot.com Joan A.

    Oh–and the heat from the toast melts the wax a little. I’m going to have to go buy some honeycomb now.

  • Isobel

    A big thing in my house is using honey or honeycomb for dessert. It’s really good with sliced pears and cheese, especially something strong like bleu cheese. We just put them on a plate together and have a little slice of each thing together.

  • Jennifer

    My grandfather raised bees and our family was always split about eating the comb. We kept the honey comb in a square glass dish that had a bit of a well in the bottom so the “non comb-eaters” could spoon some out. My grandfather would always cut off a bit of comb and mix it on his plate with some butter and smear it on bread. I did this too – maybe to be like him initially, but the flavor is awesome. It’s easier to actually eat the comb if you’re chewing it with other food. Go ahead and swallow, otherwise you’ll be chewing all morning! Love your blog!

  • http://www.ceresandbacchus.com Mary

    I had an uncle who kept bees and loved how wonderful fresh honey tastes. We used to eat the honeycomb and like Estelle, when it was fresh, we’d eat the wax, but if it had been kept around for while, we’d spit it out. I remember using the wax to make little shapes for my little sister (doves were a favorite).

    Have any of you ever heard the Ricky Nelson song, Honeycomb? It’s one of the strangest songs from the fifties.

  • starrygirl

    There are many who would say that regularly consuming honey along with the wax will keep one “regular” without fail.

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com Linda Mathieu

    I haven’t had honeycomb in years. I still remember that soft crunch with the thick honey then squirting out into my mouth. What a pleasure that was. I am going to keep my eyes open for it again. I used to eat it right from the jar or spread it on bread with peanut butter.

  • http://analisfirstamendment.blogspot.com/index.html Anali

    I’ve never tried a honeycomb before, but it sure is a pretty picture. I recently tried the Dagoba chocolate though. It was wonderful! I tried the lavender + blueberries and could actually smell the lavender!

  • Richard

    Trader Joes in Manhattan isn’t as good as Trader Joes in the NJ suburbs. They are often out of the best stuff and the prices are a lot higher.

    Trader Joes in the suburbs aren’t as good as the ones in California. The assortment is smaller and the best gourmet stuff is missing. They are stil better then Whole Foods. I loathe whole foods, they are everything that is wrong with the organic supermarket plus they seem to swallow up their competition. They recently bought the best food store, Wild Oats. When I live in CA they also bought out beloved Mrs. Gooch stores and then destroyed them.

    Did you know that Trader Joes is actually owned by the Albrecht German family that owns Aldi?

  • http://amuse-biatch.blogspot.com Charlus

    Chère Clotilde,

    I grew up on a farm in Latin America, and we would eat the fresh honeycomb with freshly made, hot corn tortillas straight off the griddle. Or we would eat it as you did, chewing greedily on hunks of honeycomb. But we saved the wax, because there was a use for it. There was no electricity and clothes had to be ironed with those old-fashioned metal fers à repasser (I think they”re called flatirons in English). In order to make sure the iron slid smoothly over the clothes, the women would buff and rub the underside of the hot iron with the beeswax wrapped in a scrap of cloth before each repassage. Thank you for bringing back a lovely memory, in the manner of madeleines and thé de tilleul.

  • Liza

    As a kid growing up in California in the 1950’s, honey available in markets was either the “honeybear” dispensor variety, or comb packed in a wooden box. My mom did not allow us kids to chew gum — “people who do look like cows with their cud, and it’s bad for your teeth!” As a treat, she would occasionally buy honeycomb, and we would take bits of it and chew it like honey gum. When the honey flavor was gone and the texture of the comb turned strange from our saliva, we spit it out and threw it away. We also used to sometimes find tar on beaches and we chewed that, too!

  • Joanna

    Yes – I, too, am interested to know what you thought of the Dagoba. I live in Oregon, where it is made, so we get our fill of it (this is not a complaint.) The Conacado (71%) and Xocolatl with Chilies/Nibs are pretty great. Even the ones that sound gross (Lime and macademia nut) are surprisingly pleasant.

  • sallyann

    Whenever I have a sinus infection or cold, I make thick pieces of toasted whole wheat bread and smear a bit of good (salted) butter on and then top it with a slice of honeycomb. It is supposed to be very good at combatting such infections and is a great comfort food in general.

    An alternative to the butter is a good quality salted peanut butter (unsweetened) – it cuts the sweetness of the honeycomb.

    I eat the whole thing, wax and all, but usually proportion the concoction in such a way that it is not an overwhelming quantity!

    (and I am also a sucker for either a Crunchie or a Violet Crumble, the Australian equivalent, although neither is anything like real honeycomb… like comparing apples and pinenuts… although they probably don’t go as well in a salad as apples and pinenuts do together…)

  • Randy Boodram

    Bah. Every Friday, my favourite apiculturist hits the green market on Union Square. He procures some of the best honey I’ve ever had — and I was raised on raw tropical nectar, mind you. His Wild Flower honey has the most distinctive creaminess to it. Ironically, it’s remarkably like a wild tropical fruit called balata (where I’m from). The Buckwheat honey they produce has a heavy herbal background, and is about as thick, dark and potent as molasses. I shit you not.

    It’s a pity you had to settle for the offering’s of Whole Foods — which I do love for their basics and beer selection. I’ve yet to visit Trader Joe’s, I thought they only carry shlocky generics and what not?

  • http://www.newenglandgrown.com pyewacket

    I like it on scones, with cream. But if you want to make something extra snazzy, make cupcakes using some orange zest, frost them with a not-too sweet cream cheese frosting, and cut the honeycomb into small pieces, then place a piece on top of each cupcake, letting the honey drizzle down a little. Lovely.

  • Chris

    Cloutilde
    I am from Georgia and have eaten honeycombs on many occasions. One way that my grandmother prepared it was to smother the already decadent comb with chocolate and cut it into pieces. Her chocolate coating was very much like a ganache. She would also break it into small pieces and add to ice cream as it was being churned. If you make your own ice cream, it’s especially good if you combine the honeycomb with spices like those found in chai tea. If all else fails, it makes a cup of tea sweet and beautiful!
    Christy

  • http://maitresse.typepad.com maitresse

    to deviate from honeycomb (a subject upon which I have little to day) to address your bagel problem: the reason they don’t work as sandwiches is because they aren’t designed to BE sandwiches! Just the bagel on the bottom and whatever you’re having on the bagel on top.

    Which really should not be anything other than lox or cream cheese, but then I’m a purist.

  • Charity

    I grew up eating more honeycomb than honey. Buttermilk biscuits are really the way to go. A very good butter, a generous chunk of honey with comb. The chewiness probably takes a little getting used to, but I never notice and the flavor is incredible.

  • poppy

    Honey/honeycomb never played a part in my Japanese/Filipino upbringing but bagels did (go figure). And as for a bagel sandwich eating tip–the best thing to do is to split it open and eat one half of the bagel with the sandwich filling–as maitresse already commented, bagels weren’t meant to be made into sandwiches!

  • http://www.cforcooking.com Jeff

    Never had fresh honaycomb but I will one day :)

  • http://www.nayberg.org zhenya

    I use to get it at markets in Russia and Ukraine. As a kid, I was told to chew the honecomb, suck out the honey in the process and spit out the wax. The wax does give honey specific aroma that I like a lot. Honeycomb is believed to have some amazining medicinal properties, but, for the love of God, I can’t remember what they are!

  • Janet

    I have mixed feelings about Whole Foods, but their CEO got my attention when he cut his salary to $1 per year (no bonus or options). How often do you see the antithesis of corporate greed?

    The story is here.

  • http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/viamichelin/gbr/tpl/mag5/art20070315/htm/tour-gastro-blogs-culinaires-europeens.htm Georges

    Hi Clotilde,
    just a word to tell you that I mention your blog in my story about the best food blogs (http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/viamichelin/gbr/tpl/mag5/art20070315/htm/tour-gastro-blogs-culinaires-europeens.htm).
    Best regards

  • Rosalind

    What a great way to bring back warm childhood experiences ! We had our honeycomb srpead over warm buttered crumpets. The honey would dribble into all the holes and make it delicious and gooey. Chewing the leftover wax was a substitute for forbidden gum.
    Really enjoy your blog Clotilde,
    Merci

  • Hallie

    Hello Clotilde,

    I enjoy real honeycomb on hot toast. The heat softens up the wax and makes it easier to eat.

    As for the crunchie/violet crumble honeycomb, it really is great in ice cream. The best I have had is at the Providores on Marylebone High Street in London. The restaurant’s owners are from New Zealand…perhaps a nod to a childhood love of Violet Crumbles! Just off the same street at 2-4 Moxon Street, W1, you can buy the real honeycomb at La Fromagerie.

  • Katy

    No personal experience, but on reading your entry on honeycomb I had a little look around and found someone who had used it as a lovely and interesting garnish – it was on some kind of fruit and cake dessert with honey dripped all around, and the beautiful wedge of honeycomb was a perfect garnish. My imagination is now off and running, visualizing it with chocolate, creams, herbs …. it could be put to beautiful use.

  • Amber

    In South Africa honey comb is available in some shops. It’s just wonderful on bread or alone. It is one of my best childhood memories. I think spitting is leaves a much better thought then it scratching in your throat.

  • Poulette

    I shopped at the original Whole Foods in Austin… and I’ll take Whole Foods (Austin) and Central Market (and especially Central Market!) over any French supermarket any day (I live in Paris). There isn’t a grocery store in any of the countries I’ve ever visited that could hold a candle to Central Market: where else can you get 300 varieties of cheese, 30 varieties of mustard, scads of unusual loaves of freshly baked bread, produce from local producers, and the most unusual products from all over the world, along with friendly and amazingly knowledgeable staff? All this under one roof. Farmers markets are lovely, but not terribly practical for working parents: better to make a day of it and head to the countryside to pick your own at a “chapeau de paille” farm! My favorite one is out near Versailles…

    How silly to get upset with a store like Whole Foods because it’s become successful; like band groupies who insist the band was better when it only played in coffeehouses… before they “sold out” to the Man and made money. Having lived in DC for four years, it was the only supermarket within my metroing distance where half the food wasn’t rotten.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    I have to say I am amazed by how many of you have memories about honeycomb, and how many of you had fathers and grandfathers who kept bees! Many thanks for the stories and usage tips.

    Sarah – From a consumer’s perspective I like Trader Joe’s, they have a good selection and low prices. What controversy were you referring to?

    Audrey – Thanks for the tip on where to find honeycomb in Paris! Do you know where theirs is from?

    Andrea-Michelle and Joanna – I’ve enjoyed the Dagoba bars I’ve tried, particularly the one with chocolate nibs and chili.

    Poulette – I don’t think anyone here resents Whole Foods for making money, just for getting so big that they’re killing the competition, and in no industry is this a healthy situation.

  • http://www.sergetheconcierge.com Serge Lescouarnec

    Clotilde

    Catching up on my reading after returning from ‘South by Southwest’

    Regarding ‘honeycombs’ some chefs served it as an accompaniment on a Cheese plate.

    To me it classifies as an oddity along with Chocolate Goat Cheese.

    For ‘Whole Foods’, I do like the new and bigger store they opened (besides my smaller Montclair store) in nearby West Orange.

    Bonne journee

    Serge
    ‘The French Guy from New Jersey’
    Blog:
    http://www.sergetheconcierge.com

  • Katy

    I’d hoped the (U.S.) National Honey Board would let go of some wonderful secret use for the comb when I wrote to them, but this is what they have to say: “An excellent pairing for honeycomb is cheese. The cheese complements the honey flavor and the texture masks the waxy texture of the comb. Honeycomb is perfectly safe to eat and some cultures prefer honey that way.”

    Regards,
    Charlotte Jordan
    Project Manager
    National Honey Board
    http://www.honey.com

  • Susan

    Honeycomb landed in my basket at the request of my 6 year old son, who is fascinated by bees. His advice on how to eat honeycomb? Get a spoon and dip in! Continue until Mom says you’ve had enough. Then have one (or two) more bites.

  • Jim

    What to do with honey?

    Take a slice of stale baguette or a cracker and spread a little decent blue cheese on it. Maytag if you’re in the midwest, Bleu d’Avergne works nice in France. Then top the cheese with a small amount of honey and eat the whole thing. It matters not if you use honey with the comb or just plain honey.

  • nbm

    From the Song of Songs:

    I come to my garden, my sister, my bride; I gather my myrrh with my spice; I eat my honeycomb with my honey; I drink my wine with my milk.

  • BB

    My grandfather did not keep bees and our honey usually came in a plastic bear.

    Anyhow, who cares about honey when there are hot bagels around? I advocate 2 methods:

    1. the offset method: slide the top of the bagel “sandwich” forwards or back depending on which half the filling is sticking to. take a big bite and contemplate your next move while chewing thoroughly. repeat. this works best with lox, salmon, pastrami, eggs, etc..

    2. the paper method: if they don’t always do so, ask your bagelmonger to slice through the tight paper wrapping of your “sandwich.” squeeze the wrapper to expose as much bagel as you can handle. fearlessly take bites with the knowledge that the paper will help control any filling that squishes out. great for eating with one hand – bicycling, straphanging, food shopping, driving… works best with massive cream cheese spreads, whitefish, chicken or egg salad – or liver mush. when the bagel is all gone, squeeze the wrapper to get the last bits like you’d squeeze the last of an italian ice (served in a pleated paper cup). don’t worry about eating paper – a little bit won’t kill ya.

  • honeyfan

    love to eat the whole honeycomb on a sea salt variety bagel chip. yum. also really yummy coupled with marcona almonds and/or havarti cheese. one of those treats that i just can’t stop eating until the honeycomb is physically taken away!

  • Tjaart Potgieter

    As a child, like so many others, I remember eating the honeycomb on toast, with the crunchy bread helping to swallow down the fragrant wax.
    My father told us that, as a child, he had been very fond of honeycomb with “bread”, the bread being, in this case, white beef larvae entombed in the honey cells, expressing his regret that wild honeycombs were no longer to be found anywhere.

  • http://www.uni-koblenz.de/~langeth/blog Don Criollo

    Hi Clotilde,
    I’m a little curious, what choco do you choose??? ;)
    I don’t know any chocoa from Dagoba, yet. :(

    Xocóatl is for celebration,
    Don Criollo

  • http://play-with-food.blogspot.com Deborah Dowd

    I remember as a child the treat it was to break off a chunk of a honeycomb and chew it until nothing was left but wax… that is a real tast of summer to me, and the simplicity!(I guess that would be a strange dessert at a dinner party though!)

  • lori

    Ahh, the “spit or swallow” debate finds its way into a conversation about honeycombs. :)

    American honeybees are disappearing so we’d better feast while we can.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070223-bees.html

  • http://www.aslie.blogspot.com Asli

    Hi Clotilde

    I don’t know if I’ve posted here before, but I really like your blog…
    I’m from Turkey, (living in NYC now) and this post does bring back memories for me as well… Honey comb is big in Turkey, and considered very healthy, but I think the top part is scraped for best practice, and then you eat the whole thing… We usually pair it with frsh bread, butter, and feta cheese… This is very traditional breakfast and now is all I can think of!!
    Thanks for this post, hope you enjoyed New York – spring is the best time…

  • http://www.thefabledneedle.blogspot.com Jennifer

    At Uchi, in Austin, Texas, honeycomb is served on top of seared fois gras and buttery garlic toast. One of the oddest and most wonderful things I’ve ever eaten.

  • http://msn sherre

    I so enjoyed reading your lovely description and ventures with honey comb, as well as the comments. I agree with your take on Whole Foods, we have a few smaller organic markets trying to survive in Colorado, it can be difficult pairing up with the mega store Whole Foods. Love the photo of the honey comb.

  • Wendy

    On a recommendation from a The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg, I paired a small square of honeycomb with an Italian blue-veined cheese on a crostini. That and bubbles…date night food.

  • Hannah

    As a child growing up in Georgia I was given honeycomb as a treat in the late spring and peeled sugar cane later on as it became available at farmer’s markets. This was some time ago, but that tradition has been passed down in my family for much longer. At any rate, it never crossed our minds to swallow the wax — or the remains of the sugar cane for that matter. Of course, we were usually sent to the backyard to enjoy the sweets, so spitting into a napkin wasn’t such a public affair. My opinion: honeycomb enjoyed outside tastes best.

  • Kaelin

    One of my grandparent’s neighbors kept bees, so he would frequently bring over big Mason jars of honey with the comb inside. We would eat it, comb and all, and probably the best way to do it is to take small bites. That way you don’t have to chew a lot and the texture doesn’t feel strange.

  • Hanne

    Re Aude’s comment above – Bill Granger’s Honeycomb Butter is NOT made with honeycomb from a beehive, but the sweet made out of sugar, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar (perversely there’s no honey in the recipe!). It’s the same stuff that’s in Violet Crumbles or Crunchie bars (in Australia.) I would be wary of using waxy honeycomb on my hotcakes!!!
    BTW, I agree with Aude that Bill Granger’s recipe is delicious – my twist on it is to make the honeycomb butter using a Crunchie or Violet Crumble bar (rather than the plain honeycomb the recipe calls for) – that way you get melting butter-honeycomb-chocolate mixture dripping into your hotcakes (and it’s easier than finding plain, non-chocolate covered honeycomb)! Perfect with bananas. Yum.

    Hanne

    Hanne

  • http://notesontea.blogspot.com/ Georgia

    My father-in-law used to keep bees. When I asked my husband about eating honeycombs, he said,

    We ate the honeycombs a few times. We chewed and then spit out the wax. (He did not like the wax.) Most of the time, they placed the honeycombs into an extractor (“spinner”) to extract the honey.

  • David

    I’m amazed that you hadn’t come across honeycomb before. Many if not most beekeepers can supply it though getting a marketable standard product is less reliable than ordinary honey.
    How to eat it? on toast, waffles, steamed syrup pudding ……. almost anything!
    My local supermarket (SuperU) used to do an icecream containing chunks of honeycomb – to die for. Unfortunately it is so popular that demand outstrips supply. Thinks – I might just try to make that!
    David

  • http://www.dionysius.com/ Chris Borokowski

    Fresh bread, warm if possible, and honeycomb make an excellent snack. For that Texas flavor, gently fry jalapenos sans seeds in butter, and add on top of the honey. It sounds horrible but it’s quite yummy.

  • http://www.thelightexquisite.com talia

    I wanted to get some honeycomb from our farmer’s market a month or so ago, but was disapointed to find that it’s not in season until the fall. when i was a kid i bought some for the novelty of it and quite enjoyed chewing on the wax, but never really felt like swallowing it. this just reminds me to keep note of when fall comes around :)

  • sam

    just baught some after watching survivor man on discovery channel looked good tried raw was delisous but even better on a bagel

  • Katie

    Clotilde do you read all of these messages? I was just browsing through an old “delicious” magazine (Australian, April 2003), and there is a recipe by Jill Dupleix which is Chocolate Bread. It doesn’t sound all that good, but it is served topped with honeycomb marscapone, which looks magnificent! It is 250g of beautiful fresh marscapone gently combined with 75g honeycomb, crushed. I think this would be delicious atop your pain d’epice. Yum!

  • http://www.dina.dina dina

    yum i just had honeycomb dipped in milk chocolate it was tasty

  • Kelly

    I bought some cut comb honey locally and eating it regularly has helped a TON with my allergies. I decided to try some of the comb, and upon chewing it my teeth started to feel really strangely sensitive, almost painful. Has anyone experienced anything like that?

  • Ceci

    How surprising that so few people these days have tried comb honey- but the memories and ideas are really wonderful, thank you so much for this Clotilde!
    We are on a small farm in the California Delta, we practice natural beekeeping with several hives and produce comb honey. We are not sure which we love more- the honey & comb or the bees! Theirs is a marvelous society and we feel very fortunate to have become keepers of them.

  • Bob B

    It is great to read all these comments. My wife and I started to keep bees this year, and one of the first things I did was to get equipment to produce comb honey. For beekeepers, this is actually less trouble than extracting liquid honey. Everyone I give it to seems to be puzzled by it, but enjoys it tremendously.

    I spit if I eat directly.
    On toast, just let the wax melt.

    Cheers.
    PS
    please don’t write to get some, we only have one hive, and our production is seriously small.

  • http://www.garthandmaud.com Maud

    On Thanksgiving Day here in the United States I cook a turkey. It has become a tradition for several years now to pierce the skin of the turkey with a fork, rub with butter when I first put it in the oven, and baste with the buttery juices from the roasting pan while it cooks. Then one-half hour to an hour before roasting is done I rub the entire turkey with honeycomb. Don’t forget to baste the melted honeycomb juices all over the turkey before you take it out of the oven and put it on the platter. It has a spectacular glossiness and color with beauty that you cannot get any other way. It has an extremely thin crispy skin totally edible without any waxiness at all. The honey flavor is delicate and everyone is very thankful. Yum, yum, YUM!!! I’ve tried it with chicken and it’s good, but the flavor and texture seems especially suited to turkey. So at this Thanksgiving time of year I hope some of you try this with honeycomb and enjoy it as much as my family and I do. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! *note: I have also had good results by rubbing the honeycomb on the turkey as soon as the turkey has cooked for only an hour and basted more often for the remaining roasting time. The honey flavor penetrates deeper into the meat then. I personally prefer the first method for it’s delicate flavor.

  • Lorraine Goodrich

    I reccommend honeycomb with blue cheese! Its to die for!

    I had this once at a really nice tea room in SF. Before I’d never even had honeycomb. I kid you not it was the most amazing thing. Honeycomb is easy to spread on a cracker. So is blue cheese. So spread both. Definitely a cracker as opposed to bread. You can eat an apple or melon with it too. Drink it with some light bitter tea for contrast.

  • Skip_G

    I just ate some honey comb, in hopes that my allergies would be positively affected. I chewed up the comb, and some of it I swallowed, while it was covered in honey. That’s the way to do it, if you want to ingest it without getting creeped-out by the waxiness. If you keep chewing the comb, eventually it is entirely free of honey, and is rather like chewing unflavored wax. I went ahead and swallowed it, anyway. Heck the FDA will not allow any claim about positive health benefits, without complete testing as a drug, which takes millions of dollars, and years of study, etc. Keep in mind, this same FDA allows toys with lead paint to come into the country. They also cannot trace down the source of salmonella outbreak after salmonella outbreak, etc. So I’m going off of thousands of years of folk medicine. Honey comb is good for allergies, and also good to chew while working out in the summer heat- it’ll keep ya cool.

  • Merle

    I was in Savannah last week & stopped at the honey store you note in your article. I bought some of the honeycomb. They advised to eat it all. I put it on toast which melts the comb and sometimes with cheese. I love it. I will order more when I run out.
    I was so suprised to run across this store and how all the honeys really do have a differant taste than the ones you get in the grocery store. I understand the stuff in the store is not as pure.

  • http://www.shannonweiley.com Shan

    I discretely spit the wax, unless I swallow it with the honey flavour in it, but once it is just wax I find it hard to swallow.

    I looked into medicinal qualities for my BLOG

    One quality is said to be if chewed for 30mins it can alleviate allergy symptoms. Sounds like a good thing to experiment with?

    Shan xoxo

  • Julice

    I had honeycomb extract as a child and had missed the taste. So, I had to buy a large chunk of honeycomb to sample as an adult. I ate it straight as well as boil it to make tea. The wax stuck to the side of the pot of water after the water cooled down. I couldn’t get the wax off from the pot for the life of me. I had to reboil the water to get it off. So, I can imagine what the wax would do to our internal pipes (i.e. intestines). I don’t think our body temperature is higher than boiling water. However, the Chinese does claim that honeycomb has great health benefits…most likely due to relieving certain allergies.

  • Kim

    Save it and give it to your favorite beekeeper who will melt it into candles. You’re welcome to adopt me as your favorite beekeeper. :-) When you bottle liquid honey, the top cap of the cell is cut off and then the honey is spun out of the cells; beekeepers save that wax and either sell it or make something useful with it (after rendering it and cleaning it). Why waste it by throwing it out?

  • Tamsen

    I’d be VERY careful about the source of the honeycomb. Given the amount of pesticides and antibiotics that even most hobbyist beekeepers intentionally put in their hives, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. All that gets concentrated in the honeycomb.

    Also, beware of anything labeled as “organic honey” or “organic honeycomb” – there is no such thing.

  • Teresa

    When I was a child I used to eat the comb right out of the jar. My mom always bought honey with the comb. I loved it, wished I could find it now.ol

  • Beth

    “Beeing” the wife of a beekeeper has its delights. Special honeys may be reserved for the beekeeper’s table. An example would be blackberry honey. It is not made of the nectar of the blackberry flower, but from the juice of the fruit. The bees pierce the blackberries and collect the juice which they make into honey. This rare delicacy is purple and tastes of blackberries~delicious! This year, we only were able to harvest a very small amount and truly enjoyed this delightful treat.

    Honey is but a small part of the experience of bees. The sounds of the bees’ feverish activity, the fragrance of the hives as honey is made, and the perfection of the bees’ efforts are such a joy.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That blackberry honey sounds so special, Beth, how fortunate you are! And thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  • http://cakeinthehouse.tumblr.com Lisa

    I love your blog! I’ve been on a honey/bee-pollen kick. When I was little I ate everything…chewy comb and all. When I read of your first taste of honeycomb, I realized that I had read something similar before. I think you have someone “echoing” you…or it’s a grand coincidence. Check it out at: http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/honeycomb.html

  • Jack

    Spread from the comb onto Scottish oatcakes, and enjoy

  • Janey

    I have never heard of anything quite like that either. I would have a hard time eating the raw honey because I wouldn’t want to disturb the honeycomb. I will admit that I won’t eat honey unless it came straight from the bee with nothing added.

  • Pamela

    My daughter has just requested I make honeycomb cheesecake for her birthday. Apparently she had this at a restaurant while travelling. IFrom her description it sounds like a NY style cheeesecake with small pieces of honeycomb in it, but I don’t know how you would cook the cheesecake without melting the wax of the honeycomb. I thought I would be able to find a recipe on the internet, but so far no luck. Any suggestions?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Honeycomb is a popular type of candy in the UK — it’s a sort of caramelized meringue that’s like the inside of Maltesers. My hunch is that the honeycomb your daughter had in her cheesecake was the candy kind, not the bee-produced kind. You can make your own honeycomb candy — there are lots of recipes online. Good luck!

  • Konrad Jenkins

    Awesome article! Leave it to New York to have all of the intriguing foods! I’ll have to check this out next time I have a chance! http://www.southtownhealthfoods.com

    Konrad

  • scarymary

    i have put it in smoothies before as a sweetener. the wax just blends into a million pieces and you dont even notice it.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Good tip, thank you!

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