This rare, all-natural syrup is painstakingly made from local
hickory trees here in central Wisconsin.
The word Hickory is derived from the Virginia Algonquin Indian's word "pawcohiccora", a term for a ground meal made from the nuts. Generally not available in retail stores today, the Hickory nut was a staple in the diets of the Native Americans from the east coast to the Midwest for thousands of years. Traditionally, Native Americans gathered the fruits of the hickory tree in the fall and cured them in a sunny, dry spot for a week or more. The nuts were then dried and afterwards, great care and patience was used to extract the nutmeat from the hard white shell. The shell was carefully cracked using a specialized tool and then all of the nut was carefully coaxed out, so as to not waste any of the precious cargo. The early Virginia colonists quickly learned the value of the Hickory from the local Native Americans and used hickory tree wood smoke to flavor, cure, and preserve meats in the famous smokehouses of Virginia.
The Shagbark Hickory (‘carya ovata’) is a large deciduous tree that reaches over 100 feet in height and can live for 200 years. Though the trees are seldom grown commercially, their nuts are edible and are championed by those who know the taste personally. It is also a favorite of the local fauna as squirrels, chipmunks, turkeys, black bears, foxes, rabbits, mice, wood ducks and mallards all compete for the flavorful nut! One factor in the rareness of Hickory nuts is that most nuts only shell out about 30% kernel. In addition, there is great variability in hickory flavor from one tree type to the next. However, the nuts all have a high unsaturated fat content with strong antioxident properties. Besides the nuts, Hickory is also a highly coveted wood used in wood-burning stoves because of its high caloric content and smoky flavor; these characteristics also make the wood preferred for smoke-curing meats. In the early 1800's settlers relied heavily on the hickory to supply strong wood for crates, barrel hoops, wagon wheels, tool handles and wood for fuel. Hickory was so widely known for it's toughness and strength that the 7th President, Andrew Jackson, was nicknamed "Old Hickory"
for his similar traits!