Why It Works
- This recipe is a classic reduction, an ideal way to concentrate the sweetness and tang of a well-balanced cider.
- Boiled cider syrup can be used to add depth to barbecue or baked beans and as a glaze for an apple cake or homemade apple fritters.
It's bittersweet when we move firmly into autumn, once and for all saying goodbye to the stone fruits and melons for another year. The cool weather is a relief, though, and a bracing, sweet yet tart glass of apple cider is a true pleasure once we've let summer go. Long ago, orchard-rich New Englanders figured out a way to preserve the autumn lure of apple cider by reducing it into a syrup, as dark as maple and just as appealing.
It's called boiled cider and the recipe for making your own is about as simple as the name. It's a classic reduction, an ideal way to concentrate the sweetness and tang of a well-balanced cider. A true preserve, boiled cider used to be a pantry mainstay in New England, but as cane sugar became more widely available and local orchards gave way to housing developments, people grew out of the habit of using it. There are plenty of delicious reasons to make your own, though.
Boiled cider syrup can be used to add depth to barbecue or baked beans as easily as it can become a glaze for an apple cake or homemade apple fritters. Mixed with hot water or seltzer, it makes a great apple toddy or spritzer, and it's fantastic splashed into a salad dressing or as an option for your home bar.
To yield any quantity, it bears starting with a considerable amount—at least a gallon—of fresh, minimally processed cider, and if you're going to bother canning it, you might as well make an even bigger batch than that. You will also require your largest non-reactive pot, a wooden spoon, and several hours. There are just a few ingredients to make it, and the one of key importance is time. For best results, seek out cider that doesn't taste watery. It should instead have a full-bodied sweetness and a pronounced sour note. You'll need that tart edge to balance out the sweetness once you concentrate the flavors.
3 gallons minimally-processed apple cider
Prepare boiling water canner and sterilize five 12-ounce jars by boiling them for 10 minutes. Wash lids and rings and bring to a simmer in a separate, small saucepan of water. Turn off heat and allow jars, lids and rings to sit in hot water until you need them.
Pour cider into your largest heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot. Insert chopstick into cider until it touches the bottom of the pot. Using a pen or a paring knife, mark or notch the chopstick at the level of the cider. Then, removing the chopstick from the pot, measure from your first mark (the cider level at the start) and the end of the chopstick (the bottom of the pot) and make a second mark or notch at the halfway point. Make a mark/notch at the 1/3 point as well. The marks on the chopstick will serve as visual cues to help you see how much your cider has reduced.
Bring cider to a boil over high heat and then reduce to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thoroughly reduced, 5-8 hours, depending on your stove. Check the cider level against your chopstick measurements regularly.
Cider is finished when it has reduced to one third of its original volume, and it coats the back of a spoon. When cider is finished, remove from heat and strain, in batches, through a paper coffee filter or a fine sieve strainer lined with a clean, dampened dishtowel.
Pour cider into prepared jars, leaving a quarter inch of headspace. Wipe the rims of the jar lids with a clean kitchen or paper towel and seal.
Place sealed jars back into the canning kettle. When all jars are added, make sure that the water level clears the jar lids by at least 1 inch. Add more water if necessary, and, over high heat, bring the water back up to a boil. Once the water boils, set a timer for 5 minutes.
After 10 minutes, turn off heat, and allow jars to sit in water for 5 additional minutes. Then, using a jar lifter, remove jars to a cooling rack.
Once jars have reached room temperature, remove rings and test that all lids have sealed properly. If any have not sealed, store them in the refrigerator. Label and store sealed jars in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
Boiling water canner, disposable wooden chopstick
To learn more about the canning process, check out our beginner's guide to canning.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 13g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||8%|
|Total Sugars 10g|
|Vitamin C 6mg||29%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|