Tuesday, November 16, 2010

tupelo gold

Occasionally I like to share interesting little tidbits of information that I stumble upon. It's my earnest attempt to diverge from my otherwise self-indulgent entries; the ones that seem to center upon food, my ongoing weight obsession or objects of desire (but now that I think about it, this is about both food and an object of desire AND it could be about weight obsession too . . . so perhaps I've once again failed here . . . ). Last week I had lunch with a friend who shared his new hobby as a bee-keeper with me. It reminded me of a movie I saw many years ago starring Peter Fonda, entitled "Ulee's Gold." Ulee's Gold referred to the Tupelo Honey he harvested as a bee-keeper in the south. Tupelo honey is yet another of those culinary delights that is produced in limited quantities due to geographical constraints (like Chuao Chocolate). If you're not familiar with Tupelo Honey, I've taken the liberty of reprinting some of the information taken directly from the product page of L.L. Lanier and Son's Tupelo Honey website (http://www.lltupelohoney.com/). Perhaps they will forgive me for quoting from their site if this results in purchases from you. I can attest that Tupelo honey is a special product that merits tasting.

Their information follows:
"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, and they fan out through the surrounding Tupelo-blossom-laden swamps during April and May 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 a light golden amber color with a greenish cast. The flavor is delicious, delicate and distinctive; a choice table grade honey. Good white tupelo, unmixed with other honeys, will not granulate, and due to this high fructose low glucose ration, some diabetic patients have been permitted by their physicians to eat Tupelo Honey.

Black tupelo, ti-ti, black gum, willow and severl other honey plants bloom in advance of white tupelo and are used to build up colony strength and stores. Since these sources produce a less desirable, darker honey, which will granulate, the product is sold as bakery honey. Possibly it is just that or a blend which is a cheaper honey for which the buyer may be paying a premium price.
The important point which we wish to make here is that all honey that is being labeled Tupelo is not top quality Tupelo Honey 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. It is attractive, as it is a light white honey, but it is not Tupelo and will soon granulate. Some honey is labeled Tupelo and wildflower. 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 costs more to produce this excellent specialty honey. To gain access to the river locations where 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 are critical and years of experience are needed to produce a fine product that will certify as Tupelo Honey.

Nutrition Facts
The black particles on the top of the honey jar are beeswax and pollen. This occurs because the honey is not heated or processed; it's in its natural state the way honey should be. When honey is heated and processed it takes all the living enzymes, nutrients and pollen out of the honey; therefore, creating just another sugar not a nutritious product. Honey in its natural state is a health food. Tupelo Honey is made primarily of fructose sugar which has been called the queen of sugars. The reason being is that it's the easiest sugar for the body to use and absorb. It does not tax the body or its digestive system like white cane or granulated sugar. Honey should be kept at room temperature with a tightly closed lid. The only thing that will make the honey go bad is moisture, so keep the lid on tight. In addition to its sugars, honey contains as its minor components a consdierable number of mineral constituents, seven members of the B-vitamin complex, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), dextirn's, plant pigments, amino acids and other organic acids, traces of protein, esters and other aromatic compounds, and several enzymes."

Also (and this is me again), most store bought honeys are laced with corn syrup. In fact, some "honeys" are primarily corn syrup, so buyer beware.

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