Israel is known in the Bible and in Jewish tradition as a “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey”, which refers to goat milk and date honey. It meant that the land was full of nutrients and that the Jewish people would not go hungry living in Israel – a fact still true today!
Honey has appeared multiple times in ancient texts, and not only date honey but bee honey as well. One example is found in Samson’s story: Samson managed to kill a vicious lion with his bare hands and later, he found bees swarming around the lion with honeycombs around the body. This riddled Samson, and the answer he got was that from even the strongest of things, can come the sweetest of things.
And during Rosh Hashanah, we compare the honeybee to God’s judgment for the New Year, while consuming honey to represent a wish for a sweet year.
Today, Israeli honey comes in all sorts of flavors and origins and deserves a special place in your home for any time of the year.
Read on to learn about the different parts of Israel that honey comes from, as well as the various types and flavors!
Israeli Honey from North to South
Up in the green mountains of the Galilee, stretching from Lake Kinneret to Lebanon, is one of Israel’s most fruitful lands. The fertile landscape, lovely climate, and pure and simple lifestyle of the Galilee reflect in amazing foods produced there, including natural honey. The Galilee's abundance of flowers and fruit orchards result in heavenly honey that must be tasted!
The vast hills around Jerusalem provide the perfect place for hives and honeycombs. Just like the city of Jerusalem, its honey has a light golden tint to it, similar to how the sun reflects off the stone walls of the Old City. The nectar from the distinct wildflowers in Israel’s center create a pure and light honey beloved by everyone.
About one hundred years ago, people thought the Negev desert was just arid land where it would be impossible to grow anything. Little did they know that the people of Israel could make the desert bloom with different kinds of plants and wildflowers. Bee farmers come to the region to collect dark honey with rich, complex flavors thanks to the multiple types of plants that honeybees love. By purchasing honey from the Negev, you are not only getting a sweet treat for yourself, but you are also supporting the famers who lost so much due to rockets from Gaza.
For a classic sweet and pure taste, wildflower honey is just what you need. Wildflowers can be found almost anywhere in Israel and their honey has many amazing benefits. Besides for making life just a bit sweeter, this delicious food helps digestion, gives you an energy boost, and aids your immune system with its antioxidant properties. And if you don’t mind getting your skin a little sticky, honey is said to reduce wrinkles and heal cuts as well!
Eucalyptus trees were first planted in Israel to help drain the swamps before building up the country, and are now helping sustain the bee population as well. The taste of eucalyptus honey is a bit more tart than wildflower honey, but still enjoyed by many.
Israel has been growing avocado for years, and it can be used to create a thick, molasses-type honey. Israeli avocados have a unique taste and look depending on where they're grown, which also means that no two avocado honeys taste the same.
Silan – Date Honey
Dates have been growing in the Land of Israel for thousands of years, and were already found there when the Jews first made it back to Israel in Biblical times. Silan as it is called in Hebrew, is a delicious honey replacement that’s completely vegan and richer in taste, and is great in baking or cooking, or with your apples on Rosh Hashanah. Date honey, just like regular honey, has antibacterial compounds to help fight off different infections, but date honey is actually found to be even more effective!
Honey with Added Flavors
Many Israeli honey makers also offer flavor additions to their already sweet and scrumptious honey, to really enrich the flavor and satisfy your taste buds in a unique way.