The Midwest is the highest honey-producing region in the country, according to the University of Minnesota Bee Lab. Thus, it’s not difficult to find locally-produced honey here in the Twin Cities. In fact, a quick search on the Minnesota Grown website lists 77 places in the state that produce and sell local honey.

Raw vs. Processed

Local honey is sold either raw or processed. Raw honey is typically defined as honey as it exists in the beehive – honey that has not been heated or filtered. Raw honey tends to crystallize more easily, and while some claim that raw honey is better for you, research by the National Honey Board has shown that commercial processing does not affect the nutrient content or antioxidant properties of honey. Processed honey, once it has been extracted from the honeycomb, is strained or filtered to remove pieces of wax, pollen grains, fine particles, and air bubbles. The straining  process results in a clear, transparent liquid that many customers prefer.

Buy Local

Whether you choose raw or processed honey, there’s a compelling reason to opt for local honey. By buying directly from the honey farmer or from a trusted distributor, you have the opportunity to ask questions about the source of the honey and the processing methods used. Generally, local producers know the importance of establishing trust with their customers. Because their business depends on it, they take their responsibility to their customers seriously.

A Natural Cough Suppressant

Honey is handy to have on hand during the winter months because it can help soothe sore throats. The National Honey Board suggests making an all natural cough suppressant by warming a half cup of honey with a few mint leaves for about four minutes (don’t allow the honey boil). Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lime juice. You can store the mixture in the fridge for about a week. For adults and children 12 years or older, one tablespoon every four hours is the recommended dose. For children between the ages of one and twelve years, give one teaspoon every few hours. (Remember, honey is not recommended for children under one year of age because it could be a source of botulinum spores,which infants’ immune systems cannot yet defend themselves against.)

A Welcome Gift

Honey is also a great gift. It never goes out of style – and it never spoils. If you’re looking to purchase honey for yourself or to share with others, you’ll be pleased with a variety of local products to choose from. Consider Bare Honey, a St. Paul-based apiary that’s been in business since 2010. In addition to standard jars of liquid honey for sale on their website ( and in area grocery stores, they offer a variety of flavor-infused honey products, creamed honey, honey sticks, and even a chocolate honey spread.

A Versatile Ingredient

Finally, honey is a wonderful addition to a variety of sweet and savory dishes. It can sweeten salad dressings and breads, bring out the natural flavor of roasted vegetables, and add a special touch to grilled or roasted meat. Though it’s possible to swap honey in for some, if not all, of the sugar in recipes, you’ll get more predictable results if you select recipes that have been specifically developed with honey as an ingredient. Now that it’s baking season, you may want to try out this honey cake recipe, which has been adapted slightly from Marcy Goldman’s recipe in A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. It’s warmly spiced and moist, with just the right density. Honey cake, as you may know, is traditionally served for the Jewish New Year, symbolizing the sweetness hoped for in the year to come. I’m not going to predict the future beyond saying that one piece of this cake will brighten the day of anyone with whom you share it.

Honey Cake

1¾ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup honey

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1½ teaspoons ground flax seed

1½ tablespoons water

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup brewed strong coffee or tea

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons apple cider
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Pour into greased 9-inch round cake pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently pressed. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.

By Anita Dualeh