Hickory nuts are the most widely utilized part of the tree. They offer an exceptional flavor close to pecan and walnut but with a richness and sweet aroma which is so unique to hickories.
We have good access to the Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata, in the Finger Lakes region. This hickory nut is particularly sweet and especially delicious to eat raw.
The Yellowbud, or Bitternut Hickory, Carya cordiformis, is another very abundant tree from this genus which yields a nut rich in fat, perfect for turning into oil. Many people dismiss this species as being to bitter to eat. The tannic acid which creates the bitter flavor in bitternuts is not fat soluble and so does not come out in the pressed oil. Samuel Thayer sells oil from the Yellowbud Hickory on his website.
The bark of hickory is commonly used to flavor syrup. Harvesting bark from live trees should always be done with sincere consideration for the tree and the bark should never be removed in a clear ring around the trunk.