You probably know that Savannah Bee produces and sells some of the very best honey in the world. You also probably know that we carry many different honey types or varieties. But, you might not know all the unique distinguishing characteristics of each Savannah Bee honey variety. You also may not know where these honey varieties originate. This series of two posts is intended to serve as a quick reference guide for all of our honey varieties.
Before we take a closer look at each honey, I would like to give you a little background in terminology so the honey descriptions are a little easier to understand. To begin, the world of honey can be divided into two unique hemispheres; monofloral honey and polyfloral honey. You may also hear monofloral honey varieties referred to as single varietal honey or simply varietal honeys. Polyfloral honey varieties are commonly known as wildflower honeys.Sometimes a honey crafter may blend two or more honey varieties together to produce a number of desired characteristics ranging from bouquet to color or texture (mouthfeel). This type of honey in known as a blended honey. So, now that you have some basic honey terminology, let's take a closer look at the Savannah Bee monofloral honey varieties.
Monofloral Honey Varieties
Tupelo honey is a monofloral honey produced in Florida and Georgia. Tupelo honey comes from an ecosystem known as the Cypress Swamp. In fact, locals to the region sometimes refer to Tupelo honey as Swamp honey. Tupelo honey is our best-selling honey variety. We lovingly refer to it as the Queen Bee of all honeys, or sometimes simply, liquid gold. Our Tupelo honey is a product of the nectar of the White Gum Tupelo tree (Nyssa Ogeche). The production region for pure Tupelo honey is very limited. Extensive stands of these trees grow only in the Apalachicola river basin in western Florida around 60 miles southwest of Tallahassee and in the Okefenokee swamp region on the border of Georgia and Florida.
Tupelo honey is incredibly rich and buttery in flavor. Raw Tupelo honey is golden in color and displays medium clarity. This honey is relatively thick in consistency and texture. The bouquet is definitely floral bordering on flowery. Tupelo honey is very slow to crystallize because of its unique sugar composition. It is the glucose content in honey that encourages crystallization. Tupelo honey has a low glucose composition compared to other honey varieties.
Sourwood honey is a monofloral honey that is most commonly associated with the entire Appalachian region of North America. Sourwood honey is the product of the nectar produced by Sourwood trees. The highest concentration of Sourwood trees in the world can be found in the Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. On occasion, you may hear Sourwood honey is referred to as Mountain honey. Our Sourwood honey comes from the southern Appalachian mountains in north Georgia, near the southern Appalachian Trail trailhead.
Sourwood honey is not sour, it is bold and complex and carries notes of spice and sometimes maple. One of the unique things about Sourwood honey is that its flavor and color change as it ages. When Sourwood honey is harvested, it is light amber in color and on good years it will have a beautiful lavender hue when viewed through the light. As it ages the color will deepen becoming a dark amber. The flavor matures as well. As time passes, the maple tones are accentuated and the honey takes on an earthy essence abandoning its original light, spicy, sweetness. Spooning aged Sourwood honey over a steaming hot stack of pancakes would be a very good idea! Like Tupelo honey, pure Sourwood has a relatively low glucose content and is very slow to crystallize.
Orange Blossom Honey
Orange Blossom honey is a monofloral honey. In the south, Orange Blossom honey is typically associated with the state of Florida. However, it is also produced in Texas, Arizona, and California. In addition, Brazil is well known for producing some of the world's finest Orange Blossom honey. The Orange Blossom honey we sell at Savannah Bee is a product of Florida. As you might guess, Orange Blossom honey is a product of the nectar produced by Orange trees. The beehives are actually placed in the middle of the orange groves at the end of winter. A late frost during the bloom cycle can completely wipe out the Orange Blossom honey harvest.
Orange Blossom honey is a very sweet honey with a candy-like flavor. If you have a very discerning palate, you may be able to detect hints of citrus in the background of this honey's flavor. Orange Blossom honey can range between light amber and amber in color and as you might expect will often display an orange hue when viewed in bright light or sunshine. Orange blossom honey will typically have great clarity. I love to bake with Orange Blossom honey or use it as a substitute for processed sugar. Orange Blossom honey has a high glucose composition and will tend to crystallize over shorter periods of time, especially if it is stored in a cool place.
In an ideal world, Palmetto honey is a monofloral honey. The problem is, the Sable palmetto flowers in June amid an incredibly dense coastal forest understory that includes many other flowering plants. As a result, pure monofloral Palmetto honey is hard to acquire. Many holly species (gallberry in particular) flower during the same time in this crowded ecosystem. Honeybees collect nectar from many sources which are often turned into honey in the same hives as the Palmetto nectar. Gallberry pollen will frequently show up in Palmetto honey testing results. However, when you do come across a pure Palmetto honey it really is something else! Palmetto honey is produced in coastal areas from northern South Carolina to Florida.
Palmetto honey is rivaled only by Manuka honey in terms of nutritional profile. It is one of the most beneficial and health promoting honey varieties in the world. Palmetto honey is packed full of antioxidants and vitamins. Palmetto honey will range from amber to dark amber in color and displays good clarity. It is the flavor that really sets Palmetto honey apart from other honey varieties. Palmetto honey is very nutty with just a tinge of smoke. Palmetto honey is almost savory and is perfect for marinades and dressings. This is definitely no ordinary honey!
Acacia honey is a monofloral honey. Most of the planet's Acacia honey is produced in Europe, primarily in Italy and the Eastern countries of Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine. Here at Savannah Bee, we have Acacia producing beekeepers in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and in Hungary. It is important for us to work with beekeepers in two different regions to ensure good supply in the event of inclement regional weather. Regardless of the country of origin, Acacia honey is one of the most fantastic honey varieties in the world!
Although very sweet, Acacia honey has a relatively low glucose content and will resist crystallization. This honey is absolutely unique in both color and flavor. The flavor is so light and so sweet. You will immediately pick up on notes of pure vanilla. Sometimes I can even find these wonderful notes of cotton candy or cream soda. Acacia honey can range from white (meaning clear) to extra light amber in color. In fact, Acacia honey is sometimes referred to as Moon honey or Water honey because of its ultra-light color. Acacia honey also has great clarity. You could actually read a newspaper through Acacia honey!
Lavender honey is a monofloral honey. Spain and France are the primary Lavender honey producing countries. This honey can be obtained by two different methods primarily related to the region and how the Lavender (Lavandula) grows. In many parts of France, Lavender is cultivated, large-scale, on farms. The beehives are simply placed directly in the Lavender fields during the bloom cycle and Lavender honey is produced. In Spain, much of the Lavender honey harvested is produced in remote wilderness areas. These wild stands of Lavender cover the foothills in some parts of Spain. The beekeepers will transport their beehives into the hills and often camp with their hives during the bloom. Savannah Bee sells Lavender honey collected in Spain.
Lavender honey does not taste or smell anything like the essential oil that has recently gained consumer popularity and can be found in a wide variety of household products. The bouquet of Lavender honey is strikingly sweet, powerful, and floral. The flavor is also sweet but also holds distinct fruity and woody notes. Lavender honey is a beautiful golden honey. It is rather thick and has a nice texture. Typically, this honey variety has medium to poor clarity, sometimes appearing cloudy. Lavender honey does contain a fair amount of glucose and will move toward crystallization over time.
Rosemary honey is a monofloral honey. Savannah Bee Rosemary honey comes from southwestern Spain. Wild rosemary plants cover this rugged, hilly region. The climate in this part of Spain is arid and the soils resemble those of the desert southwest here in the United States. Beekeepers transport their hives into these hills each spring to collect this special honey. These wild Rosemary plants are cousins of the domesticated Rosemary you commonly find in gardens or as landscaping features in many neighborhoods.
Rosemary honey can range from light amber to amber in color and has nice clarity. This honey has a unique flavor profile, it is very layered and complex. The desert soils of the region contribute a mineral quality to the honey and the nectar itself delivers a strikingly herbaceous zing. The flavor of this honey makes it ideal for cooking. If you have one taste of this honey, you will most certainly need a second taste because it is just too complex to decipher in one bite. Rosemary honey is a darkhorse variety with a cult following of honey aficionados!
Check back next week for our polyfloral honey round-up. Until then, bee good and eat your honey!