what is tupelo honey?
Tupelo honey is a rare and highly prized honey variety. According to the National Honey Board, there are over 300 unique honey varieties in the United States. Many of these varieties have a wonderful aroma and taste. But a few of them are simply the best, with flavors that will cause your taste buds to stand up and shout: "Give me some more of that, please!" Tupelo honey is in this latter category.
Tupelo honey comes from the green and white blossoms of the white tupelo gum tree. These trees are native to the United States and are found through sections of the American southeast. But the highest concentrations of these special trees are found in the Florida Panhandle, within the Apalachicola and Chipola river systems, and also in the Altamaha river basin of Georgia.
Fresh tupelo honey is light amber in color, and it has a greenish cast when held up to the light. This green tint comes from the tupelo pollen that is present in raw tupelo honey. It has a warm floral fragrance and a soft, buttery mouth feel.
what does tupelo honey taste like?
What else do people say about tupelo honey?
Some of the customer comments about tupelo honey that we have received over the years include:
- "There may be better honey than your tupelo somewhere on this earth, but we've never found it."
- "I tasted this honey from someone who thinks it is food from the gods and - Wow! He was right."
- "I just got my first taste of tupelo honey. Now I know what the buzz is all about."
And this rather succinct review comes to us with surprising regularity: "Best honey I've ever had."
Good quality tupelo honey will not sugar
Honey is a super-saturated sugar solution and many varieties of raw and unfiltered honey will crystallize over time. This is also called "sugaring." Sugaring is a natural process. The honey has not gone bad, it has simply changed form and it can be re-liquified by gently warming the honey. But tupelo honey is different. Because it has a higher concentration of fructose sugars, it resists sugaring. And if sugar crystals do form at the bottom of the container, that means the bees brought in nectar from other plants that were blooming at the same time as the tupelo trees. These non-tupelo nectars were mixed into the honey by the bees, and it is these other sources that are responsible for the sugaring.
where does tupelo honey come from?
A while back, a customer asked us how we could call our product 'Tupelo Honey' when we were not located in Tupelo, Mississippi (we are in Wewahitchka, Florida). The short answer is that tupelo honey comes from the tupelo tree and not from the city where Elvis was born. Some other names for this special tree include ogeeche lime, river lime, white tupelo, white gum or bee tupelo. It is a type of fruit tree that produces a small, hard lime in late summer.
Tupelo trees like to have wet feet and they grow best along rivers, in wetlands, and in low lying areas that flood regularly after heavy rains. But these wetlands cannot hold stagnant water; there must be at least some movement of the water to keep it fresh and flowing around the base of the trees.
The name "tupelo" is derived from a Native American phrase ("ito opilwa") that means "swamp tree."
Is tupelo honey expensive?
Because of its bright and mesmerizing flavor, and because it resists sugaring, raw tupelo honey has a devoted following among honey lovers. But this highly prized honey is not easy to make. The tupelo trees can be hard to access. In past times, beekeepers would build flat barges and tie them up to riverbanks. They would then ferry their beehives from the closest boat landing to the barges. Imagine loading and unloading heavy wooden boxes full of honey and bees while balancing on a rocking boat. Today, most beekeepers have access to property on higher ground, located within short distance from the tupelo trees. Also limiting production is the fact that the tupelo blossoms last just 3 short weeks. During these 3 weeks, the weather must be mild and calm to produce a good honey crop. Too much wind and rain can ruin the tupelo honey season. When you combine a strong demand for the honey with an unpredictable annual supply, it means that the price for tupelo honey can be higher than other varieties. But those who have tasted and fallen in love with this special honey know that it is worth every penny.
Can i find tupelo honey near me?
If you happen to live in one of the few areas of Florida and Georgia where this honey is made, then you can probably find it in your local grocery store. But for the rest of us, there are several companies that sell it online. At Smiley Honey, we like to think we have some of the best quality and reasonably priced tupelo honey that you can find anywhere. The tupelo content of our honey will vary from year to year, location to location and even from beehive to beehive. While our regular tupelo honey is really good stuff, we sometimes get a drum or two of tupelo honey that is even lighter in color and more intense in flavor when compared to the norm. This special stuff gets bottled and labeled as our Premium Tupelo Honey and it is exceptionally fine honey.