Did you know there are more than 300 different types of honey in the United States?
Of those, about a dozen of them are found in the Sunshine State and we will focus on the five most popular. Utilizing our fertile, warm and sunny climate, Florida bee’s proudly produce these types of honey:
- Orange Blossom
- Saw Palmetto
You might have Van Morrison’s song, “Tupelo Honey” running through your head right now and that’s OK! Tupelo honey is very special and can only be found in certain areas of Southeastern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. The Ogeechee tupelo trees in this area bloom for two short weeks in the spring and they love the damp, humid, murky swamps. Tupelo honey will actually have a light green hint – especially right off the comb.
Some interesting facts about tupelo honey include:
- Tupelo honey does not granulate.
- Tupelo honey has a high fructose content.
- Tupelo honey has a low sucrose content (some diabetics can tolerate it).
- Tupelo honey has to be at least 51 percent tupelo to be labeled as such. Beekeepers in Northwest Florida send their honey out to be analyzed and its contents certified.
- Tupelo honey does not get heated; it’s honey in its raw state. You will see black flecks in the honey, evidence of all that hard work and pollen the bees have put into the product. (Note: Children under the age of 1 should not consume honey.)
Orange Blossom Honey
Also known as “Sunshine in a Bottle,” orange blossom honey is considered Florida’s most common honey. Orange blossom honey does indeed smell like oranges and citrus, although the aroma is a mild and delicate one. If you wait a while before eating the honey, its aroma and “honey taste” will take on added complexity. Orange blossom is a fruity and sweet honey, but only has light citrus overtones rather than a strong orange flavor. It’s also rather acidic. Florida honey with an orange blossom pollen count of 20% or more can be sold as “orange blossom honey,” but if there’s a lower concentration it must be sold as “citrus honey” instead.
The many antioxidants contained in this honey include hesperitin, quercetin, luteolin and galangin; they work to support the immune system and fight the effects of free radicals that, over time, damage the body’s important organs and cause chronic illnesses. As for anti-bacterial power, studies have shown that orange blossom honey is effective against some of the most serious bacterial pathogens, like E. Coli and a number of staph bacteria.
Wildflower honey isn’t limited to just one location and can instead be found throughout the state. It has a tangier taste then most of the other types of honey on the market and usually is harvested four times a year and it comes in different colors. Wildflower is often sought after for more than just the taste though, as it is believed to suppress pollen related allergies because of the pollen content of different flowers that bees collect around the beehive.
The specific wildflowers the bees pollinate depend on the season and the fruits and trees that are in the area. Different times of the year will bring a variety of colors, tastes and flavor profiles.
Spring Wildflower honey may include nectar from avocado, bottle brush, mango, coconut palm, Mexican clover, Spanish needle, primrose willow, porter weed and oak blossoms. These nectars all blend to a sweet velvety delight.
Summer Wildflower honey is harvested from bees who have pollinated southern magnolia, mangrove, the sabal, coconut and queen palms, powder puff blossoms and Spanish needle.
Autumn Wildflower, derived mostly from the Brazilian pepper blossoms, is golden amber with a slight spicy finish. Brazilian Pepper Honey comes from a plant native to Brazil which has invaded Florida as a noxious tree. In Hawaii, the same plant is known as the Christmas Berry.
This plant produces the pink peppercorns that you see in gourmet pepper mills. The honey, on the other hand, has a mild taste akin to sweet potatoes. This is a great honey to use in recipes!
Saw Palmetto Honey
Saw Palmetto is a bush or a small tree with a sprawling horizontal trunk and a round crown of large, fan shaped leaves. The most shocking part of this honey variety is that:
It takes 100 years for this palm to grow big enough for honey bees to start the honey-making process. The pollen is plenty but the nectar is not so much, so this honey is produced in very small quantities. Real saw palmetto honey comes strictly from Florida.
Saw Palmetto is the oldest known honey within Florida, believed to have been used by Native Americans years ago. Saw Palmetto has a very rich fruity caramel taste. It is also one of the harder types of honey to find on the market. This rarity means that it is also going to be one of the most expensive as well.
Gallberry honey is sourced from a small evergreen holly bush (also known as inkberry) that grows along the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast and produces a unique honey that is popular throughout the piney woods and swamps of southeast Florida.
For a very short window of time every spring, from late April to early June, the bush blossoms with white flowers that drip nectar, providing beekeepers' with their only opportunity to make the amber colored honey. Ideal production, according to beekeepers, occurs when the gallberry bush has "feet in water, head in sunshine." As with any pure, single varietal honey, producing Gallberry honey takes the patience of an experienced artisan beekeeper because the bees must not be allowed to harvest nectar from any other flowering plant.
It is desirable for the rich, elegant taste and is prized for its honeycomb. Its flavor is thick and aromatic, a perfect table honey, and also recommended for baking. Gallberry honey is known for its lack of granulation.
All of the honey that comes from Florida has individual properties that make it special to our state. Florida honey is available year round and changes with the seasons. Florida honey makes a great gift! A jar of Florida honey is great to add to a gift basket, house-warming gift, hostess gift, etc. Haven’t been able to see your senior friends lately? Send them a jar of old fashioned honey and follow up with a phone call about the good old days. Know someone who isn’t feeling well? A jar of honey to mix with a cup a tea always says you care. Look for new and exciting Florida honey products with us.