Tupelo honey isn't just the name of a famous 1971 Van Morrison song covered by numerous musicians over the decades. Morrison named his iconic tune after a remarkable and rare type of honey with origins in the Southeastern United States. While it is more expensive than other types of honey, the distinct characteristics of tupelo honey make it well worth the cost. Here are some fascinating facts about the honey prized by foodies worldwide.
The Origins of Tupelo Honey
Only one tree species produces the blossoms that lead to the production of tupelo honey from honeybees: the tupelo gum tree (Nyssa ogeche). The name comes from a Creek Indian language.
The rarity of the honey also comes from the fact that the tupelo gum primarily grows near the southern region of the Apalachicola River Basin in South Georgia and the Florida panhandle. Other names for the tree include white tupelo, ogeechee lime, and river lime. The water-loving tree thrives in shallow swamp areas along the Apalachicola River and produces edible fruit.
Characteristics of Tupelo Honey
A slight green hue gives tupelo honey a distinct appearance from other types of honey. It has a unique floral spice fragrance with hints of a cinnamon aroma and additional faint spicy notes. Tupelo honey has a buttery sweetness and earthy taste. These characteristics are some of the reasons why some locals also call the honey southern gold.
Where to Get Tupelo Honey
Because the tupelo gum tree grows in water, beekeepers put in a lot of labor to harvest the honey, building hives on platforms in swamp water. This adds to the factors that make tupelo honey a prized delicacy. While it's easiest to get the honey if you're actually in Florida or Georgia, some companies also ship it. However, ensure that the seller you choose to purchase honey from is reputable and only sells tupelo honey certified for its purity. Also, make sure that it hasn't been mixed with other kinds of honey.
Storing and Consuming Southern Gold
Unlike other types of honey that can crystallize within a few months, tupelo honey stays liquid for years. However, chilling the honey can hasten the crystallization process. Even crystallized, like other kinds of honey, it is safe to consume. In order to preserve the flavor of the honey, store tupelo honey at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.
There are so many ways to consume tupelo honey, from eating it raw to adding it to foods like ice cream, honey-cooked meats, and of course, tea. Whatever way you choose to eat tupelo honey, you'll notice the unique qualities that make it stand apart from other kinds of honey.
If you want to try tupelo honey, reach out to a supplier.