Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Two Cowboys: Fresh, Pure, Liquid Gold from the Alberta Prairies Courtesy of Forever Bee in Okotoks, Alberta

Purest of Honey


In 2010 I embarked on the crazy journey to perfect classic Italian Honey Nougat. It is an ancient celebratory confection with only four ingredients - honey, egg white, cane sugar, and nuts. Nougat is a major industry in the old world of Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, and Morocco where it was typically served to royalty and as present at weddings, christenings, Christmas and birthdays.

It is also one of the most difficult confections to make. The soft, white, melt-in-your mount textured candy has broken many a chef's resolve. Only a few people in the world know the secrets of perfect white soft honey nougat and most of them only impart it to close family members on their death bed, who is tasked with perpetuating the legacy.

It took me three years and five tons of failures to finally unlock the secret of honey nougat perfection. None of which I am prepared to divulge in this post. What I did discover during my struggle is that most of the honey that we buy in stores are either not honey or of such low quality that it may as well be regular cane sugar syrup. For a start, it contains abnormal amounts of water, and it is pasteurized. As we know pasteurization kills all pathogens - the good ones with the bad. The bottom line discovery was that store bought honey cannot be used for making Honey Nougat.


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During my journey, I met Matt and Annanie. They own of Forever Bee. It is a small apiary they started in February of 2012 while on their own search for a better quality honey.

Forever Bee began as a tiny business that managed to sell a few jars of honey here and there at farmers' markets. They've been bootstrapping the business since and have managed to build up a strong fresh honey supply to many loyal customers in Southern Alberta. Their products include raw honey, flavored honey (they do a fantastic cinnamon honey), honeycomb, beeswax, candles and more.

Observations


We spend a lot of time around farmers' markets in Southern Alberta, and inevitably we run into the Forever Bee clan again and again with their fresh honeycomb and jars of pure, unpasteurized honey.

The honey is terrific for all the good reasons they mention in the video above.

What stands out for us about Matt and Annanie's business is not so much the honey they produce, which is fantastic. It is the success they have starting from nothing five years ago and building a simple, successful business with a very loyal customer base. The business is in its fifth year, and it is allowing them to have their entire family involved in growing it. It is only with passion and an outstanding product that they can continue to succeed.

Being at farmers' markets is hard work. It may appear idyllic or romantic to the casual bystander. There is a lot of time and dedication that goes into producing products the whole week and then still doing markets at the same time. For many, it is a seven day week affair. Often these small producer businesses cannot sustain themselves with only one market, so they are typically serving several markets per week. The season is also short, so every market day counts.

We find Forever Bee at these markets in the Foothills. What stands out is their dedication to a fantastic quality product. What sets them apart from other honey vendors is their willingness and commitment to educate about the virtues of fresh honey and the love and care they put into making their honey taste as good as it possibly can.

The honey from Forever Bee is the perfect honey for my classic soft Honey Nougat.

Hendrik van Wyk
Sweet Cowboy

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Photos


Lethbridge Market

Okotoks Market

Canmore Market

Honey Gold

Happy Beez

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