Hello Honey! Like a fine wine…..
the color and flavor of every nectar reflects
a particular time and place
Bright citrus and summer berries, buttery undertones
Savannah Bee Company describes Tupelo as the “gold standard” of honeys, like a “slow moving river of sunshine.” L.L. Lanier and Son’s Tupelo Honey Co. has harvested honey from the tupelo-gum tree since 1898 in swamps along the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers of northwest Florida. Bees are placed on elevated platforms along the river’s edge, free to search out the fragrant nectar in April and May. As the white Tupelo bloom begins, beekeepers clean the combs of other honey to be sure to collect the just new crop. Then the new crop of honey is removed after bloom, to keep the honey pure. Tupelo honey is a light golden amber color with a slight greenish cast. Because of its unusually high fructose content, tupelo honey will not granulate. (A granulated honey indicates an impure Tupelo honey.) Be careful when purchasing Tupelo honey, as it can be mixed with Gall berry, which blooms right after the Tupelo tree, or cut with wildflower honey. Fun fact: Tupelo Honey by the band Van Morrison was a song and album released in 1971.
L.L. Lanier & Son’s, Wewahitchka, Florida www.lltupelohoney.com
“Most honey is made by bees. But sourwood is made by bees and angels.”
Sourwood honey requires just the right timing: the sourwood trees bloom late in June through August and must have enough sunshine and rain to produce enough flowers to yield a honey crop. If the understory trees don’t receive enough rain, the producer cannot make honey that year. Like fine wines, this honey from southern Appalachia is only available during those perfect “vintage” years. Sourwood honey is so rare that a good crop sometimes only surfaces once every decade. Like Tupelo honey, the beekeepers are careful to restrict the bees’ nectar gathering to the sourwood blossoms. If the honey has even a small percentage of other varietals, it cannot be sold as sourwood. Sourwood honey won the 2005 World Honey Tasting Competition for its flavors of molasses, maple, and mocha. The color ranges from pure white to light amber with a slightly grey or purple tint. Sourwood trees are also called “Lilly of the Valley Trees” because of the similar look of the blossoms.
Savannah Bee Co. Savannah, Georgia savannahbee.com
Orange blossom honey:
Candy-sweet explosion of citrus flavor
Orange Blossom honey comes from sunny southern Florida and is one of the earliest honeys harvested in the year. The orange blossoms are a classic flower for bridal bouquets because they symbolize purity and have a lovely fragrance. Use this floral and fruity honey for Baklava or to drizzle over French toast. Orange Blossom is also perfect as a dip for figs, strawberries, and melon.
Inspired by a field of Texas wildflowers
Unlike a varietal honey drawn from a specific nectar plant, Wildflower honey depends on the whimsy of bees let loose in fields of flowers. The bright golden honey is rich and luscious: a taste of Texas in a jar. Enjoy Wildflower honey on a classic peanut butter and honey sandwich or twirled on a steamy latte.
Warne Bee Farm, Anna TX 972-924-3928 www.warneshoneybees.com
Texas Huajillo Honey:
Smoky with a tease of dried chilies
Texas Huajillo honey springs from the brush country of Southwestern Texas and Northern Mexico along the Rio Grande River. Bees feast on the fragrant white blooms of native Guajillo Acacia berlandieri in March and early April. (Guajillo is also known as Huajillo, Berlandier Acadia, and various Catclaws.) The large, multi-trunked shrub can be pruned to a small specimen tree for use on patios or around pools. Guajillo has an open airy form, fern-like lacy foliage, and prefers full sun. Walker Honey Farms Huajillo honey is harvested in Frio County, Texas, southwest of San Antonio.
Walker Honey Farm, Rogers, TX http://www.walkerhoneyfarm.com
Malty and earthy
Buckwheat honey is unusual for its deep brown color, thick rich texture, and a taste that reminds one of mild molasses. Honeybees are drawn to the irresistible fragrance of the profuse white buckwheat flowers, a plant related to rhubarb and sorrel. Buckwheat honey is the perfect sweetener for Jewish Honey Cake or gingerbread, delicious on sweet potatoes and a distinctive topping for pancakes. Local honey producers rely on beekeeper friends in states like North Dakota and New York to provide honey from this northern crop.
More reading: National Honey Board http://www.honey.com
Pictures by Starla and Linda