Archive for June, 2013

GoNaturally Organic Candy with Honey
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

These organic hard candy drops are made with organic honey.

They are USDA certified organic, as well as gluten-free, and each pound includes about 110 individually wrapped pieces.

GoNaturally Organic Hard Candy makes all its products in the United States. In addition, none of the products include artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives or hydrogenated oils.

Ingredients: organic honey, organic evaporated cane juice and organic brown rice syrup

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Queen Bee Gardens’ Confections Tell a Lifelong Tale
Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Queen Bee Garden's - Kent Zeller

Kent Zeller’s family has a long history that began in the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Northern Wyoming.

To support their large family, Clarence and Bessie Zeller produced honey from the wild bees and bee trees. A bee tree is a tree that is hollow in one or several spots. This is where bees can make their home and honey is produced. In 1976, the family tradition of producing honey grew when ancestral recipes were turned into honey candy. More recipes were developed, and in 1979 the company grew to produce even more gourmet confections. And now, in 2013, Kent Zeller talks about his past with Queen Bee Gardens—and the future.

Your family has a long history of working with honey. Why did your grandparents decide to start producing honey? What prompted that decision?

My great grandfather first started collecting honey bees from the river bottom near my hometown (Lovell, Wyoming) in the early 1900s. However, my grandparents took over the bees, including the honey producing part, and wanted to provide employment for their sons, so they started to use the honey to manufacture candy in 1976.

Can you talk a little about that honey and what flavor variety it is?

The honey that Zeller & Sons (a sister company to Queen Bee Gardens) produces is mild honey. When it is extracted, the honey looks clear, almost like water. Over time it will darken, but not as much as other places in the United States. Honey changes color after it has been exposed to light through extracting.

How much honey do you now produce a year? Do you have to outsource (if so, from where) or do you provide all of the honey for your products still to this day?

The honey that Zeller and Sons produces varies every year according to moisture levels and the weather. Last year, we harvested more than 182,000 lbs. of honey. The year before yielded a little more than 60,000 lbs. We don’t outsource any honey. Queen Bee Gardens purchases some of the honey extracted from Zeller & Sons for our delectable confectionaries that we have been making for three generations.

Can you take me through the process of harvesting your honey and making your own candy? Is this still all done by taking the honey from the bee trees?

The honey is not taken from the bee trees anymore. Zeller & Sons has around 2,000 colonies of bees. Each year, as we have bees come back to us from pollinating the almond trees in California, we split strong colonies of bees and provide a new queen for them. Sometimes we even buy bees to fill other colonies. Then, over a process of about six weeks, we feed the bees and get them prepared for their new homes on farmers’ lands. This is where the bees find the nectar.

Usually, the farmers are growing  alfalfa, and this is where our mild honey comes from. Harvesting takes place around the end of August and goes through mid-October.

Do all of your candy recipes come from your Scottish ancestry? Where else do you get ideas from?

Our original base recipe came from our Scottish ancestry, but we have since evolved beyond that where Bessie, my grandmother, made up the original recipes after the honey taffy. We get ideas from everyday life—people we work with. For example, our customers often give suggestions as to what they would like.  Then, some creations form out of  pure curiosity. Sometimes, we think, “Hmmm, what would this taste like if we mixed this and that together?” Generally the candies taste great, but every so often they  won’t.

What sets your candy apart from your competitors?

What sets Queen Bee apart is the mild flavor of honey, the amount of products made with honey (56 products), and the experience of manufacturing candy from honey for three generations (been in business for 37 years). “Several of our products have honey as the only sweetener. Our award-winning, hand-crafted, all-natural, gluten-free candy has defied the odds, as we were told before starting that making candy from honey was not possible. We have been defying the odds for three generations now.” –Bessie Zeller- (The Queen Bee)

Why do you love working with honey?

It’s the one sweetener that I’m not allergic to. Because of its character, honey changes with every batch of candy we make and this keeps us on our toes.

What’s it like being a part of a successful family business for all of these years?

We almost lost Queen Bee Gardens in 1993. That was difficult for all of us. I was in the second grade, and my mother came in and told me the factory burnt down. Some of my siblings thought it was an April fool’s joke. It wasn’t. However, within eight weeks, Queen Bee Gardens was up and running again thanks to help from local communities, donations of equipment, and countless hours of labor.

As you can see, even with my family’s company being burned to the ground, that made them more determined to succeed. We are seeing the results of their hard work ethic today.

Do you have plans to work more with honey and honey products in the future?

Absolutely. We are branching out into different products such as whipped honey, new truffles, and we added a new honey caramel. This is opening up a whole new world of possibilities.

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Kakao’s Sea Salt Caramels
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Sea salt caramels, Kakao’s most popular confection, are made with homemade caramel and honey.

The caramels are dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. These delicious chocolates come in packages of four.

Kakao Chocolate, a St. Louis, Mo. company, vows to only use the finest all-natural ingredients, with no artificial flavors or colors in its chocolate confections. Brian Pelletier, owner and chief chocolatier at Kakao, worked in corporate marketing for 20 years before finding his true passion in chocolate confectionary in 2008. All of the caramels produced by Kakao are made with local honey from Weidner Farm.

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