Palmetto honey is an elusive gourmet honey treat prominent in Florida and other southeastern parts of the United States.
If you frequent the Southeastern United States, you’ll definitely notice clusters of little palm trees lining up the coastal roads. These trees are palmettos and you cannot miss them with their saw-toothed leaves. Local residents are proud of these trees as a source of healthy produce. And it includes saw palmetto honey.
An ancient delicacy for the natives of Florida, honey from palmetto is a true gem of honeys.
The Palmetto Plant
Out of the many species of palmetto trees, the Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is one that could produce honey.
Topping the tree are large, fan-shaped leaves with sharp saw-tooth edges, hence, the name. They are most common along the South Atlantic and Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Annually, saw palmetto produces a brown fruit about the size of an olive and completed with a pit. This fruit serves many animal species as a delectable food source.
A good source of fatty acids and phytosterols, this berry is in high demand as a supplement and tea for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia. Many people since ancient days ground and use the palmetto berry’s seeds for a wide array of alternative medicines.
Besides all that, honeybees make saw palmetto honey from this tiny palm.
Production of Palmetto Honey
April to July brings the saw palmetto in the blooming season. During this time, bees gather nectar from the palmetto blossoms. Then, these industrious creatures start to craft them to become honey.
With the nectar, the bees tirelessly fan their wings to dehydrate this golden liquid. This process reduces the moisture content of the nectars from 80% to 17%, turning it into honey.
Saw palmetto honey is rarely available beyond the borders of Florida and its neighboring states. The honeys that beekeepers gather from palmetto are usually saved exclusively for themselves or close friends.
Notably, honey enthusiasts believe that this special honey is the first honey ever produced in the Sunshine State. At present, Florida is the main producer of this honey varietal.
Qualities of Palmetto Honey
What does saw palmetto honey taste like?
What makes honey from palmetto distinct is its full-bodied taste with a rich boldness. Its smoky, salty flavor is sweet and robust at the same time. It has a fruity and citrusy taste with caramel and woody overtones. Its taste is complementary to most other flavors and not overpowering.
Characteristically, it is a gourmet honey that has a deep amber color and luscious aroma.
Because of its high fructose content, there is a smaller amount of glucose that can disintegrate from the solution. Hence, this honey variety is slow to crystallize compared to other types of honey. Hence, it will stay on the shelf for quite some time without becoming solid.
Uses of Palmetto Honey
The best pairing for palmetto honey is as a sweetener. A spoonful of this in traditional sweet tea is the perfect companion for a hot summer’s day. Also, it blends well with strong hot teas and is delectable with coffee.
It is an ideal ingredient to homebrew beer or mead or to concoct your signature drink like bourbon.
If you mix this honey with spicy mustard, it makes a wonderful glaze for roasted or grilled meat. This honey’s complexity makes a great complement to cooked or cured meats such as ham, prosciutto, pancetta, turkey, and sausage.
Like other honeys, you will love it on biscuits, pastries, tarts, or as a glaze when baking.
The bold flavor of this honey varietal is a terrific match for salty, hard cheeses and palatable when used in salad dressings.
Health Benefits of Palmetto Honey
A favorite among beekeepers worldwide, palmetto honey boasts numerous health benefits. Many even compare it with the revered Manuka honey as to nutritional and medicinal value.
Homeopathic practitioners who believe that saw palmetto extract helps men with prostate issues also claim that palmetto honey can be advantageous in the same way. No scientific evidence has yet been able to back that up, but there is no harm in trying.
Raw saw palmetto honey has elevated levels of antioxidants, anti-bacterial, and antimicrobial properties. These help the body fight bacterial infections and treat wounds. The antioxidants also combat the effects of dangerous free radicals associated with serious illnesses like heart diseases and even cancer.
This honey has lots of phytonutrients, vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids. All these improve the urinary system and digestive system, fight against gastrointestinal ailments, and boost the immune system.
Why Saw Palmetto Honey Is So Rare
Primarily, saw palmetto honey is scarce since its source trees only thrive in a relatively small area of America. Florida’s landscape was once filled with the tropical saw palmetto. However, with urban development, the saw palmetto plant is slowly disappearing.
Also, it takes a long time for the plant to grow and produce buds from where nectar may be gathered. And those that do blossom only produce limited nectar and produce honey in very small quantities.
To sum it up, it takes an army of bees and plenty of mature trees to produce enough of this honey. Therefore, beekeepers have to be very patient if they want to offer this gourmet honey.
The best place to find pure palmetto honey is still in local stores in Florida.
Delicious Hidden Treasure
A gourmet honey, palmetto honey offers more than its unique flavor but also all of its impressive benefits.
It is thought of as one of the hidden treasures of Florida and a rare traditional delicacy. Many international connoisseurs and honey fans covet this rare treat, and you are lucky if you have ever tried one.