It’s still a thrill for me to discover the gourmet side of food that I’ve never really given much thought, but have always had around the house and used on a regular basis. Honey falls into that category and until I recently got wind of craft-honey producer Mikolich Family Honey and their Good Food Award as one of the best makers of honey. They are part of America’s growing movement of talented and socially conscious food entrepreneurs. Yes, craft honey is here and we have a family in the area that is garnering big-time recognition. I had an opportunity to sample their honey and the award is well deserved, it’s very tasty. Besides that, there are more benefits to locally produced craft honey that I never knew about and I caught up with owner Alan Mikolich to learn more.
You started keeping bees in your backyard over 40 years ago. That’s not a typical hobby for a teenager, what were your early influences to make honey?
I caught a swarm in the yard when I was about 10 years old. We had a friend of the family who was a commercial beekeeper that I was inspired from and really got intrigued by the bees.
Did you study Entomology or Apiology at college or has this all been self-taught?
Everything has been self-taught. I just wanted to work with the bees.
When did you realize this was something you could make a living at?
I went to work full-time straight out of high school as a “beekeeper.” For the next for 12 years, I worked under different commercial beekeepers in San Diego County. I started to gradually expand my own hives. The man I was working with at the time offered me a partnership, but his offer wasn’t very substantial so I just decided to start my own honey business with the help of my wife.
You produce 100 percent raw honey. How is that different from other types of honey?
Our honey is extracted fresh from the hive without excessive heating, fine filtering or removing the pollen. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Most commercial honey companies flash heat and ultra-filter their honey, depleting these properties that are beneficial for you. They also and blend their honey from different batches of honey from all over the world to make a consistent product in flavor and color. We bottle each location separately, so you can see and taste the difference types of flowers the bees were pollinating with.
It’s known for natural healing properties, can you elaborate on that?
Raw honey is known for a multitude of healing properties. Most people like to eat local honey for its pollen, which aids with seasonal allergies. In addition to the pollen, honey contains a range of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids that the bees add to the nectar from their body. It is antibacterial; antifungal and helps to soothe sore throats and reduce inflammation. It is used to heal burn victims, treat wounds and stomach ulcers.
Your Coastal Wildflower Honey recently won a 2015 Good Food Award. Tell me about that honey and what makes it different?
This honey has an extremely unique flavor that stands out amongst other varietals. It was made from a variety of coastal wildflowers in addition to the surrounding eucalyptus and avocado trees. This unusual combination of floral sources created a deep, rich and robust flavor.
You harvest honey at several locations around San Diego County. Does location have anything to do with the quality or the taste of honey?
Our locations are crucial to making quality honey. We rely heavily on the rain and natural vegetation to keep our bees happy. These locations are the reason we harvest some of the rarest and most sought after honey in the market. San Diego has some very unique wildflowers like Black Button Sage and Wild Buckwheat, because of our Mediterranean climate. Locations like these are shrinking due to urbanization and commercial development.
What are your top five uses of honey?
I eat it on toast, for allergies, as a key ingredient for cooking and baking, to treat wounds and burns, and I like to take a spoonful before bed to help me sleep better and restore my glycogen stores.
Where can people find your honey in North County?
You can find our honey at Daily Harvest Market in Encinitas, and Knorr Candle Factory in Del Mar. Beaming, Sea & Smoke, Solace & the Moonlight Lounge and Latitude 33 Brewery also use our honey in a variety of drinks, dishes and craft beer!
Find out more about Mikolich Family Honey at mikolichhoney.com
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday – Friday during at 4:10 and 7:10 p.m. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at email@example.com or (858) 395-6905.