I normally don’t feature guest vendors but I feel Sale Creek Honey is far from a guest as Eddie and Lou McKenzie have been MSFM vendors for over a decade. Eddie fondly recalls, “I don’t remember the year, but I was invited to join the market when they first moved from Neidlov’s parking lot to the corner of Main and Williams, over 10 years ago for sure. At the time, I was a full time beekeeper, I had plenty of honey, and I attended every Wednesday.”
Even when they could only vend intermittently, they were still full year members attending meetings and putting the love into the market that they put into their hives. “I just don’t produce the volume anymore since I am more or less retired. Back then we also did the Chattanooga Public Market every Sunday and Market Square Farmer’ Market in Knoxville every Saturday.”
For the past two years, Sale Creek Honey has still supported the market by being a weekly “regular”, far-from-regular customer who has doned some of the best face masks including leopard print undergarments and a colorful drawn-on mustache mask complete with a smile.
As I was new to local honey, I asked for a flavor description to help those of us nectar novices. He explained:
The three main sources of this year’s spring crop are all light colored and mild flavored, although the privet by itself is a little tangy. When the three are are mixed together, that tangy flavor gets toned down a bit. The spring crop seems sweeter than the summer, so I like it for cooking or mixing in with other foods.
The summer crop, being mostly from the sourwood trees is my favorite flavor in honey. You notice the flavor more so than the sweetness. Sourwood honey has long had a reputation as being one of the finest honeys from North America. It is only produced in the southern Blue Ridge and Cumberland Mountains and so it is somewhat rare, because it has always brought a premium price, some ethically challenged individuals (crooks) will put a sourwood label on any kind of honey just to make a sale. This year something kind of odd happened with the sourwood. At the time the sourwood trees are in bloom, the huckleberries are getting ripe. If you get a heavy rain or two at that time, the huckleberries will soak up that water and crack open like a tomato after a lot of rain. Once the huckleberry juice is exposed, it is sweet enough to be attractive to the bees and they will take it back to the hive and store it in the combs with the sourwood honey. If you hold a comb up to the light, you will see mostly very clear light honey, with purple cells of the berry juice scattered in. When it is all mixed together, it gives the sourwood honey a reddish cast. The flavor of the sourwood isn’t affected very much, it just makes the honey appear darker in color.
They will have both the spring crop (blackberry, privet and clover) and the summer crop (sourwood and huckleberry). Two sizes, 16 oz. and 32 oz., either with or without two pieces of honeycomb, and also the 4” square pieces of honeycomb.
As Eddie likes to remain old school and rock his flip phone (I am envious and working my way there someday), he does not have a website or do social media. He does however love to talk in person so visit their booth this Wednesday and please remember you cannot pay them with plastic. In Eddie’s words, pay “either cash, personal check or pre-1964 U.S. silver coins (dimes, quarters, halves or silver dollars) at the rate of $1 in silver equal to 25 federal reserve notes.”