Thursday, September 20, 2022

Honey Varieties - Arizona and Southwest

Honey has been used as both food and medicine since antiquity.  It has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and is associated with a long list of health benefits.  Honey is also one of Arizona's treasures and best kept secrets. The Sonoran Desert, with its distinct and abundant flora, is a mecca for honey bees. Plants native to the Sonoran Desert, such as the mesquite shrub or the prickly pear cactus, provide the nectar source for uniquely delectable honey varieties.  Honey, USDA Photograph
Credit:  Scott Bauer, USDA ARS
Copyright:  Wikimedia Commons

Orange Blossom

Sweet and juicy Arizona navel orange blossoms are the leading source of this extra-light amber colored honey that has the distinctive flavor and aroma of oranges. It is said that Arizona orange blossom honey is particularly fragrant and smooth.


The venerable mesquite tree and shrub has long been valued for its nurturing and medicinal properties. Honey made from its blossoms is thick and superbly sweet, with a hint of smokiness. It is usually medium to dark amber in color.

Catsclaw (Cats Claw, Cat Claw)

Catsclaw is considered an herb with medicinal value and an important honey plant in the southwest. Its blossoms produce a mild but richly flavored and very heavy honey that is usually a light amber color.

Desert Wild Flower

The mesquite and catsclaw shrub blossoms are the source for this sharply sweet flavored and lively honey which is light to medium amber in color.

Prickly Pear Cactus

The prickly pear cactus is rich in nutrients. Prickly pear honey is usually made by combining the juice or fruit pulp of the cactus with mesquite or another honey varietal. The result is a light and mild honey with a hint of citrus flavor. Honey made exclusively from the prickly pear cactus fruit bud is a rare treat.

Camelthorn (Camel Thorn)

The camelthorn bush grows at higher elevations. It is a thorny, noxious weed and honey from its blossoms is seasonal. It is flavorful, medium to dark amber in color and much thicker than most honeys.

Locally produced Arizona honeys can be found at farmers' markets, in specialty and gourmet food stores or purchased online.

How Sweet It Is - First Annual Arizona Honey Festival

More Information:
National Honey Board:  Honey Varietals

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