Hickory bark syrup is syrup made from the bark of a shag bark hickory tree. It can be used for meat glaze, cocktails, and as a sweetener. It has a smokey and complex flavor that is nothing at all like maple syrup, and it is made through a very different process.
First, you have to collect bark from a shag bark hickory tree. Shag bark hickories are big and have one of the largest nuts of all hickory trees, which you can eat. Native Americans ate them, and some people cultivate the trees just to eat the nuts.
Collect about 5-10lbs. of bark (a 5 gallon bucket full) for a gallon of syrup. Bring it home. Scrub off all of the moss and dirt from the outside of the bark with a stiff brush. Most people say to scrub off the lichens, but most of the lichens on the bark are crustose (they live inside the bark), so they can’t technically all be scrubbed off.
Toast the bark on a flame or in the oven. It smells like cooking mushrooms. (Maybe because of the lichens.) Put it a pot of water and simmer it for about 30 minutes to an hour. Strain the contents through a cloth (like a tea towel).
Then, measure the amount of extract. Mix one part extract to two parts sugar and put it back into the pot and bring it to a boil. Immediately, place into jars and let seal.
It tastes amazing! The kids really enjoyed trying it too.
What a fun and yummy adventure! Now, to await the snowpocalypse that’s supposed to be heading our way while we enjoy some delicious glazed meat and cocktails.