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Hickory Syrup Made From Bark And Nuts
Shagbark hickory syrup looks like maple syrup but has its own unique taste. Instead of being made from sap, hickory syrup is made from hickory tree bark and nuts. For enthusiast John Humphrey, getting the taste just right is key.
"Hickory bark has its own flavor," says Humphrey, who has a PhD. in chemistry. "It's not quite as sweet as maple syrup and is a little lighter."
Humphrey and his wife sell their syrup at various farmer's markets as well as from a website. The syrups are made from hickory trees on their own farm.
To make it, they gather the bark, which hangs in loose strips from the trees. Removing the loose bark has no affect on the tree. Recently fallen bark can also be used.
The bark is carefully cleaned. Brushing it under running water removes insects and most other material. It is then broken up for processing. The Humphreys have developed their own 8-step process using pressure cookers and aging of the recovered liquid.
Other hickory syrup makers report boiling it or toasting it in the oven first and then simmering it to make a tea.
"We developed a pretty good syrup after about two dozen attempts over a 6-month period, reviewing more than 30 recipes that go back several generations," says Humphrey. "We believe our pressure cooking and aging produces a less bitter or stringent brew."
Using his chemistry expertise, Humphrey examined the sugar components of maple syrup. He noted that it naturally contains sucrose, glucose and fructose. Since the hickory bark extract contains no natural sugars, he adds a ratio of the three sugars, including a small bit of molasses for its color.
"We use multiple filtrations and bottle it at more than 215F, which sterilizes the bottles," says Humphrey. "What sets our syrup apart is the crystal clarity."
Humphrey follows a similar but more complicated process to make a syrup from hickory nuts. FARM SHOW tested both syrups and liked them. Each flavor is unique with the bark syrup much stronger. While the sweetness says maple syrup, the bark extract flavor has a real "earthy" flavor. The hickory nut syrup is much lighter and is true to the flavor of hickory nuts, lightly toasted.
Both syrups have won awards in specialty foods competition. Humphrey offers multiple recipes on his website.
Humphrey recommends using both on pancakes, cornbread and ice cream. "Native Americans crushed and boiled nuts to something they called hickory milk," says Humphrey. "They used it as an ingredient in their cooking. I'm looking forward to making cornbread with some hickory milk."
Online the syrups are priced at $12.99 a bottle, including shipping. If buying three or more bottles, the price is reduced.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Turkeywoods Farm, 110 Haley Rd., Mystic, Conn. 06355 (www.mysticsyrups.com or www.turkeywoodsfarm.com).

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2011 - Volume #35, Issue #4