by Kate Heyhoe
In March 1998, Ulee's Gold, starring Peter Fonda as a beekeeper, was nominated for an Academy Award. In honor of the occasion we present information about the film from the National Honey Board along with several honey recipes.
Heard the buzz about "Ulee's Gold"? In this motion picture from Orion Pictures, Peter Fonda stars as Florida beekeeper Ulee Jackson, who is torn from his comfortable routine in order to save his family, and ultimately, himself. Tupelo honey and honey bees are the supporting actors in this poignant drama. "Ulee's Gold" gives audiences a peek into the work of a beekeeper, from checking beehives to extracting and bottling honey. This extraordinary lifestyle is the backdrop against which Ulee Jackson's story is set.
Fonda's character Ulee is a commercial beekeeper, which means he keeps more than 300 bee colonies and makes his living from selling honey. There are approximately 1,600 commercial beekeepers in the United States, producing about 60 percent of the nation's honey. There are also an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 hobbyist beekeepers, who keep less than 25 hives each. Together with part-time beekeepers (who keep between 25 to 299 hives), they account for about 50 percent of bee colonies and 40 percent of extracted honey in the United States.
Ulee produces tupelo honey, a unique honey made from the nectar of the tupelo gum tree, which grows profusely along the Apalachicola, Choctahatchee and Ochlockonee rivers of northwest Florida. Tupelo honey and other honey varieties have played a role in southern cuisine for many years, according to Elle Barrett, food editor of Southern Living magazine.
"Southerners love honey," says Barrett. "It's drizzled over biscuits and used in glazes for ham. And many southerners' first recollection of honey is a medicinal one—mixed with a bit of bourbon for a cough."
Whether sweet or savory, many traditional southern dishes are sweetened with a touch of honey. Honey Mint Juleps (adapted from Southern Living magazine) and freshly brewed iced tea are both sweetened naturally with honey. Honey Cornmeal Biscuits are light and buttery, the perfect accompaniment to a dish of Southern-Style Honey "Barbecued" Chicken. Honey Whipped Cream is a delightful finishing touch to Devilish Pecan Pie or your favorite fruit pie.
Tupelo honey has a light-amber color with a greenish cast and a delicate yet distinctive flavor. Tupelo honey is one of approximately 300 honey varieties produced in the United States. The flavor and color of honey is determined by the flower or plant blossom that the bees visit. And while clover is the most common source of honey, each region of the United States produces unique honeys, such as:
In general, lighter-colored honeys are milder in flavor while darker-colored honeys have a more robust flavor. Check your favorite grocery store or contact a local beekeeper/honey packer for different varieties of honey.
With the release of "Ulee's Gold," honey is sure to be on everyone's lips. So try a new variety of honey or one of these southern dishes. They're sure to have your family buzzing for more!
Information provided by the National Honey Board.
Makes 14 servings
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups mint leaves
1 cup honey
3-1/2 cup bourbon
Mint sprigs, for garnish
In small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add mint leaves; stir until wilted. Add honey; stir until dissolved. Let mixture stand until cool; strain and discard mint. For each julep, combine 1/4 cup bourbon with 2 Tbsp. honey mint syrup. Pour bourbon mixture over crushed ice in frosted tumbler or tall glass. Garnish with mint sprigs.
Nutrients Per Serving
Protein: 0.07 G
Carbohydrates: 19.9 G
Dietary Fiber: 0.04 G
Fat Total: 0 G
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 1.53 mg
Calories from Fat: 0%
Recipe reprinted by permission of Southern Living, Inc.
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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