October 13, 2021
There’s this thing you might not know about yet. It’s called apple cider syrup. It’s also called “boiled cider,” and “apple molasses.”
Once, apple cider syrup was a commonplace way to preserve apples and their nutrients throughout the long winter months in hill farms and homesteads across New England and westward. Now, apple cider syrup is completing a journey from traditional pantry staple to cultural artifact to commercial commodity.
Food nerds can find out more about the rise and fall of apple cider syrup at Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. The culinarily curious can get a taste of some by visiting Woods Cider Mill online. And the rest of you need only know that you can make your own by pressing apples or buying cider, and boiling it down to about one-eighth of its volume. You can do this either in your kitchen or, for large quantities, your Sapling Evaporator or other backyard maple sugaring equipment.
Apple cider syrup can be poured over pancakes, waffles and ice cream. It makes good marinades, sauces and salad dressings. And it is added to apple desserts to make them more flavorful. Apple cider syrup is also a tasty addition to hot and cold drinks. Where apple cider syrup recipes are concerned, have no fear, the internet provides!
We first learned about apple cider syrup from Audra, a customer of ours. Audra purchased a Sapling Evaporator Pan from us shortly after moving to a homestead with dozens of ancient apple trees and space in the garage to store her heirloom cider press.
Audra grew up in Weathersfield, Vermont, near the famed Wood’s Cider Mill, where she made maple syrup every spring with her family. In addition, there was a family cider press. In fact, all three of her brothers went on to found and run apple-related businesses. These businesses included Brown Brothers’ Cider (Motto: “we squeeze to please.” No joke!), Cider Co. and Champlain Orchards. So picking, pressing and preserving apples was a family affair. Audra canned up to twenty gallons of apple cider per year. She made apple cider syrup too.
“When I saw your Sapling,” says Audra “a light went off in my brain! I knew about the process [of making apple cider syrup] and thought what an awesome way to preserve cider and create a unique local product. Your Sapling is such a perfect size for a small homestead.”
In a good apple year, says Audra, in addition to making apple cider syrup, “I hope to work on some of my own creations. I plan to experiment with herbal and berry infusions. We have a growing farm and produce an increasing array of herbs and berries as well as keep bees and harvest honey.”
As to how Audra enjoys apple cider syrup, “I usually use it as an extra special ingredient,” she says. “So far we have added it to recipes to give them an apple kick. I like to pour it over meat when baking for a unique flavor, [and] it is tasty on ice cream and in salad dressing. [I] [a]dd [apple cider syrup] to apple pie or crisp, muffins, etc. I know I haven’t tried half of the possibilities.”
So, whether you have access to pressed apples or care to experiment with a gallon of store-bought cider, give apple cider syrup a go this year. You may just find yourself with a new skill and a delicious ingredient for the ages.