Why Tupelo Honey Makes the Perfect Gift
The holidays are fast approaching! Whether you’re giving a gift for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, raw honey is the perfect gift for those who take pleasure in food! There are many varieties of honey from multi-floral wildflower to light single flower monofloral types of honey. However, one stands out above the rest — tupelo honey, also known as the “champagne of the honey world,” or “Southern gold.”
Anyone who loves honey knows the special qualities of tupelo.
- It doesn't granulate or crystallize, which means it stays in a liquid state.
- The color is a lovely clear light gold with a green cast
- Most of all, its flavor is described as "buttery," "fruity," and delicate.
However, there is much more to tupelo. Take a look:
It’s a Regional Flavor
One of the things that makes tupelo honey so special is that it is made from the nectar from the flowers of the white gum tree. This is what produces the unique flavor and characteristic of the honey. The white gum tree, Nyssa ogeche, is found in swamplands. More specifically, it’s found in the swamps off of the Apalachicola River, which makes the trees difficult to access.
It Has a Distinctive Taste
Tupelo honey is monofloral. This means that the bees collect nectar from only one type of flower. In order to ensure that the bees are truly collecting the nectar from the white gum tree, beekeepers pay attention to bloom times. They use specially cleaned hives. They also have traveling, or migratory, hives that are often on longboats so that the bees can be perfectly positioned to pollinate.
Tupelo Honey Is Rare
Because the bloom time for white gum trees is only around two weeks, the amount of honey crafted each year is limited. Much like the wine-producing regions in France, the weather plays a large factor in how much tupelo is available each year.
According to one of Florida's oldest tupelo honey producers, 2020 was an interesting year for the special honey. Happily, the honey is of high quality but thick and hard to extract. That means this year's crop will be excellent, but there won’t be a lot of it.
There are strict standards to be considered single-varietal tupelo honey
In order for honey to be labeled as "tupelo," it must be honey produced from predominantly tupelo nectar. Because the honey is wild harvested, there are other plants that will be blooming at the same time. The honey bees are attracted to the white gum flowers, but other nectars are bound to be collected as well. In order to be considered a monofloral tupelo honey, the honey must have a tupelo floral content of 51% or higher, although most tupelo honey is much higher than 51%.
It’s in the Ark
The Ark refers to the Ark of Taste, a catalog of delicious and important foods that are facing extinction. The Ark was put together by Slow Food USA, a not-for-profit organization that champions local, seasonal food that is sustainably grown. Over 200 foods are on the list for the USA and tupelo is one.
It Has Great Health Benefits
Tupelo is extolled for its many health benefits. It can help diabetics sweeten their food and boost immune system health. However, that isn't the main reason why we like honey. We like honey for its flavor and tupelo’s is one of the best.