Sterilized bottles and lids
Stiff Scrub brush
Bark from Shagbark tree (make sure bark is loose, and removing does not expose the tree as it leaves it vulnerable to damage)
Turbinado Sugar (we usually need about 8 to 10 cups)
We love hickory syrup, and find ourselves using it on a little bit of everything. I especially love using it to make bbq sauce, as it adds an earthy, smokey, sweetness. We have tested and tweaked a few different recipes, until we found one that works for us. We hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
When gathering shagbark, we try to use fallen pieces, but if there is none available, we grab pieces that already have another layer of bark beneath it to help protect the tree for years and years of syrup!
it doesn’t take much bark to make a good batch of syrup, usually a few decent sized pieces are plenty. Once you have gathered the bark, you will need to clean the bark with water and a stiff scrub brush. Make sure and scrub both sides well, and rinse thoroughly. I usually run the bark through a couple of scrub sessions before baking. After cleaning, break the bark into smaller manageable pieces, pieces small enough to fit into your pot
Once you’ve scrubbed the bark, you will want to place it in a shallow baking dish in a single layer, and bake it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. This helps to develop the smoky, earthy flavor of the bark prior to boiling.
After baking, transfer the bark to the pot, and fill it with enough filtered water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to allow it to simmer, We are essentially working to brew a shagbark tea, so we want to simmer low and slow for about 30 minutes.
Your tea should be a nice amber color, remove the bark, and strain the tea. We line a strainer with a coffee filter and run the tea through it to remove any unwanted bark bits. I would suggest straining a few times using a new filter each time to make sure the tea is clean before moving to the next step.
Return the strained tea to the pot, and bring the temp up to low medium. You will need to measure your tea to ensure you have equal amounts of sugar and tea. We add the turbinado a cup at a time allowing the sugar to dissolve (we also sift the sugar to help the dissolving process). Sugar crystals that don’t dissolve are the enemy in a syrup, as it will cause the syrup to crystallize, but it does make a really yummy rock candy when it happens.
When all the sugar has dissolved, you will start to raise the temperature slowly bringing the mixture up to a boil. We gradually raise the heat allowing the syrup to reduce while coming up to temperature. We find we like the syrup consistency we receive around the 225 degree mark. Once you hit 225, pull the syrup from the heat, and prepare to carefully ladle into your sterilized bottles. We use a funnel to help reduce spills, and we wipe the bottom of the cup/ladle we use for pouring, as the syrup will thicken quickly, and cause the pour to go a little haywire.
Make sure your jars are still hot from sterilizing and that you leave space from the top of the jar to allow the jar to seal properly. The heat from the jars, and the syrup should cause the canning jars to seal. Once sealed the syrup can be stored at room temperature, but does require refrigeration after opening.
One last tip, keep a small pot of boiling water, and a basting brush or similar item handy when being the syrup up to temperature. If you see sugar crystals on the side of the pan, you can use the brush to run a small amount of boiling water along the crystallized areas to loosen the sugar, and prevent issues with the syrup.
Questions? Feel free to leave a comment. Also, we would love to hear how you use your syrup!