Updated: May 11
Did you know that each region around North American produces honey that taste very different? Also, did you know that specific areas of the country make some of the most delicious honey in the world?
WHAT MAKES HONEY TASTE DIFFERENT?
The flavor of honey can be a simple elegant flavor or a deep, rich complex flavor, or somewhere in between. The flavor of your jar of honey is entirely dependent on what nectar sources are available at the time. Beekeepers can also move honeybees to a location at a specific time of year to ensure that the honeybees can make a specific type of honey with certain type of honey. An example of this is when Hilltop Honey loads up their honeybees early in the morning in first days of July and drive them to a location in Western North Carolina. This Blue Ridge Mountain spot is the perfect place because of the sheer number of Sourwood Trees. The honeybees stay in that one spot for 6 weeks to ensure the best chances of making Sourwood Honey.
The Sourwood Tree only blooms in the middle of summer and only for a short period of time. It seems to have great bloom years every 2-3 years; some years can be dismal for products of Sourwood Honey. Great blooming years can be met with a rainy season that prevents the honeybees from being able to store average amounts during the season. These are part of the reasons that Sourwood Honey is a more expensive honey variety. Also, it is one of the most delicious honey varieties with a gourmet flavor, which is why beekeepers are really willing to go through the trouble. The same happens for other varieties of honey with unique flavors.
Gourmet Honey Vareities
There are even songs about gourmet honey varieties, "Kisses Sweeter than Tupelo Honey" is from a song from Tim McGraw, titled Southern Girl. Tupelo Honey has an incredible flavor,
with a soft warm buttery flavor. Like Sourwood Honey, there is a very short window and it is made from the Tupelo Tree in just two areas in the Southeastern United States. The Tupelo tree can be found in a swamp environment and often beekeepers have to put their hives on barges and get them towed into the swamp. Orange Blossom Honey, Blueberry Blossom Honey, Raspberry Blossom Honey, Eucalyptus Honey from California, and Kiawe Honey from Hawaii are some of the top honey varieties. We get asked lots of questions about using different types of honeys in different ways and how do you know the difference.
Using Honey in Baking
Just like there are some areas of the United States that produce great tasting, wonderful flavored varieties of honey, there are also some areas of the country that produce some great backing honey varieties. Nectar sources can come in all different flavors, some are sweet and other are bitter. There are different colors of honey, some of clear as glass and others are dark like molasses. Typically, something like Live Oak Honey from Coastal South Carolina will have a tart flavor is a deep dark color. These characteristics are telling signs that this honey is great for baking.
Chocolate Cherry Flavored Honey?
Yes, there is a small region in South Carolina's Jocassee Gorge that forms Lake Jocassee. This area is home to a rare flower called the Oconee Bell, it is a delicate
bell-shaped wildflower. Recently discovered is another rare flower named Shealy's Saxifrage, after a South Carolina Botanist. It’s white in color with yellow and red accents and can be found along the edges of slopping granite outcroppings, moss mats or in crevices. Blooms from February to May. This is a robust, rich and complex cherry colored honey that has a warm, bold, and forward flavor that has undertones of chocolate and cherry with a hint of tartness. This honey is a great addition to oatmeal, glazed meat, peanut butter and honey sandwich, or on a charcuterie board with a bold flavor cheese. Check out our South Carolina Foothills Wildflower Honey.