Raw cane sugar
David Hinson founded Old School Brand of Albemarle, North Carolina, in 1992, based on a love of old-school manufacturing equipment for products such as cider, molasses, grits and cornmeal. Now, his widow, Robin, and son, Parker, continue the tradition of offering Southern comfort foods, including a wide range of baking mixes (biscuits, pancakes, cookies, cakes and more), cornmeal, grits, jams, syrups, apple butter and old-fashioned favorites such as peppermint stick candy, cheese straws, country ham, dried apples and raw cane sugar (our new favorite). Robin Hinson recommends using the sugar to top muffins and sweet breads, such as banana and pumpkin, to give them a nice, crunchy topping. “For many years, we operated a bakery/restaurant in which we made and served peach cobbler, sprinkled with this raw sugar,” she said. “It was a top seller from our bakery case, and sugar cookies rolled in this sugar before baking also are terrific.”
$6.99 per 16-ounce package. Available at Floral Park Market, or order at oldschool.com.
Spiced apple cider hickory syrup
We were familiar with maple syrup, but hickory syrup? It’s made from hickory bark that has been gathered from sources that don’t harm the trees, and then is roasted, boiled in water to extract the flavor and sweetened. Sometimes, it is made in places where maple syrup cannot be produced. In May 2017, Beth and Bruce Palmer founded Sutton Mill Creek Syrup Co. in Clarkesville, after they purchased a bottle of hickory syrup, and liked it so much that they decided to reproduce it. Experimentation resulted in a recipe, and they began selling the syrup at local festivals. Now, they offer their original hickory syrup and 10 other flavors, including spiced apple cider hickory syrup, a winner in the 2022 University of Georgia Flavor of Georgia competition, and roasted pecan hickory, which was a finalist in 2020. We tried the spiced apple cider version, which lives up to its name. It’s thick, sweet and rich with apple-pie spices, which made it perfect as the sweetener for our Thanksgiving apple pie, and also great for stirring into an apple cider hot toddy.
$9.99 per 8-ounce bottle, $14.99 per 12-ounce bottle. Available at Farmview Market in Madison, Jaemor Farm in Alto and at suttonmillcreek.com.
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