Corsican honey is the only Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée product ever to have the left planet – it went to the Mir space station! But that is not why it is an interesting product. Honey on Corsica is produced by a unique species of bees, the family of which was providing honey to Romans some 2,000 year ago. There are 6 famous AOC honeys in Corsica and they derive their striking flavours from the more than 2,000 flower varieties of the maquis of Corsica, which provide a huge variety of pollens for over 17,000 hives.
Honey is Corsica is divided into types based on the season and where the bees have foraged.
Spring Maquis honey is amber in colour and has hints of caramel and liquorice, while the early spring honey has a clearer colour with citrus, lavender and wild heather flavours. Summer Maquis honey is clearer and more aromatic, with a floral, fruity tone from extracted from the higher mountain plants. The Autumn Maquis Honey is honey which largely comes from the flowers of the Arbouse tree and the strawberry tree, which has no connection to strawberries of any kind. This honey is slightly bitter and more creamy, and almost has a sarsaparilla flavour to it. Chestnut Grove Honey (Maquis de Châtaigneraie AOC) is honey harvested from bees who inhabit the chestnut forests and is much used in Corsican cuisine. It has a slightly bitter aftertaste alongside hints of both chestnut and clematis. Miellat du Maquis AOC is honeydew honey from the scrublands and the honey harvested here comes from bees which have sourced the pollen from the aphids on pine, fir and oak trees.
There are many bee-keeping estates in Corsica, such a U Campu Tondu near Sartene and Bastelica, which holds a honey fair in November.
So next time you have some honey – take a little time to see where it came from and what makes it the honey the flavour that it is…..