Sourwood Honey: Sweeter than it Sounds
You’ve heard everyone talking about it, and maybe you’ve thought to yourself, “what’s all the fuss about, frankly that doesn’t even sound like something I’d like to try!” But listen to us – Sourwood Honey is worth all the fuss.
Sourwood Honey is a monofloral honey, which means the bees strictly feed on the Sourwood tree, hence the name of North Carolina’s most famous honey. Every August, Black Mountain, North Carolina hosts the Sourwood Festival; in 2015 they will be celebrating their 38th year. The Sourwood Festival celebrates the beautiful Appalachian native Sourwood tree, and the delicious, unparalleled honey. Hundreds of vendors and families attend the festival, which has everything from music and dancing to arts and face painting. Most importantly (to us, at least), local beekeepers attend the festival to sell their praise-worthy Sourwood Honey.
The Sourwood tree is part of the ericaceae family. Sourwood trees can be found across North Carolina and Virginia, as well as in parts of the Midwest, and on the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi. The bark is distinctly scaly, and the trunk narrow and spindly. The Sourwood tree can reach up to 30 feet tall. The leaves are dark green, except for in the fall when they turn to a brilliant shade of red. The Sourwood tree blooms in early summer with fleecy white flowers, that turn into an urn shaped fruit in the fall.
When bees feed on those fleecy white flowers, you get Sourwood Honey. Sourwood Honey has a beautiful straw color, and a buttery caramel taste. The aftertaste of Sourwood Honey can have a slight twang, and has even been likened to gingerbread. The texture is smooth and syrupy. If you haven’t already stopped reading to go and put some Sourwood Honey in your tea or on your toast, here is a recipe from the Old Favorite Honey Recipes cookbook to get you started:
(Requires overnight refrigeration)
¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cake compressed or 1 packet dry granular yeast
½ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups sifted flower
¾ cup water
1 egg, well beaten
½ cup Sourwood Honey
½ cup chopped nuts
Combine warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Sprinkle granular yeast over warm mixture; or crumble compressed yeast over lukewarm mixture. Let stand five minutes.
Combine shortening, ½ cup sugar, and salt. Mix in 1 cup flour and ¾ cup water. Add to yeast mixture and stir in 2 cups flour and egg.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Grease muffin pans, enough for 24 buns. In each cup out 1 teaspoon each honey and nuts. Drop 1 tablespoon of dough in each muffin cup. Let rise in warm place until doubled. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Serve upside down.
Buy Sourwood Honey: http://ashevillebeecharmer.com/shop/honey/sourwood-honey-2/
Asheville Bee Charmer
38 Battery Park Ave
Asheville, North Carolina 28801