American Flavor
Ames Farm Honey
Brian Fredericksen sells seven varieties of single-source honey, harvested from 450 hives across Minnesota.
Photo © Periscope

The country's most talented artisans are turning out better versions of kitchen basics like sea salt, granola and honey.

If you gave Brian Fredericksen a spoonful of one of his varietal honeys, he could tell you what kind of flowers the bees were pollinating when they produced it, in what season and in what kind of weather. To most people, it would just taste delicious—as different from squeeze-bottle honey as an heirloom tomato in August is from a supermarket one in January.

In the mid-1990s, Fredericksen, a former engineer, bought an apple orchard near Minneapolis. The plan was to trade the corporate world for an agricultural life, growing apples to sell at farmers' markets and learning to make honey with the two beehives that came with the orchard. But early that first spring, he tasted honey infused with the fragrance and flavor of the first dandelion blossoms of the season. He was awestruck. "Raw, single-source honey is like a floral snapshot," he says. "Single-source is one hive, in one location, in one time period."

Today, even with 450 hives spread across Minnesota, Fredericksen does most of the work with just one additional beekeeper (though he brings in a little extra help at harvest). And he still uses the tools of a hobbyist. "Commercial equipment destroys the identity of the honey," he says. But, while single-source honey remains his obsession, he does make the blend Blooming Prairie, a creamy raw-honey concoction collected at the peak of summer. From $6 for 12 oz; amesfarm.com

Related: Cooking with Honey
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