Reikomelo has been all the rage lately. Its distinctive taste, which is quite different from the more familiar thyme or flower honey, is gaining an increasing number of converts. The main reason for its newfound fame is that you can now find it for sale relatively easily.
Not so long ago, it was an unknown commodity to many people, but it is gradually winning over consumers, sparking a surge in interest of small producers.
Greek reikomelo has picked up international quality awards in competitions run by the iTQi (International Taste and Quality Institute) in Brussels, Great Taste Awards in London and BiolMiel in Italy for organic honey.
It is produced in several areas, all of which claim that theirs is the best quality: Ios, Kimolos and Andros, Halkidiki and the Peloponnese (the reikomelo produced on mounts Athos and Taygetos is renowned).
Information on the quantities produced does not exist. The producers to whom we spoke told us that production levels were small this year because of low rainfall.
Depending on the type of heather that the bees search for, reikomelo is produced in autumn or spring. Each variety has different characteristics.
The autumnal reikomelo has an almost bronze color, an intense aroma with hints of caramel, earthy and wooden, and a slightly bitter taste. It comes from erica manipuliflora, a heather with purple flowers that blooms in the fall and is made from the last pollen the bees collect before winter.
Spring reikomelo, with its sweetish taste, has a reddish, amber color, with an intense aroma and fruity notes. These characteristics are due to the pollen of erica arborea, a woody heather that can grow up to three meters tall. Its white flowers bloom in spring.
Whether from the autumn or spring, the reikomelo crystallizes in two or three months. Crystallization is a natural process and does not mean that honey has spoiled. To restore it to its original form, heat it gently in a bain-marie.
Like all honeys, it is considered beneficial to health. It has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, as well as high phenols.
It has been used as a remedy for some diseases since antiquity.
*Originally published in Gastronomos magazine
5 HONEYS WE CHOSE
Ergon Heather Honey • Fall • Produced on Mt Taygetus by Haris Fotopoulos and standardized by Ergon. (Ergon shops)
Melitimon • Fall • Produced in Dervenakia, Corinthia, by the Nikolopoulos family • It has been presented with a Great Taste Award.
Fasilis Organic Heather Honey • Fall • Produced in Laconia by Panagiotis Fasilis, it has been awarded twice in the Italian BiolMiel competition for organic honey
Meligyris Woodland Honey with Heath • Spring • Produced in Rethymno by beekeeper Manolis Stefanakis • Heather and pine honeys are blended to produce it.