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"Mexican honey" refers to any type of honey produced in Mexico. The use of honey in Mexico dates back to the time of the Mayans, and honey remains popular in the country through the present day. There are several types of honey produced in Mexico, and each has its own particular taste and color, but the most common types include avocado honey and orange blossom honey. Regardless of the specific type, Mexican honey is a versatile treat that can be used in a variety of both sweet and savory recipes.
Ancient Mayan beekeepers of the Yucatan peninsula first harvested honey from the stingless melliponine bee, Apidae melliponinae. They believed that all 500 species of this stingless bee provided them with a link to the spirit world, making the tasks of beekeeping and collecting honey especially important. The honey was collected from hives built in logs and trees, and the Mayans then used this honey as an antibiotic and a sweetener. Fermented honey could be used to make balché, an alcoholic drink similar to mead.
Modern day Mexican honey does not typically come from the stingless melliponine bee, as a large portion of the stingless population died with the introduction of killer Africanized bees. These killer bees, a hybrid of European and African bees, spread to Mexico after they were introduced to Brazil. Africanized bees are much more aggressive than stingless bees, but they also produce honey at a faster pace. Much of the honey produced in Mexico now comes from Africanized bees.
Bees make Mexican honey from a variety of blossoms, and as a result, the honey does not have one specific color or taste. Depending on the nectar used to make the honey, the color can range from clear to dark, and the amount of sweetness varies. Avocado honey, collected from avocado blossoms, has a dark color and a deep, buttery taste. Orange blossom honey can come from a combination of different citrus blossoms, but it almost always has a light color and mild taste with citrus overtones.
Other types of Mexican honey vary in popularity based on the availability of nectar. Mesquite blossom honey comes from the blossom of the Mesquite tree and has an off-white color, soft texture, and light taste. Mount Mixteca honey is created from nectar produced by a number of different mountainside plants, producing a mild taste with hints of thyme, sage, and lavender. Autumn flower honey, made from the pollen of multiple autumn flowers, has a thick texture and a floral taste. Golden reserve, which is gathered from the harvested supply of autumn flower honey, has an airy, buttery texture.
Most types of Mexican honey can be purchased in several forms. Jars of honey are the most commonly purchased and exported honey product. Stands selling honey in Mexican cities are also likely to sell candy made with honey and nuts flavored with it. Honey straws are another popular product. These sticks are made of solid honey blended with fruit, chili, or other flavors, and can be enjoyed on their own or added to hot drinks.
Mexican honey also makes a healthy, tasty sweetener for many different recipes. Honey mixed with fruit and yogurt can be frozen and turned into a healthy alternative to ice cream. Sopaipillas, which are puffy, fried pastries found in traditional Mexican cuisine, are frequently topped with honey. Mexican honey also adds a touch of sweetness and authenticity to savory marinades based on Mexican flavors. These marinades typically work well with chicken and pork dishes.