My step father has family in Canada that makes maple syrup on a commercial basis. Every year, I get a can or two from my mother. I love the stuff. Unfortunately, there aren’t many maple trees in Florida, and whose never really have the weather to get a true sap run to enable us to harvest enough sap for syrup making.
When I was pre-Paleo, I was looking for a way to make my own syrup for breakfast that replaced the high fructose garbage that gets pushed on us these days.
And according to the article I read, you can make a world-class, “exotic” syrup from the bark of the Shagbark Hickory. By “Exotic”, I mean you simply cannot find it everywhere, it is a very unusual product, and in this capitalistic world, that means it’s pricey when you CAN find it. And those that offer it hide the recipe under mystery and misdirection. How hard can it possibly be, I wondered.
Well, I’m too self-reliant and too frugal to buy something I can make myself. So I stared refining my syrup making research, and found a fine woman in Minnesota on a homesteading forum that walked me though the process she used to use when she and her grandmother made it together back in the 40’s and 50’s:
This is a recipe for any old, old fashioned syrup.
Shagbark Hickory Syrup: This can be made by breaking up a couple strips of bark into a medium-size saucepan. Cover the bark with water and boil for 20 minutes. Strain out the bark and return the amber colored liquid to the saucepan. Over medium heat, gradually add ordinary table sugar, stirring continuously until it dissolves and the mixture reaches a consistency you desire.
This is a great syrup! You can use it the same as maple syrup.
Susie in MN
We’ve made this syrup many times, and have even passed it out to family as Christmas gifts. On Christmas Eve 2012, I made a batch, so that we would have some for Christmas morning’s breakfast.
My recipe is here:
- Take bark from a shagbark hickory (I got some from RidgeRunner, thank you very much, Sir!), and under running water, use a stiff scrub brush to remove all debris ans as much lichen as possible. All of the lichen won’t come off, just do your best.
- Break the cleaned bark into pieces and place them in a pot of water, being sure the bark is covered. Bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. This should result in a dark tea.
- Strain all solids out
- Put back over heat, and again bring to a boil.
- Add 1 1/2 time the sugar as there is tea. For a half gallon of water, use 12 cups of sugar.
- Heat until the syrup is a thick as you like.
- Allow to cool while you make sourdough pancakes. Take as tack of pancakes, garnish with buckboard bacon, and top with a friend free range egg or two. Cover with your cooling syrup.
- Thank me.
I make my syrup in 1-2 gallon batches so that I only have to make it once in a while. I’ve found that by bottling the boiling syrup in sterilized jars and sealing immediately, then processing in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, I have no problems with spoilage.
The flavor is definitely hickory, similar to maple, but a flavor all its own. I find I actually prefer this to maple syrup, as far as flavor goes. However, I can assure you that this recipe is NOT Paleo approved.
If you are looking for a unique flavor to add to your breakfast table, give this a try. The portions are mostly by eye, but you will find certain amount tend to please your palate more. I prefer my flavor strong, so I tend to add a lot more bark when making my tea mixture. I also like a thicker syrup, so I usually boil it until I get to about 225- 230 degrees Fahrenheit on my candy thermometer.
Not only can it cover pancakes, waffles, and French toast, but you can also use it to glaze meats and fruits, as a dipping sauce, or as a base for a mighty fine barbecue sauce. The possibilities are endless…
But be sure to try it over some salty bacon, THAT is my preferred way to eat it.