Ring In A Sweet Rosh Hashanah With A Honey Tasting Flight

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is associated with many symbolic foods. Fish, dates, apples, pomegranates, and challah, a special bread, are all commonly consumed during the two-day holiday. Then there's honey. Both apples and challah are traditionally dipped in honey, symbolizing good things to come in the year ahead.

"Honey is important at Rosh Hashanah because of its sweetness — and the same is true of apples," Rabbi Jason Miller told The Detroit News. "You want to have a sweet New Year. And, in the time of the Torah, honey was what people used as a sweet substance."

For those hoping for abundant sweetness (meaning happiness or material benefits) in the New Year, the more honey, the better. A honey-tasting flight, in fact, is an excellent option for Rosh Hashanah's first night — it falls on September 15 this year — when the symbolic foods are typically eaten. This kind of sampler is an opportunity to try various kinds of honey, including those whose purchase supports the local community. The important thing, of course, is that the selections are all 100% pure honey — an important distinction for kosher reasons.

The best honey to choose for Rosh Hashanah

When purchasing honey for Rosh Hashanah, most experts recommend a flight sampler that includes both local and seasonal honey, as well as varieties that represent a spectrum of flavors and hues. Both light and dark honey should be included, as a rule, as well as honey that exhibits varying degrees of flavor intensity. Of course, these two categories — color and flavor — are often aligned. Dark Buckwheat and manuka honey, for example, are both noted for their intense flavors. Clover honey, by contrast, is both light in color and relatively mild to taste.

Given that honey and apples are traditionally served together on Rosh Hashanah, choosing varieties of honey that pair especially well with apples is a great way to take your flight to the next level. Tupelo honey, an amber-colored and mild-tasting honey, is a great pairing with red Gala apples, for instance. Apple blossom honey, as the name suggests, is also a natural pairing partner for the pome fruit. In fact, it's particularly delicious with apples of the McIntosh variety.

Keeping your honey tasting flight kosher

Honey is naturally kosher, meaning it needn't be certified as such via hechsher. However, some products labeled as honey may contain additives or bee-derived products, both of which can disqualify them from kosher status. No, not all products that come from bees are inherently kosher. Honey and beeswax, for example, are considered kosher, while royal jelly is not. Excessive filtering or using non-kosher equipment in production are also disqualifying factors.

A few years ago, The Jerusalem Post reported on an examination of 50 different kinds of honey to determine which were appropriate for use on Rosh Hashanah and noted that nearly 20% of them were disqualified based on various reasons, including insufficient purity and a lack of verification for plant production conditions. The outlet pointed out that it's nearly impossible to tell kosher from non-kosher honey-based solely on taste or color.

Obviously then, given these factors, appropriate care should be taken in selecting honey for your Rosh Hashanah tasting flight.