I first heard about fireweed honey when an old-time beekeeper told me that, of all the honeys he'd had in his nearly fifty years of apiary activity, fireweed was his favorite. "It's the champagne of honeys," he said.
A fascinating plant, fireweed is one of the first signs of life to appear after a forest has burned off. Thin stalks shoot up out of the blackened soil. By the end of that summer or next they've carpeted the charred land with a bouquet of red-purple flowers. Beekeepers set their hives among them to help them pollinate. We get to enjoy the product—delicate, delicious honey.
This honey, harvested in the shadows of Washington's Mt. Rainier and Oregon's Mt. Hood, lives up to its romantic associations. It has a light, delicate nose and a fine, spreadable crystalline texture that reminds me of champagne bubbles. The flavor is like a sweet summer pear: light, luscious, mouthwatering.