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...but full of hope! We finally located a couple shagbark hickory trees at a friend's farm. We harvested a box of the bark to try to make syrup. I've started roasting most everything in the oven, instead of pot-watching on the stovetop, so hopefully the bark will cooperate with this method too. IF I can get a decent hickory flavored water, I want to use pear juice as the primary sweetener for a small batch of syrup (we have a generous amount of pears from another friend)! I'll let you know what happens.
OK, it didn't turn out very well. The water tasted like, well, like wood! I put the bark back into the pan of water to let it macerate for a few days, then I'll check it again. Tomorrow I'm trying a similar experiment with the shagbark hickory nuts and nutshells to see if I can get a taste other than wood!