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Ask 13: Is there a way to identify sourwood honey?

"How can I tell that the honey I buy is actually sourwood?" Rita Castline wrote Ask 13. "Is there an actual way to distinguish different types of honey?" (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Sourwood honey is found only in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and it's hard to come by. It's also hard to tell when when you're buying the real thing, which may explain why it's one of the most counterfeited types of honey there is.

Sourwood is considered by many the best in the world, which leads to our question.

"How can I tell that the honey I buy is actually sourwood?" Rita Castline wrote Ask 13. "Is there an actual way to distinguish different types of honey?"

Taylor Oglesby, of Asheville Bee Charmer, a shop that's all about the golden sweetner, said color and taste are key.

Sourwood is generally light amber in color. The taste is rich and full, with subtle notes of caramel and anise. But Oglesby said identifying real sourwood honey requires expertise.

"If you can't get it analyzed like we can through Texas A&M or other agricultural professionals, then the color and the taste are what you're going to look for," Oglesby said.

Real sourwood honey is light in color.

"If it's too dark, then it's going to be a lower percentage of sourwood nectar and pollen," Oglesby said.

And of course there's the taste.

"It's a super smooth texture. Really easy to like flavor, almost like a woodsy, buttery, caramel," Oglesby said. "If it doesn't have that distinct flavor, then it's probably more so the percentage of another nectar."

But the best way to be certain is to purchase sourwood from North Carolina-certified honey producers or a shop like Asheville Bee Charmer, which tests the honey for contents. That way you'll know your'e getting what you pay for.

If you have a question you'd like answered, write to Ask13@WLOS.com.

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