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Hickory Syrup Expand / Collapse
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Posted 8/21/2010 10:28:25 PM


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I just found instructions on-line for making hickory syrup, which I had never heard of before. Since I live smack dab in the middle of the great midwest oak-hickory forest (with hundreds of hickory trees on my own and family land) that caught my attention. Has anyone ever made their own hickory syrup? If so, can you pass on your experiences. I would like to give this a try.
Post #22031
Posted 8/23/2010 12:16:46 AM


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Dog, I waited for others to reply first but since none came, I will chime in.

My understanding is that a lot of hardwood trees produce edible sap that can be converted into sugars that can be boiled down into a syrup. As with most things, we humans tend to find something that we like and stick with it and a few generations later, forget about the other possibilities. I think this is the case with hickory syrup. More then likely the flavor is a bit different, and it takes substantially more of the raw sap to boil down to make a gallon of syrup. I am not sure what the ratio is for hickory, but I know Hard Maple requires 40-50 gallons to boil down into one gallon of sap, so I would not be surprised if it took 60-80 gallons of hickory sap to make one gallon of syrup. Which really only means a bit more work on your end.

So I would say go for it. Its not unusually here in Maine to see people tap soft maple instead of hard maple, and towards the end of the season, we have tapped Yellow Birch and drank the tree pee without boiling it down. Its actually good, but will give you the runs something fierce if you drink too much of it. (Maple syrup will do the same thing if you drink it straight).

(Not to change the subject to yellow birch, but often while logging or going through the woods, I will snap off a twig of yellow birch and chew on it. It tastes like winter green and keeps you from getting thirsty and just tastes good.)

The roots of Eastern Hemlock were ground up back in the old days to make a type of root beer flavored drink. Spruce tips boiled in water makes for a nice tasting spruce tea, and who has not walked through the woods and picked up a chunk of spruce gum and gnawed on it for hours. Talk about flavorful and gummy...not recommended for those with lots of dental work however!

Lots of good things come from the forest if you know where to look and knew what the old-timers did.

******

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Post #22046
Posted 8/23/2010 6:16:45 PM


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Surprisingly enough, hickory syrup is not made with tree sap like other syrups, but by boiling the shaggy bark of the shagbark hickory and/or the nut shells. You then add sugar to the liquid and boil to the consistency you want. Only one individual in the whole country sells hickory syrup, but I thought maybe some of our midwest hobby farmers had heard of hickory syrup or made it themselves. I'm definitely going to give it a try.

I made maple syrup on a small scale last winter and was thrilled with the results. I have been looking for maple trees this summer and I have found plenty (silver maples here) that I can tap this coming winter.  

Post #22068
Posted 8/29/2010 9:02:29 PM
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There are some videos on hickory syrup if you look it up on line.  yes it is done by boiling the bark after washing it and I saw it pressure cooked then sweetner added to taste.
Post #22189
Posted 9/10/2010 6:26:02 AM
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hmm.. I never tried to make hickory syrup but love to try it soon.. ^^,

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Post #22452
Posted 10/11/2010 7:31:47 PM


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I'm happy to say that my hickory syrup experiment was a success. I filled a 22 quart pressure cooker half full with shagbark hickory bark, then added enough water to cover the bark. I pressured the bark for one hour at 5 pounds pressure. One my first try I put the resulting extract in a pot and added 1 1/2 times sugar as extract. I cooked the mixture until it looked finished. The result was excellent. On my second attempt I cooked down the extract and reduced it to about half to increase the hickory flavor. I then reduced the sugar to 1 1/4 times the amount of extract. the result was even better than the first batch. Everyone loves it. I need to cook some more extract now. I want to try reducing the extract by 3/4 for even more flavor, and reducing the sugar to an equal amount as the extract, or even less. Hickory nuts are ripe now, so I also want to try using cracked nut shells to create extract. 
Post #23008
Posted 10/12/2010 8:07:19 AM
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It's great to hear success stories!

Just a question, though:  Are you having to remove enough bark that it will damage the tree?  I'm not familiar with the trees, but the name "shagbark" tells me that some of the bark peels off on its own...am I correct?

So, tell us what this syrup tastes like.  Also , how much finished product did you get from each batch?

Karen

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Post #23022
Posted 10/12/2010 7:20:55 PM


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The bark on a shagbark hickory comes loose naturally and you can peel off pieces without harming the tree. You can also use cracked nut shells, with or without the nuts inside.

The finished syrup has sort of a rich, earthy taste.

I started with a 22 quart pressure cooker about half full of bark, then I added water to just cover the bark. When I was finished pressuring the bark I had about 1 1/2 gallons of extract. After cooking down and concentrating the extract, adding sugar, then cooking until finished I had about 3 quarts. The finished quantity was probably about two quarts. The quantity of the finished product depends on the initial concentration of the extract, then how much you reduce that quantity to increase the concentration.

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