Shagbark Hickory Syrup
Recipe and photos by Ellen Zachos
If you missed out on gathering sap to make maple syrup this season, and want to try something new – consider this recipe shared by Ellen Zachos that was featured in the Outdoor News Taste of the Wild feature recipe.
Shagbark hickory syrup can be used in place of maple syrup on pancakes or waffles. Use it to flavor sorbets or ice cream. It’s also tasty swirled into yogurt, in a glaze for chicken, pork, or salmon, or as a craft cocktail ingredient.
- 1 pound shagbark hickory bark pieces
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Rinse off the bark to get rid of bugs and spider webs. It’s ok to scrub with a sponge or scouring pad, but don’t use soap. Discard any pieces with lichen growing on them. Lichen has its own taste, and it’s usually bitter. (While many lichens are edible, they are highly acidic and require special preparation to make them palatable.)
Spread the bark pieces on a cookie sheet and roast them for 20-25 minutes. They should smell lightly smoky and spicy when you take them out of the oven.
Transfer the bark pieces to a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain the liquid and throw away the bark. Measure the liquid and return it to the pot. Add an equal volume of sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low boil/high simmer, and keep it on the heat, whisking regularly to avoid scorching.
Continue to cook the liquid until it’s reduced by 25-30%, then remove the liquid from the heat and let it cool.
Pour the syrup into bottles or canning jars. For long term storage, process canning jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Syrup will last in the refrigerator, unprocessed, for several months. Processed jars will last up to a year.
If your syrup crystallizes, pour it back into the pan, reheat, and stir to dissolve. To prevent crystallization in the first place, you can substitute corn syrup for some of the sugar. Corn syrup is an invert sugar, which means it prevents crystals from forming. Try substituting corn syrup for 25% of your sugar to avoid crystallization. Or, add a dash of cream of tartar or citric acid to your syrup, to prevent crystals from forming.
Shagbark hickory syrup can be used in place of maple syrup on pancakes or waffles. Use it to flavor sorbets or ice cream. It’s also tasty swirled into yogurt, in a glaze for chicken, pork, or salmon, or as a cocktail ingredient.
About the Chef:
Ellen Zachos is a Harvard graduate and the author of seven books including Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat, and The Wildcrafted Cocktail. Ellen is passionate about showing people how to use their wild harvests, and she teaches wild cooking and mixology classes at workshops and retreats across the United States. A long-time instructor at the New York Botanical Garden, she recently moved to Santa Fe, NM, and now splits her time between the desert southwest and the lush northeast.
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