Like Pooh Bear, I have searched for the perfect honey pot …

Liz at Lancaster‘s natural honey

Pooh Bear had his honey pot,  but Liz’s search for the perfect honey has been far more complicated.

Small tubes are the ideal containers for honey in the rooms and on Liz at Lancaster‘s breakfast tables

Several years ago at a farm stall whose location, let alone its name, I have long since forgotten, I found some special honey. What really caught my eye – apart from the fact that it was Blue-gum flavoured – was the dinky tubular container it was presented in: like a perspex test tube with a red plastic lid.

It’s convenient to hold, you can dispense the honey with ease, and it gets round the problem of those awful half empty squeezed plastic bottles of honey which compete fiercely with crusty tomato sauce bottles for the prize in Supreme Tackiness.

But of course at the guesthouse we got to the stage where we were short of the honey containers for the breakfast tables. So now .. the hunt began, as I had NO idea where to source these mysterious containers.

Googling ‘test-tubes’ and the generosity of spirit of SAffers

All my research skills came to the fore, beginning with Googling ‘test tube suppliers’. Starting out with suppliers of lab equipment as far afield as the Cape, I initially gave my long, garbled and utterly confusing story about being a guest house owner, serving honey in tubes and looking to try and replace these unidentifiable tubes. I soon realized that this was way too much irrelevant info.

During each phone call I got to learn more of the technical lingo and so gradually refined my enquiry to the company ‘product information specialist’ :

‘Do you supply clear uncalibrated 150 ml centrifugal test tubes, (short and to the point ?), ideally with a screw top lid’

… it was this latter specific that confounded each ‘product information specialist’

.. along with my reply to his/her question of

How many thousand would you be ordering?

which was, of course, along the lines of

‘Well, I really only need about 10.’

Everybody I spoke to was amazingly helpful with each person passing me on to somebody else and seeming to take on my weird project as his or her own personal challenge. SAffers are amazing – I love them!

Not a test tube but a pre-form Coke bottle

Finally I got to somebody in Joburg who asked me to send her a picture. She phoned back the next morning to say:

‘Guess what? This is a Coke bottle before it has been expanded to its full size’.

I mean how amazing is that? And sure enough many more phone calls later, Eddie in the Coke bottling factory said

‘Yep that’s a pre-form and you can have some with pleasure’.

Now I was soo close … except it transpired that Eddie could not supply the screw tops as they were all branded. So the final hurdle was getting the unbranded caps from the supplier at Nampak .. again very generously set aside for me to collect.

My hunt for the perfect honey container was complete at last.

Honey container found but now the hunt for the perfect honey

But the saga does not end here … I have always wondered what ‘natural honey’ is .. Is there any other kind?? This seeming contradiction has always niggled in the back of my mind (yes, I lead a sad life I know when these are the mysteries of life for me.)

And then, seemingly unrelated to all this, conversation over the dinner table a few nights back, led, amongst a whole lot of other equally interesting topics, to a discussion on food irradiation. The consumer I learnt, can identify those products which have been treated by irradiation by looking for the word ‘radurized’ on the food label – a completely new word for me. Buying honey in the supermarket a few days later, I of course examined the label to see, lo and behold, that this product is ‘radurized’.

Why would you irradiate honey?

Now I know that honey is one of nature’s few products that never spoils so why would you irradiate honey?? So I begin to think I understand what ‘natural’ honey might mean. And of course I am now on the hunt to track down some ‘natural’ honey (and also to find out why you would irradiate honey in the first place).

On Saturday I am ambling through the stalls at the Craigpark Open Day for their 100th Anniversary enjoying the sublime warm autumn day, the festive atmosphere and the laid back sense of community connection, when I spy some unlabelled bottles of honey on a stall table. I pounce on them and as I start spluttering with excitement thinking about all the questions I want to ask, Roy says to me:

 ‘No dear, it’s not irradiated .. is that what you were going to ask?’

So here is the oracle who can answer all my questions about the mysteries of honey. It turns out that honey is irradiated to get rid of the harmful effects of the pesticides that have been used on the plants from which the bees have gathered their nectar. And if an area is pesticide free, there is no need to irradiate the honey.

In the Cape where there are badgers, (who love honey nearly as much as Pooh Bear), this is called ‘badger friendly’ honey. So now at last, Liz at Lancaster provides guests with natural unradurized honey, made by bees which have fed off the nectar of citrus trees at Hilton in the Natal Midlands.

Like Hannibal in the A-team .. I do so love it when a plan comes together !

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