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I've heard Jeffrey Steingarten, on Iron Chef America, mention that he finds honey quite bitter. I've never noticed that myself. Maybe if I really try I can notice a slight bitter finish, but for me the sweetness and floral aroma dominates. Is honey actually bitter in some quantifiable sense? Are some particular varieties of honey better known for this characteristic?

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Most American Honey is made from clover. I personally do not detect much bitterness, but I have noticed that honey produced locally has more of a body to it than stuff I buy in little plastic bears in the grocery store. Almost a subtle tanginess. –  Preston Fitzgerald Jun 9 at 5:51
    
But no, I think calling honey "quite bitter" is overkill. –  Preston Fitzgerald Jun 9 at 6:24

5 Answers 5

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It depends on what the bees had for lunch :) . Acacia honey is extremely sweet, with no bitter aftertaste. Chestnut honey (easy to find in Italy, don't know about elsewhere) is dark and has a strong bitter note. I personally love how the bittersweet goes with butter and bread, but some people hate it. Generic polyflower honey usually does not have a bitter note.

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Very well put. As a general rule, early season honey tends to be lighter and sweeter, and as the year progresses the honey tends to get darker, more complex, and bolder. Think of the difference between table sugar and dark brown sugar. If you aren't used to it, the late season honey certainly could taste bitter. –  Matthew Jun 9 at 15:28

I also notice it myself, and it varies depending on the flowers and region. I read that there is a bitter honey from Sardinia, Miele Amaro.

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I find honey's bitterness is in the aftertaste. I also find it--except in very cheap grades of honey--extremely pleasant. And useful when building flavour profiles in a dish.

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Honey from chestnut flowers is very bitter.

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Honey is stored in honeycomb which contains wax like components. The taste of honey depends on how effectively these wax components are removed from honey

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Honeycomb doesn't just contain waxlike components, it's made of wax. Are you saying beeswax is bitter? It seems pretty tasteless to me. I guess it's possible that propolis is bitter? –  Jefromi Jun 10 at 1:15

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