Friday, September 18, 2015

Hickory Syrup

This is the trunk of a Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) tree.  About a week ago, a friend, who owns this alpaca farm mentioned to me that you can make "hickory syrup."  I had never heard of it, and was intrigued, so of course I looked online and found the instructions to make some on Dave's Cupboard blog.

My husband and I went out to Crosley Fish and Wildlife Area , found a nice Shagbark Hickory tree, and gathered a small box of loose bark.
This morning I weighed out 1/2 pound of the bark and scrubbed it with a stiff brush under cold running water and then laid it on my perforated pizza pan, placed it in the oven, pre-heated to 350 F, and toasted it for 12 minutes.  Dave says to do it for 10 or 15 minutes, but to be careful it doesn't start to burn.  You don't want your syrup to be bitter. Here it is in the oven toasting.
Next, I put it in a soup pot, covered it with water, brought it to a boil and then simmered it for 25 minutes.  It turns the water a beautiful amber color.
Next I removed the bark and then continued to simmer the tea until it was reduced by about 25%.  Then I strained it into a Pyrex measuring container (there were 3.5 cups of tea) and put it in a large sauce pan and added twice the amount of tea, in cane sugar, so that means I added 7 cups of sugar. DO NOT STIR IN THE SUGAR.  Just pour it in there and bring it all to a boil.  NEVER stir it.  This can cause it to crystalize much sooner.  When you pour the sugar into the tea, do not get it on the sides of the pan.  Pour it carefully into the bottom. Ok? Next bring it all to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer it until it is as thick as you like.
I used a candy thermometer, and mine was just over 220 F when I decided it was done enough.  I kept checking it with a spoon.  It's kind of a judgement call, actually.

I skimmed off the foamy stuff and tasted it.  That part was very bitter, but the syrup is not bitter.  Interesting.  When it was ready, I carefully ladled it into jars and put on clean lids.  It is cooling now.
The aroma of the bark toasting was wonderful... like a spicy hickory smell.  I do like the taste of the syrup.  I would like to think it has some beneficial minerals in it or something, however, it is still sugar, just as maple syrup and honey are sugar.  It should be used sparingly, to top pancakes, etc. and as flavoring in other dishes.


  1. Never heard of this before, very interesting. Thank you.

  2. You always teach me something new. I was already thinking on pancakes and wondering about how will that taste. Hum!


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