Readee’s Bees

Readee’s Bees

As a carpenter turned bee whisperer, Read Nichols, the owner of Savannah’s Readee’s Bees, is a dedicated, hardworking purist that started his small business over a decade ago.

He said it best when I sat down with him to learn all about the pure Southern gold he sells around town:

“I got into it to serve the public the best honey in Savannah. The best!” Although Nichols gained experience working with bees growing up in West Virginia, he got back into the bee business while working at Hunter Army Airfield.

A co-worker who had worked with bees got with Nichols to transfer some bees onto his very own property on Wilmington Island.

From there things grew by the gallon of honey, which is easy to do when a producer takes as much pride in his product as Nichols does.

Within the first year of business, Readee’s Bees was accepted to sell his product at the Forsyth Farmers Market. “I sold all of it the first day,” he chuckles.

“I started the bees out here at the house, and I got ten or fifteen hives out here, and it was really good until the mosquito sprayer came,” Nichols recalls.

“Three years in a row they came and annihilated my bees, so I moved them over to South Carolina. Ever since then it’s been blasting off. We have over five hundred hives over there now, separated in maybe six or eight different lots.

Readee’s Bees’ farm sits next to a wildlife refuge in South Carolina, which is why it produces wildflower honey—a type that can be said to be his signature

Wildflower honey is the result of bees who come in contact with—as you probably guessed—wildflower nectar.

“A lot of people misunderstand about honey, that you put flavors in it. You cannot flavor honey unless you want to flavor it,” he explains.

“The only flavors I have are the cinnamon and peach cream honey, and that is it. The other honeys are all actual natural nectars that come off of the flowers that the bees bring back, they put it into the hive, and they turn it into honey. It takes one bee to go get it and bring it back to another bee who transforms it into honey and puts it into the hive,” Nichols says.

So if you buy orange blossom honey you can expect the natural flavor to come from the nectar of the orange blossom plant that was close to the bees’ home.

As for the rest of the honey sold by Nichols, he carefully sources the honey from only the best grade A farms around the country.Tupelo, sourwood, blackberry, blueberry, cotton honey, orange blossom, clover, and buckwheat are the other types of honeys bottled locally. Each type has its only subtle variance of texture, color, and flavor.

The buckwheat I sampled was almost like molasses, thick and pungent, while the wildflower had delicate floral notes.

After his quick success at the Forsyth Farmers Market, Nichols was given the opportunity to provide his honey to local restaurants and stores around Savannah.

Going through the proper channels, Readee’s Bees gained its wholesale license through the Department of Agriculture. He designed his own one of a kind processing trailer, which was approved by the Department of Agriculture, to kickstart the growth of his business.

To this day, Nichols works in that same trailer where he hand pours every bottle of honey and hand cuts each square of honeycomb. Nichols showed me his process.

Large wood frames stuffed with honey comb, delivered directly from his South Carolina farm, are brought to his processing property, where he perfectly measures out each square and slices them before packaging the dense rich comb into its individual container.

Inside the trailer sits an extractor where he places honeycomb to be rapidly spun and all of its sticky sweet syrup removed. Gallons of floral natural honey line the walls, ready to be poured into their individual bottles then labeled. All of Readee’s Bees’ honey is pure raw unprocessed honey.

100% honey means just that, nothing else is included. I ask Nichols how he achieves his pure natural gold, and the answer is far from simple.

Getting truly pure honey into a bottle means controlling the environment in which the bees live. If the bees come into contact with hummingbird feed, the processed sugar syrup can ruin the honey.

The bigger the property to keep the hives, the less likelihood interference from outside sugars can occur. Some farms have at least fifty acres to ensure the utmost purity.

If you have ever purchased honey that crystallized soon thereafter, it is often the result of buying impure honey. Nichols explains, “When one molecule of sugar gets in a five gallon bucket, it is history.”

The boutique bee company has a few extremely unique and original products. The jalapeño honey is extremely popular, with its expertly balanced heat followed by sweetness to cool down your palate.

The peach and cinnamon cream honeys are hand mixed by Nichols, and are a top secret recipe. The peach is made by combining a peach extract which results in a honey spread that smells like fresh peach ice cream.

For the bee pollen, according to Nichols, “The pollen comes off of the flowers, which is balled up on the bee’s legs. We collect it also. The bee goes through a finger catch in the front hive, it [the pollen] drops down onto a tray, and we collect it everyday.”

Since 2007, Read has been selling his honey at the Forsyth Farmers Market. And unless he is sick, you can find his booth on any given Saturday morning. He sources to several local restaurants including The Grey, Husk, and Elizabeth on 37th.

But if you would like to find it in a store, try Brighter Day, Lucky’s Market, or Fresh Market.

Original Article

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Prosciutto + Pistachio Salad

Prosciutto + Pistachio Salad

Last week I gave you a simple recipe that used seasonal local ingredients. My Onion, Fig, & Feta tarts used cheese from a local goat farm and seasonal fresh figs. And although the tarts are extremely delectable on their own, I created them with the intent to include the pastries as part of a larger meal that is just as simple to prepare as the first portion.

Fig pastry recipe is here: Onion, Feta, & Fig Tarts

If you have thumbed around my blog, for even a second, you will notice that it is filled with hearty southern food and decadent baked goods. I am not a one trick pony, I do (quite often) make healthy(ish) food. I swear you can find a salad recipe some fifty posts ago.

Like my fig tarts, and this recipe uses fresh local ingredients; plus, you can whip it up in a dash. My homemade salad dressing, which sets any salad apart, is made with local Savannah honey and white balsamic for a punch.

I crisp of some salty prosciutto and sprinkle over pistachios. Served on the side, which add sweet and savory notes, are the fig tarts posted last week.

This one is a dinner party show stopper (along with well cooked protien) or a satisfying weeknight meal that is better than that frozen pizza we always go to.

Pistachio & Proscuitto Salad

Pistachio & Proscuitto Salad

Ingredients

  • For The Dressing:
  • 1/4 Cup of White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons of Honey
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 of a Lemon
  • For The Salad:
  • 1 Cup of Shelled Pistachios, toasted
  • 4 Ounces of Prosciutto
  • 1 Pound of Spring Mix
  • 2 Onion, Fig, & Feta Tarts Per Person

Instructions

  1. The day before, or a few hours before, make the salad dressing.
  2. In a mason jar, combine all of the dressing ingredients.
  3. Vigorously shake.
  4. Place the dressing in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. To make the salad, heat up a medium skillet and fry the prosciutto until crispy.
  6. Drain cooked prosciutto on paper towels.
  7. Make each salad by topping them evenly with pistachios, crumbled prosciutto, the dressing, and 2 tarts.
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Savannah’s Capital Bee Honey

Savannah’s Capital Bee Honey

Savannah is one of those “little big cities” where it seems like everybody knows everybody else. So, while researching for my next article, it didn’t come as a huge surprise to learn that my husband grew up with Capital Bee Company’s owner Thomas Hinely.

After getting a little backstory on Broughton Street’s newest bee bazaar, I quickly jumped on the chance to pop into their new storefront and learn about honey from Thomas.

Though I went to learn the ins-and-outs of the honey hustle, I ended up learning Thomas’ tale, which is about as close as to the American Dream as I’ve seen in person, and he taught me how his perseverance and willingness to take risks have landed him as Savannah’s newest prophet of pollination.

After growing up a local Savannah boy, Thomas began nursing school following his time at Calvary Day School. Midway through, he decided to end his current route and follow his dreams—starting his own local business.

He asked his family for help, they obliged, and Thomas was able to begin sourcing high quality honey from around the country then hand pouring each jar.

From there, starting small, Thomas took his honey on the road selling it at craft shows all over the east coast. Next came a website followed by wholesale distribution.

I remember tasting Thomas’ honey at several events around town and seeking it out immediately after. To this day, all of their honey is poured and jarred by hand in their warehouse located here in Savannah.

Thomas began the company in 2013, and only four short years later, on the week of Thanksgiving, his first storefront opened on Broughton Street.

“We call it our Honey Boutique. It’s our happy place. We get to sell our honey everyday and also support a lot of other small vendors like us,” Kristen Harkleroad, the Director of Operations, explains.

At the brand new location, you can usually find Thomas there educating patrons about honey or pumping out samples of their wildly unique honey. Kristen can often be found working in the store as well.

“Capital Bee focuses on unique, mono-floral honey. We work with small beekeepers from all over the United States to provide the best honey there is,” Kristen tells me.

Monofloral honey refers to the type of honey that is predominantly flavored from one plant type, allowing the honey to retain the distinct flavor profiles of that specific plant.

Another unique quality of Capital Bee’s honey is that it is all unfiltered and unheated. I ask Thomas and Kristen about this, and she explains that “honey is best unheated and unfitted to preserve its natural flavor along with its naturally occurring nutrients.”

The Raw Blueberry Honey has a strong scent and flavor of blueberry due to its pollination from a blueberry bush. When you open the bottle, your nose is filled with the floral scent of blueberries, and the flavor of the honey is extremely similar to the taste.

Adding it to treats like yogurt, ice cream, and baked goods is ideal for such a unique honey.

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The list of mono-honeys is long, blackberry, raspberry, snowberry, orange blossom, and maple are just some of the distinct flavors available. Each honey smells and tastes of the plant from which it was pollinated, and not a single jar at Capital Bee has a drop of flavoring added.

Capital Bee’s most unique honey is sourced from Texas—the Guajillo Acacia Honey. The bees contribute flavor to the honey from the cream colored blooms of a wild desert bush, guajillo acacia. Honey connoisseurs flock after this honey because its flavor profile is unique with notes of chocolate and coffee.

My all time favorite product, which I would guess is the same for most of Savannah, is Capital Bee’s Frosted Honey.

Although the honey looks like frosting, the whipped honey only has a texture that is similar icing but it is made purely from honey. To create it, white clover honey is whipped until it transforms into something more fluffy.

The best-seller for the store is a cinnamon version of the Frosted Honey, the Cinnamon Frosted Honey. Both air and cinnamon are whipped into the honey for this one. Both products are perfect for spreading on top of almost anything, fruit, bread, cookies, and even that sweet potato casserole that is at every family gathering.

If you are like me, a spoon is the only accompaniment that is needed for this honey.
For those that are not a fan of the sticky, sometimes messy, qualities of honey, Capital Bee’s Granulated Wildflower Honey is something you should try. Wildflower honey is put through a special heating and drying process to turn it into sweet little honey granules. The sweet floral characteristics of the wildflower honey remain, making this product perfect for baking or stirring into coffee.

If you are a good Southerner like me, you find yourself bringing a bottle of wine or covered dish to any gathering you attend. Capital Bee’s honeycomb is something you should consider taking next time.

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I love adding it to a party’s cheese plate, and of course devouring that cheese plate with wine. The sweet waxy handcut treat works hand in hand with all off the fruit, nuts, and cheese covering a well built cheeseboard.

Just last week, the store joined the Savannah Art Walk and now features over fourteen local artist on the walls of the boutique and through the store. The actual art walk happens on the second Saturday of every month.

When I asked Thomas and Kristen what was next for the growing company and store, I was told “we are going to debut a few new honeys and we have plans on expanding to some other products soon.”

Jerusalem Bagels with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese

Jerusalem Bagels with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese

Savory, nutty homemade Jerusalem bagels and a side of decadent, condensed burnt honey creamed cheese–it’s a baking recipe that I know everyone will love.

I am super ecstatic about this post and sharing a recipe that I will be adding to my list of rotating go-tos. As someone who constantly cooks, I can state with confidence, on behalf of all of the home cooks out there, it is rare that you find a recipe that is both easy and a show stopper.

The recipe makes Jerusalem bagels, which are different from a normal bagel due to the lack of boiling. Even though the bagels are not boiled, the flavor is still amazing. They taste reminiscent of a bagel/pretzel hybrid. By forgoing the step of boiling, you are saving on time and work, hence making the process a lot easier.

I recommend you eat these warm out of the oven or warm them up if you are eating them at a later time. They go with just about anything, hummus, cream cheese, cheese, etc.

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I wanted something sweet yet unique, so spruced up some cream cheese by making burnt honey. The process of “burning” honey is simply caramelizing it a bit, to give it a deeper more condensed flavor. A quick warning–once you eat honey like this you will never go back.

As for the topping, I glazed them with honey to add a bit of sweetness and keep with the honey theme and a sprinkling of sesame seeds to add nuttiness. The recipe is extremely versatile, serving as a great base for any topping or mix-in. In the future, I will be posting many more versions of Jerusalem Bagels.

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Jerusalem Bagels with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese

Yield: 6

Jerusalem Bagels with Burnt Honey Cream Cheese

Ingredients

  • Bagel Ingredients:
  • 1 Tablespoon of Quick Acting Yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Milk, warm but not higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 4 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons of Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons of Honey
  • Sesame Seeds for Topping
  • Burnt Honey Cream Cheese Ingredients:
  • 1 Block of Creamed Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Honey

Instructions

  1. First make your burnt honey creamed cheese. Pour your honey into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Cook the honey for about 10 minutes, until it turns a light amber color and thickens slightly. The honey will foam as it cooks, that is okay.
  3. Once reduced, set aside to let the honey cool completely.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine your burnt honey and creamed cheese. Stir to desired combination, swirled or fully mixed.
  5. Place mixture in a sealable container and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  6. Begin making your bagels by blooming your yeast in the warm milk, allowing to sit for about 5 minutes.
  7. In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, mix together your flour, baking powders, sugar.
  8. Pour in your bloomed yeast and milk, then mix until combined. Lastly mix in your salt as to not kill the yeast.
  9. Add your dough hook to your stand mixer, and kneed the mixture on medium for five minutes. A soft pliable dough should form. If the dough looks dry, add more milk as needed.
  10. After the dough has been kneaded, remove the dough from the mixer and rub on a light amount of olive oil.
  11. Place coated dough in a large oiled bowl, cover tightly. Allow to rise for at least one hour, or until it has doubled in size.
  12. Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two sheet pans by lining them with slip mats or greased parchment paper.
  13. Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and section the dough into six even pieces.
  14. On a lightly floured surface, roll each section of dough into a log that is about 12 inches long. Attach the ends together to create an oblong circle. Gently place on the prepared sheet pan.
  15. After the bagels are prepared, allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
  16. Before baking, slather each bagel with honey and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
  17. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until a golden color and cooked through.
  18. Serve with burnt honey creamed cheese.
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