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Your Ultimate Honey Shopping Guide

Confused about all the kinds of honey on the shelf? Here’s how to make sense of them.

It used to be that when you went to buy honey at the supermarket, there was a single kind: The one that came in a container in the shape of a bear. But that’s not the case any longer. Now there are more than 300 different kinds of honey available with different depths of color and flavor—and the flavors also change depending on the kind of flower the bee got the nectar from.

While you obviously won’t find all 300 kinds of honey in your supermarket (and some mass-produced kinds are a blend of lots of different kinds), you can usually find some of the more unique varieties by going to your local farmers’ market. The best part is that the seller will be able to tell you exactly what the honey will taste like (and often offer up a sample).

If you’re on your own in the grocery store, use this guide to make the right honey choice:

Clover honey: This variety is likely what you think of when you imagine the taste of honey—sweet and mild. That’s because the clover plant is used to make more honey than any other plant in the United States. Drizzle some into this honey-yogurt pancake sauce (or just directly on your pancakes instead of syrup) or stir it into your tea.

Orange blossom honey: This kind has, as you’d probably expect, a slight fruity taste to it, but it doesn’t taste just like oranges. It’s made in parts of Florida, Texas, and California. Bake some into these citrus-kissed honey cookies.

Manuka honey: This is not a honey you’ll find at a local farmers’ market, as the manuka bush grows mainly in New Zealand, but it’s been getting a lot of buzz recently in the health food industry and with some celebrities, as some research has shown it to have antibacterial properties (this is also why it’s often more expensive). The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association sets standards for what can be called manuka honey.

Avocado honey: Like avocados themselves, this honey mostly comes from California and has an almost molasses-y taste. It’s also good on toast!

Raw honey: There is no governing body that watches over use of this phrase, but it tends to mean a honey that hasn’t been heated up or processed in any way. Imagine taking honey directly from a beehive and putting it in a jar.

Whipped honey: This kind of honey is creamy (it’s sometimes even called creamed honey) and spreadable. It gets its texture from the crystallization that naturally occurs in honey and is ideal for slathering on baked goods like scones or biscuits.