Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Yesterday I threw away nearly 3/4 of a jar of buckwheat honey. I bought it from our local beekeeper, never having tried buckwheat honey before, but having enjoyed the carrot, blackberry, meadow foam and other flavors he offers. It was a dark, tarry, grainy honey and when I opened the jar and the smell hit me I thought maybe it had gone bad. I took it back and learned that buckwheat honey is supposed to be like that. It's FULL of antioxidants and is very, very good for you. So I gave it a try. Yuck. It tasted like blackstrap molasses on steroids and sweating. It ruined a cup of tea. It rendered toast and peanutbutter inedible. I thought that maybe if I used it like molasses, in baking with lots of cinnamon and cloves and other spices, it would be better. So I made a honey applesauce cake, and the cake smelled so bad that before it finished baking, I threw out the rest of the honey and washed out the jar. The cake was a beautiful cake with a lovely texture and might have had a good taste except for that nasty honey. I threw it into the back yard, and the crows fought over it. "You try it!" "No, YOU try it!" "I don't want to try it." "But it might be food." "I don't care. I'm not that hungry." "Hey, here comes Mikey. He'll eat anything!" Mikey ate part of the cake, and left the rest for the possums and raccoons and they deserve it!

My friend DJ loaned me a book called "Victorian Cakes" - sort of a memoir of a childhood in the early 1900s, with recipes. I got the honey/applesauce recipe from that. I also tried a "feather cake" which had much happier results. DH bought me a flour sifter and for the first time in my life I have sifted ingredients together three times before adding them to the batter. The cake turned out quite nicely, if a bit too sweet, but I think I can cut down on the ammount of sugar with no ill effects. The feather cake is to be flavored according to taste. I made almond flavor, and will make another one for knitting, and maybe a honey applesauce cake with diced dried apricots. And wildflower honey. Never again with buckwheat!

I know you can make buckwheat pancakes and they are heavy, felted-flannel-like discs that take a mess of butter and syrup to get down. What else do you do with buckwheat? Who grows it, and why?


  • At 8:20 AM , Anonymous tlbw said...

    Well, that's not what MY buckwheat pancakes taste like! Especially the overnight yeast-risen type...The Bretons make a buckwheat crepe. And then there is kasha, a pilaf from Central and Eastern Europe. I like buckwheat in moderation. It is a strong flavor and can be bitter but I have to wonder if the honey was contaminated. We used to buy gallons of honey at the old Corno's, including buckwheat. It was dark, and intense, but very edible. In truth though, only the very light honeys are considered appropriate for baking. Baking with honey can be pretty tricky.
    Sorry for your frustrating experience!

  • At 8:30 AM , Anonymous tlbw said...

    Forgot to address the who and why...
    Buckwheat isn't a variety of wheat, or even a grain proper. It is a roughly triangular seed. Yes I know all grains are seeds but "true" grains pretty much come from grass-related plants. Buckwheat (called that because the seeds resemble beech nuts)grows places grains are less reliable, and I believe it requires a shorter season. Central Europe - prominent as kasha in Azkenashic Jewish cuisine, and for some reason Brittany, where it is called sarrasin. I doubt that it came back from the Crusades!
    You have peaked my interest. The amateur food ethnologist will see what she can learn before knitting on Saturday!
    Speaking of exotic food, the password is "miceaki". I'll pass, though teriyki sauce can do wonders...

  • At 8:35 AM , Blogger Willow said...

    I tried a buckwheat pancake. Once.

  • At 12:21 PM , Anonymous tlbw said...

    And then there is soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles.) I really like soba.
    Check out wikipedia for info on buckwheat. A staple crop in 6 weeks on poor acidic soil? You can see why people grow it.
    Sorry for three separate comments!

  • At 1:21 PM , Blogger Sheep Rustler said...

    Galettes - the Breton buckwheat crepes mentioned above - are paper thin and absolutely gorgeous, so I guess it depends on what you use your buckwheat for. Pity about the honey, some tastes are just TOO strong! Your tale about the crows and the cake was just too funny!

  • At 2:56 PM , Blogger Wannietta said...

    How could any honey be so ghastly!?! Shame but no point in keeping it for no reason.
    Buckwheat husks apparently make good pillows!!

  • At 5:12 PM , Anonymous Benita said...

    I like buckwheat pancakes, too, but with butter and lots of strawberry syrup.

  • At 5:38 PM , Blogger sophanne said...

    I think they feed it to cows mostly.

  • At 11:12 PM , Blogger Amy Lane said...

    Okay-- my only experience with Buckwheat is "Ten Things To Do in Denver When YOu're Dead"-- and buckwheats was a particularly nasty execution.

    And now I know why!

    Poor crows--that'll teach 'em!

  • At 3:09 PM , Blogger Alwen said...

    I'm another who doesn't like buckwheat, not honey and not pancakes. Give me a jar of blueberry honey (I'm in one of the big blueberry-growing areas) any day!


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