We laid off sugar a few years back and have been very happy about the switch to honey. Local honey in Puerto Vallarta can be purchased on the streets and we often buy from the same grumpy old man who caters to those walking up and down Basilio Badillo. When we run out of our favorite sweetener and can’t find The Honey Man, we purchase local honey, available at the produce markets.
To the surprise of many, honey is a huge export for Mexico. Crops from hives produce somewhere around 55,000 tons a year and Mexico is sixth in line of honey producing nations, shipping out at least half of their yield each year. The national consumption of honey is on the rise and we aren’t sure if this is due to sweets becoming more popular of a simple desire for the taste of honey. However we can report that foods that were once processed with abundant amounts of sugar, such as dry cereal, pastries, yoghurt, for example, are now made with honey. With nearly 50,000 registered beekeepers throughout Mexico, mostly in the southeast, there is an impressive production of both conventional and organic honey.
Bees, of course, do much more than make honey, a fact we often ignore or forget. The pollination of plants is a major industry and in a delicate ecological system, we depend on bees for our survival. The introduction of African bees, which were coaxed up from Brazil, was regarded as a major quandary in the ‘80’s. The Africanized bees were referred to as killer bees and considered too aggressive and it was thought they might destroy the native, honey producing melliponine bee. In the past few decades, the melliponine bee, which was doomed to extinction, has been reduced in population but there is evidence of both bees producing at even higher than expected rates.
Honey is used in Mexican kitchens for both sweet and savory dishes and in Puerto Vallarta, you will find several varieties. Avocado honey is the darkest in color and has a smooth, almost buttery flavor. Honey made from citrus blossoms is lighter in color and
taste. Mesquite honey is very light and often has hints of lavender, sage and thyme. There are dozens of flavors.
Mayans worshiped bees and considered beekeeping a sacred occupation. The melliponine was native to the Yucatan tropics, a stingless, honey producing bee, and was considered a link to the spirit world, gifted to the Maya by Ah Muzen Cab, the bee god. With over five hundred species, this was a busy bee world and so important to the Mayans, they devoted an entire book to them. The Madrid Codex, one of the four surviving Mayan books, is all about the bees and the business of making honey.
Que es cómo es.