absolutely delicious - the best honey ever!
Honey from the "Swamp Tree"
Tupelo Honey comes from the green and white blossoms of the white tupelo gum tree (nyssa ogeche). The name "tupelo" is derived from the Creek Indian phrase "ito opilwa" which means "swamp tree." These trees like to have wet feet, and they thrive along rivers and in low lying areas that flood regularly after heavy rains.
Tupelo honey does not flow like sap from a maple tree. This honey is made by bees collecting the nectar of the tree blossoms, and taking it back to the hive where they work their honey making magic. Tupelo blossoms are notoriously fragile, and favorable weather is needed to produce a good crop. In the best years, the season is over in 3 short weeks. In bad years with too much wind and rain, the season may last just a few days.
Collecting Liquid Gold
Beekeepers have been chasing tupelo honey for over 150 years. In the early days, beekeepers would build flat, wooden barges that were then tied to riverbanks. At the beginning of the season, they would bring their beehives to the closest boat landing, and then ferry their hives to the barges. After the tupelo bloom was over, they would retrieve their bee boxes from the barges and take them back to a "honey house" where the honey was extraced from the honeycomb.
Today, barges are rarely used. Instead, beekeepers either own or lease "bee yards" which are located on higher ground within a short distance to the tupelo trees. These bee yards are very valuable pieces of property, and many have been used by the same beekeeing families for generations.
Color and Flavor
Raw and unfiltered tupelo honey is Light Amber in color and has a greenish blush when held up to the light. This comes from the green pollen in the raw honey. Tupelo honey has an amazing flavor profile. It starts with a bright, fruity-floral burst that is amazing. It's a bit like Juicy Fruit gum, but much better. The honey then dissolves easily on the tongue with a buttery and warm finish.
Pure tupelo honey will not crystallize (also called "sugaring"). But pure tupelo is impossible to achieve because bees will always visit other plants that are in bloom at the same time as the tupelo trees. The ratio of tupelo to non-tupelo nectar in the honey will vary from year to year, from location to location and even from beehive to beehive. So if a thin layer of sugar forms at the botttom of the bottle, just place it in some hot water and shake the bottle every few minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
Honestly, tupelo honey goes with just about anything and everything. But you want to make sure the food does not overpower the unique flavor of the honey. So hot biscuits, warm bread, or a steaming bowl of oatmeal are all good choices. Many of our customers will only use tupelo honey for their coffee and tea.
Two of our favorite recipes for tupelo honey are crostini with goat cheese and honey and tupelo honey ice cream. These recipes allow the flavor of the honey to take center stage.
One customer summed up tupelo honey in this way: "There may be honey better than tupelo somewhere on this earth, but we've never found it." With over 1,000 Five Star Reviews, it is clear that tupelo honey is a honey lover's delight.
For more facts about tupelo honey, see: Why is tupelo honey so special?