Palm Honey in La Gomera. Does that sound like honey that is made from bees that ravage through palm trees in La Gomera? Well, if that’s the case, you’re wrong. Palm honey is just the name. It is also called palm syrup and it has nothing to do with honey. Join us as we explore “Casa de la Miel de Palma”.
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Palm Honey in La Gomera – Ecotourism at its best
The wind in La Gomera is good for the trees and they thrive here. They came to the island from the sea and has become an endemic species for La Gomera. From these palms, they make palm honey and at the Casa de la Miel de Palma you can learn all about this nectar from the palms. It is free of charge to visit and you can also buy your palm honey in their shop.
Lorena Garcia Noda greets us when we arrive. We don’t waste any time and head straight for the museum. There is a display that shows what you can make out of the palm trees. Because one awesome thing is that they use everything from the tree. And by everything, I mean literary everything.
Fun Fact: Rats are both good and bad for the palm trees. They are good because they help to spread the seeds. They are bad because they bite the tree and that can kill the tree. To prevent that, you can often see metal plates on the trees. That prevents the rats from climbing to the top and killing the tree.
Using everything from the palm tree
From the trunk, they make beehives and trays for the animals. From the palm leaves, they make mats, baskets and also roofs for houses. And the best part… to this day, they still make toys for children. Simple and cute animals that are made out of palm trees instead of plastic – talk about sustainability. When a toy breaks, you can even throw it out the window and it will become dirt!
And they also make floating devices for when children are learning how to swim. Yet another great thing that does not include plastic! I really loved this place and that it really is ecological in every way. On Saturdays, they invite children from the surrounding villages and they get to spend a couple of hours here.
Fun Fact: The Palm trees are either male or female. The dates only comes from the female trees.
Keeping old traditions alive
On Wednesdays, there is a meeting for females. Males are also allowed, but they only turn up sometimes. This day is all about keeping old traditions alive and making sure that they are not forgotten. There are only two women left that can make mats and baskets from the palm leaves. So each Wednesday, they come to the museum and teach other women how to do so.
Hopefully, this will be successful and keep the tradition alive even after the last two women are no longer here.
Fun Fact: Palm honey is only made in La Gomera. They make another one in Chile but it’s not the same. You can only buy palm honey on the island and in some stores in Tenerife.
This is how palm honey is made
- Climb the palm tree to the top and cut off the leaves from the top part.
- “Hurt” the tree to make it bleed sap and let the sap drip into a bucket. This must be made in the evening. It’s compared to taking the peel of an onion.
- Climb the tree again in the morning (like super early) to collect the sap from the bucket. Each tree gives about ten liters of sap per day!
- Repeat for five to six months and then leave the tree to recover for five years.
Once you have the sap (also called Guarapo) you either need to make the palm honey straight away or you need to freeze it. It will ferment super quickly so you can’t keep it out. To make the palm honey you only need to cook the sap for several hours and it becomes this sweet syrup that is called palm honey.
Fun Fact: You can’t collect the sap during summer or wintertime. During the summer it gets to hot and the sap is ruined. During winter there is rain and if the water gets into the bucket of sap it will also be ruined.
Local businesses are making the honey
There are nine companies on the island that make palm honey. Most of them are just small companies with just family working and then there are three companies that are larger. Seven of the nine companies are located in the same village as the museum (Alojera Village). And one interesting thing is that all the trees are privately owned and you “borrow” your tree to the companies. So there are no huge plantations with palm trees, they are scattered around the island.
A trip to the museum is free of charge but if you want to see the palm trees, they also arrange guided tours to places where there are trees (for a fee). While in the museum, you don’t get to try the palm honey but you can buy it from the shop. Since we were here on a press trip, they had arranged for us to try the sap (Guarapo) and the palm honey and even a liquor that is made from the honey.
Fun Fact: A palm tree can become about 300 years old. Each five to seven years, they grow about one meter in height.
Tasting different kinds of Palm Honey
- Guarapo: The sap straight from the tree. Both Mini and I felt that it tasted like coconut water. It was sweet but at the same time, it was not to sweet. It looked like sugar water with a yellowish touch. Since this needs to be in the freezer, you can’t buy Guarapo in any stores. Your only chance of scoring some is if you know someone that works with palm honey and they can set you up.
- Grappa: The liquor that is made out of the palm honey. They just mix it with alcohol. Ok, so this was a bit to sweet for me. But if you like liquor, you will probably like this one.
- Palm Honey: Ok, so we established that this is not made from bees. So what does it taste like? According to me it tastes very sweet but there is also a taste of licorice. I can imagine that this would go perfect with vanilla ice cream. Mini thinks that it tasted a little bit burned. You use the honey on cheese and deserts.
Information about Casa de la Miel de Palma
Address: Caserío Aldama, 80, 38852 Alojera, La Gomera.
Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday 10.00 – 17.30.
Entrance fee: Free of charge but if you want to see the palm trees you have to pay for an organized trip to another location.
Website: Click here to get to Casa de la Miel de Palma website.
Some visiting advice:
The information that you get while in the museum is really great and informative. However, since there is so much information, you don’t need a guided tour along with the palm trees. I do suggest that you buy something in their gift shop to show your support. If you want to see the palm trees, just keep your eyes open while getting here and you will see the trees. It looks really great with ladders propped up against the trunk. But you will probably not see any people working there. If you want to see people collecting the sap you need to be up and ready at about 04.30 in the morning.
While being in La Gomera, we stayed one night at Casa Fatima and close to this place, they had some trees. We went out super early in the morning to see them collect the sap but we weren’t lucky. I have no idea if we were to late or to early but there was no one there. And later we heard that the work is done super quickly so you will easily miss it!
Interested in ecotourism? You might also be interested in our post about whale watching.