What Type of Honey is Best?
We receive this question frequently. There are so many varieties of honey available these days. How do you know what type of honey is best? Well, the answer is not very simple. Choosing the best variety of honey is often a matter of personal preference. However, as a honey connoisseur myself I can give you some pointers and suggestions that will get you started in selecting the best honey.
First, choose a honey that fits your specific use. If you are using a honey for baking you will not need to be as particular as if you are using a honey to pair with your favorite cheese or tea. This is because honey used in cooking has less of an impact on the final product. So knowing how you will use the honey is your first key to selecting the best type of honey.
Here are some tips for pairing honey with foods. Dark honeys are great for cooking and sauces especially barbeque. Dark honeys are robust with flavor and full of antioxidants. Light honeys are great for pairing with cheeses or teas. They have a milder flavor profile so they will not overpower the natural flavor of the cheese or tea. Some examples of dark honeys are Wildflower, Palmetto, and one of the darkest Buckwheat. Light honeys include Orange Blossom, Clover, Mangrove, and Acacia.
Now that you have some background on the intended use of your honey, let’s talk about flavor profiles. Each variety of honey has a different flavor profile and this can change from year to year. However, the general characteristics of each variety will stay the same. For instance, Orange Blossom honey has a noticeable citrus taste to it. It is mild and sweeter than many honeys so it goes great with teas. On the other hand, Wildflower honey is stronger and can have varying overtones of herbal to floral flavor depending on where it was harvested and the plants that were in the area. One of the most interesting flavor profiles is Eucalyptus honey. This honey has a noticeable hint of menthol flavor.
So I still haven’t answered the question. Which variety is best? Well in my experience there are two domestic honeys that stand out from the bunch. They are the Tupelo honey and Sourwood varieties. These two are popular for their distinct characteristics.
Tupelo has a mild flavor and a low natural sugar content. This makes it safer for diabetics and less likely to crystalize. Production of Tupelo honey takes place in North Florida and South Georgia along the Apalachicola and Ochlockonee rivers. Tupelo has a pear-like and hoppy aroma. Fans describe the flavor as delicate, buttery, floral, like cotton candy and rosewater.
Sourwood honey is sought by honey lovers everywhere. It is a rare and exquisite honey. Sourwood is also on the lower end of the spectrum as far as natural sugar content. It is often the winner of food awards and is renowned worldwide as one of the best honeys on the planet. Production of Sourwood honey takes place in the Appalachain Mountains where the Sourwood trees are most abundant. People describe the flavor as being like gingerbread.
Tupelo and Sourwood trees are both found in limited geographical regions. Land development currently endangers both of these trees. Also, both of the honeys made from these trees are difficult to harvest due to the remote locations and short bloom seasons. Because of this the Slowfood Ark of Taste has recognized them as foods facing scarcity.
While there are many types of honey varieties available, there are two that stand out among American honeys. Tupelo and Sourwood honeys are both prized by honey aficionados. They have received international recognition for their quality and limited availability. Finally, they both have unique characteristics that make them the best types of honey available in the world.
Learn more about Tupelo honey in our article “Tupelo Honey Pure Liquid Gold”.
Learn more about Sourwood honey in our article “Sourwood Honey An American Favorite”.
Purchase our Raw Tupelo Honey here.
Purchase our Raw Sourwood Honey here.