America’s most expensive honey comes from slimy southern swamps. The amazing Tupelo honey is a premium American honey that’s amber golden in color with a slight green tint.
The first taste from tupelo honey is cinnamon with a trace of anise. It’s mild and sweet with a fruity, pear-like aroma and a smooth, soft buttery finish. You can almost taste the forest and sweetness of the swamp.
Tupelo Honey Pairings
Tupelo honey pairs especially well with strong cheeses, chicken, salmon, fresh fruit, vegetables, teas, coffee, pastries and breads.
The Home of Tupelo
The famous amazing tupelo honey is produced where the water-loving “white gum” tupelo trees grow. Tupelo honey’s predominant production is in the Gulf Coast region in the southeastern United States (see map above). The purest tupelo honey harvested is on the Apalachicola River located in Florida and in South Georgia along the Savannah River basin. Tupelo honey is not from Tupelo, Mississippi!
White Gum Tupelo Trees
White gum tupelo trees are the source of the mono-floral tupelo honey. A strong crop will yield a tupelo purity ranging from eighty to nearly 100%.
The amazing tupelo honey comes from the extremely fragile green and white blossoms of the white gum tupelo tree. The sprawling tupelo tree grows up to 49 feet, however, the wood is of little value – as it is soft and light, yet not strong. These trees love an acidic soil and water. For that reason, they are found mostly along creeks and waters of low-lying areas that flood in the spring and winter.
White gum trees reside in swamps and wetlands, creating unique challenges for beekeepers. Tupelo honey harvesting is labor-intensive and typically under stressful conditions. To optimize harvests, these conditions require beekeepers to have special equipment, carefully placed beehives and execute precise timing. Their fastidiousness ensures a pure harvest, however, it does not guarantee a high annual production. During the tupelo harvest season, skilled beekeepers manage the honeybees continually from nearby areas or boats.
The Tupelo Flowers
There are male and female trees, but only the male trees have stamen flowers which produce nectar for the honey bees. These creamy white flowers can bloom from late March up to early May after new leaves are fully grown. Growing season is usually between two and three weeks.
Lower Glycemic Index
Glycemic Index (GI) is a numerical scale which is used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level. A food with a low GI will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while foods with a high GI may cause our blood glucose level to spike above the optimal level.
The amazing tupelo honey honey has a high fructose content and a low glucose content. For this reason, it’s components give it a lower glycemic index GI. Tupelo is also slow to crystalize due to its high fructose and low glucose and sucrose content.
A tupelo analysis shows its average fructose at 44% with its glucose at 30%. Tupelo honey’s lower GI of 54% is considered diabetic friendly. Consider the GI of raw sugar at 65% while the GI of pure glucose at 100.
Things You May Not Know About Tupelo Honey…
During the tupelo bloom, some beekeepers keep their beehives along the river swamps on platforms (a few still use floats). This protects the hives in case of flooding.
Before the tupelo harvest, the hives must be stripped of any other honey collected. Beekeepers must then place new boxes of empty combs so the incoming nectar will be kept separate from other honeys.
Tupelo honey normally has a very short harvest season of two to three weeks, or even less, depending on weather conditions. Because of this, the amount of honey harvested is highly weather dependent and can create large annual production and price swings.
When the blooming season ends, tupelo honey must be immediately collected.
Hurricanes, blights and encroaching development have cut into the tupelo harvests in Florida and Georgia. Nevertheless, a relatively small cadre of beekeepers still fiercely pursue this lucrative prize.
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