"Hickory Coffee"

Here's a quick way to process hickory nuts and make a rich, nutty, oily beverage I'm calling "Hickory Coffee", mainly because it is too thick and rich to think of as a tea. Most properly, it's a decoction.

Gather shagbark hickory nuts, or other tasty nuts from the genus Carya.

Pound them into small pieces rapidly with a hammer or mallet. Picking out a good sound stump or a round of unsplit firewood to do this on helps.

Put about a cup of split nuts (shells and all) into the bottom of a pot and add several cups of water. I haven't done much experimenting with proportions yet, but 1:3 or so works fine.

Simmer (i.e. decoct) for twenty minutes. The brew will turn brown, opaque, and oily, and emit a wonderful hickory aroma. If you let it simmer too long, tannins will precipitate out of the shells and make the brew overly astringent.

Serve in mugs, sweetened with maple syrup if possible, for an all-native autumn brew. Add milk if desired. The resulting "coffee" is so appropriate for the transitioning season -- warming and oily.

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The brew is based loosely on a more complex process employed by Native Americans. Hickory nuts were smashed by the bagful and boiled. The nutmeats would separate from the shells and float to the top, where they could be eaten as is or ground into flour.  The solution could be strained, and the oil at the top skimmed and purified, yielding a nut oil of finest quality.

The charm of the "coffee" is that it is a quick process and can be brewed up with a modest amount of nuts - and it tastes wonderful.

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Postscript: There is a more complex treatment online at