Happy New Year! We are really excited about adding Sourwood Honey back to our collection in early 2011 and I just wanted to pass along more information (than you might have ever wanted to know) about Sourwood Honey.
Pretty much all Sourwood honey is made in the upper altitudes of the southern Appalachians- that means north Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. I’ve had Sourwood from Virginia too.
The tree can grow down here in Savannah and in many other places but won’t make any honey (nectar). There has to be a high altitude for the tree to produce the right amount and quality of nectar. The Sourwood tree has long little fingers of white flowerettes and is very pretty. It is also called a Sorrel tree. I think the name Sourwood came from Indians who chewed on the leaf or something and it is obviously not tasty.
Sourwood honey is typically a smoky brown color with a hint of purple. I think of the bottom of a storm cloud. When Sourwood honey is in the frame, there are some cells that are filled with water-white Sourwood nectar. The occasional know-it-all will tell you pure Sourwood is water white. But the VAST majority of Sourwood has some color. Better Sourwood honey has more of a “hint” of color.
Sourwood honey doesn’t sound good but those who are ‘in the know’ with honey seek it out. Sourwood honey is arguably the best honey or one of the best honeys in the world. 2005 and 2009 saw it win the World Honey Show and in 2009 it took the Best in Show prize. Sourwood has a taste that appeals to everyone. I think it is like gingerbread with maple syrup on it. It has lots of flavor, but the flavors seem to be in concert rather than in competition.
Lastly, this crop of Sourwood honey (made in July of 2010- tree starts blooming in late June and can bloom all the way through July) is the best I’ve seen in 3 or 4 years. Last year none was made. The year before was not the best. So, in the history of our store, Sourwood was half the peoples’ favorite honey and the Sourwood we’ve had isn’t nearly as good as this batch is.
We were very lucky to find this honey. Not much was made this year. We have just around or over 5 tons of it. It won’t last us that long and the odds are that there won’t be any made next year.
If you are at a loss of ways to use your Sourwood honey, we’ve got a couple of recipes up on the website in the recipes section.