Two of my favorite Davis Farmers Market ladies grace the entrance of the covered vendors section -- Dianne Madison of Yolo Press on the left, and Doneice Trotter of Pure Honey on the right. Yolo Press has the best olive oil, fruits, jams and gorgeous flowers. Doneice over at Pure Honey has a delightful assortment of raw honey, infused honey and caramel. And her stand is ALWAYS decorated with the most beautiful flowers from other Farmers Market vendors.
Photo by Tavio Valencia, Lifestyle by Tavio
I always enjoy chatting with Doneice and she was gracious enough to invite me to her family farm in Winters, California earlier this year. She showed me around their almond orchards, their production facility, and their family home and garden (and OMG her mom's pollinator-friendly garden is #gardengoals). Oh and she brought pastries from Lester Farms Bakery, which uses their honey! Yum!
Your raw honey is a little different than other honeys -- you offer infused honeys, caramel made with honey and honey with roasted almonds (in addition to regular raw honey of course). What led you to offer such a unique take on honey?
We wanted to diversify our brand and add a new dimension to honey by creating our Pure Infused Honeys, caramel sauce, and honey with roasted almonds. They were all the brain-child of my mom, Robin Harlan. She is the creative one out of us all and in the past was a cooking teacher.
For our infused honeys, we grow organic food-grade lavender on the farm and soak it in our raw honey, it adds an essence of lavender without being overwhelming.
At a time when jalapeño jelly became popular is when we decided to make Pure Honey infused with habanero spice and pepper flakes. We thought, why not take raw honey and add little spice? It is a healthier alternative to traditional jalapeño jelly.
We can't take credit for creating cinnamon-infused honey because the Chinese have been using cinnamon and honey as a health remedy for centuries. We use organic Ceylon cinnamon and just mix it with our raw wild flower honey.
A few ways to use Pure Infused Honeys are: Pure Lavender Honey drizzled over goat cheese with walnuts and blueberries on a baguette. Habanero infused honey is delicious over brie or add it to a marinade or salad dressing. Try drizzling our cinnamon-infused honey over butternut squash and bake.
We make the Pure Honey Caramel Sauce in small batches in our bottling room. It is my mom's recipe and she doesn't want anyone else to make it but me. I make it weekly by hand and it is pretty time-consuming. The caramel is decadent and delicious over apples, pears or ice cream.
Last year we came out with the Pure Honey with Roasted Almonds. We take Mariani Nut Company roasted and salted almonds and added them to our raw wild flower honey. It a perfect combination and great over cheeses, oatmeal, toast and more.
Photo Courtesy of Pure Honey
You do a lot of collaborations with other local businesses (e.g. Yolo Press olive oil soap, Davis Creamery ice cream, etc), what makes you inclined to collaborate? What have been some of your favorite collaborations?
We love collaborating with local businesses. As small business owners we need to stick together and support one another. That is what our Yolo County community is all about.
We have also collaborated with Berryessa Brewery -- they made their Tourist Trappe Triple beer with our Orange Blossom Honey. Putah Creek Cafe uses our Orange Blossom honey to make honey water for their cocktails. Father Paddy's Irish Public House in Woodland uses our honey for desserts and other items on there menu.
It is fun to see the creative ways our honey is being used throughout or local community. I can't say that we have a favorite collaboration because each item that has been made with our Pure Honey has a been amazing and unique!
Pure Honey truly is a family business (you work with your mom and stepdad) -- what are some of the best and most challenging aspects of having a family business?
Working with family has it challenges and benefits. In the beginning we had a fair share of bumps along the way and differences of opinions. Now we have found our roles that we all play within our apiary and business and it makes it easy for us to work together.
Henry handles the beekeeping and harvest. Robin cares for our pollinator-friendly garden and adds her creativity to the businesses. Then I handle facility operations, markets, distribution, social media, etc.
We try to take a vacation together every year and relax as a family, then come back and gear up for the next challenge.
A lot of blood, sweat, tears, and laughter has gone into Henry's Bullfrog Bees and Pure Honey. I am so proud that we have done this together as a family.
Henry's Bullfrog Bees and Pure Honey are family-owned and operated apiaries located in Winters, California
What is your favorite thing about Northern California?
There are so many things we love about Northern California. First is the availability and access to healthy food grown around us. Not everyone has the privilege or access to nutritional food and to know the people who grow the fruits and vegetables we love so much. Each week you can visit a variety of farmers markets, shop local and get to know your farmers. With the locality of the farms around we create less of a carbon foot print.
Just your average Davis Farmers Market haul, including Pure Honey
The great outdoors would be the second. Northern California is stunningly beautiful and hiking trails are everywhere. The ability to get outside and enjoy the beauty around us is pretty amazing.
Do you have any fun spring family traditions?
Our spring tradition is getting the apiary ready for harvest. We are cleaning around the apiary, getting our extracting machine ready, grafting queen bees for splits, and placing bee boxes out for wild flower honey flow. It is a busy yet exciting time of year around the apiary. Robin is also busy tending to our pollinator-friendly garden in the spring.
What is your favorite way to use honey?
I love using honey holistically. Honey is great for your skin. Add a thin layer of honey to your face and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes and wash it off with warm water. Honey naturally cleans your pores and softens your skin.
Lately I have been making honey ginger lemon water (see recipe below). It was a rough flu season. Being outside and working farmers markets, I am exposed to a lot. The honey ginger lemon water really saved me this season and my husband happens to love it too!
Photo by Tavio Valencia, Lifestyle by Tavio
*This is a rough outline of the recipe for honey ginger lemon water courtesy of Doneice Trotter:
- 8 quarts of water
- 10 oz. of Pure Honey (orange blossom or wild flower)
- Juice of 6 lemons
- 3 cups of whole peeled ginger
- 1/2 cup of zested ginger
- 2 shots of apple cider vinegar (optional)
Let is steep for about 45 minutes
Then taste to see if it is the consistency that you like
Strain the big chucks of ginger out and it is ready to drink
You can drink it hot or cold
Place in the refrigerator once it has cooled down
Pure Honey is a family owned and operated apiary located in Winters, California, along with Henry's Bullfrog Bees.
Pure Honey is featured in Poppy and Oak's Taste of Yolo Mini Box and Spring Allergy Mini Box. You can also purchase Pure Honey at the Davis Farmers Market, Nugget Markets and other local stores such as Redemption in Campbell, The Kitchen Table in Sacramento, and A Well Stocked Home in Woodland.