Glossary entry for
tupelo honey

The following is taken from Wewa Public Library Documents & L.L. Lanier & Son, Producers of Certified Tupelo Honey):

Tupelo honey is produced from the Tupelo gum tree which grows profusely along the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers of northwest Florida. Here in the river swamps, this honey is produced in a unique fashion. Bees are placed on elevated platforms along the river's edge, from which, during April and May they fan out through the surrounding Tupelo-blossom-laden swamps and return with their precious treasure. This river valley is the only place in the world where Tupelo Honey is produced commercially.

Real Tupelo honey is light amber in color, light golden with a greenish cast. The flavor is delicious, distinctive, a choice table honey. Good white Tupelo, unmixed with other honeys, will not granulate. Due to the high levulose content, it does not granulate and due to this high levulose, low dextrose ratio, diabetic patients have been permitted by their physicians to eat Tupelo honey. Average analysis: Levulose 44.03%, dextrose 29.98%

Black Tupelo, Ti-Ti, Black-gum, Willow, and several other honey plants bloom in advance of white Tupelo are used to build up bee colony strength and stores. Since these sources produce a less desirable, darker homey, which will granulate, the product is sold as a bakery grade honey. Possibly it is just that or a blend which is a cheaper honey for which the buyer may be paying premium price.

The important point which we wish to make here is that all honey is being labeled Tupelo is not top quality tupelo as the bees make it and as skilled beekeepers produce it. Some honey may be very light in color and could very well have a high percentage of Gall berry. Gall berry blooms right after Tupelo. The honey is attractive, as it is a light white honey, but it is not Tupelo and will soon granulate. Some honey is labeled Tupelo and wild flower. In this case the buyer has no guarantee of just how much real Tupelo he may be getting

Fine Tupelo is more expensive because it cost more to produce this excellent specialty honey. To gain access to the river location there the honey is produced requires expensive labor and equipment. In order to get fine, unmixed Tupelo honey, colonies must be stripped of all stores just as the white Tupelo bloom begins. The bees must have clean combs in which to place the Tupelo honey.

Then the new crop must be removed before it can be mixed with additional honey sources. The timing of these operations is critical and years of experience are needed to produce a fine product that will certify as Tupelo honey.

Tupelo honey features prominently in the 1997 movie Ulee's Gold, starring Peter Fonda.

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