21 November 2007
Apple Cider Syrup (sort of)
Last week on The Splendid Table, Lynne Rosetto Kasper briefly told a caller how to make cider syrup (about 43 minutes into the program – get the podcast or realaudio version). It sounded pretty fabulous, so I bought an extra gallon of cider at the Farmer’s Market today, with this in mind. She hadn’t been specific in her directions – “boil it down to syrup” is what I remember – so we winged it. After winging it awhile, and simmering the cider forever (or so it seemed), I consulted our friends at Google (not the actual office downtown, the search engine – because as far as I know we don’t actually have any friends who work there. But I digress!)
Recipezaar had a bunch of recipes that included sugar and other stuff. Sugar? Added to cider? Huh? I did find this one slightly helpful recipe at a Colorado TV station web site, which states (and I quote):
1. In a large pot, pour 2 quarts of good quality apple cider, such as an organic brand not from concentrate.
2. Bring to boil and allow to continue at a rolling boil until the cider reduces to a syrup, thick enough to coat a spoon.
3. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly and pour into a clean jelly jar.
Okay, so that’s a teeny bit more helpful – “thick enough to coat a spoon.” Seemed like a candy thermometer might be helpful, but “syrup” is not one of the markings (the first one on mine is “jelly”). The first few cookbooks I consulted didn’t have “syrup” in the index, but I found an ice cream cookbook that did. Most of those recipes (none for apple cider syrup, by the way!) directed me to bring the liquid to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes.
However, we had boiling cider, but even after 5 minutes it still looked like cider, not syrup! So after a while, I turned up the burner to max, and the boiling got really rambunctious, and the consistency changed and the smell was wonderful – so then I started my timer. I still wasn’t believing that 5 minute thing, so I might have gone more like 10 minutes. When it was done and cooled off a little, I poured it into a clean empty bottle I had. That’s when I noticed it was kind of thick. How thick? As you can see in the photo to the left, it’s thicker than a Dairy Queen blizzard when it first comes off the mixer! Maybe I reached “jelly” on that thermometer and just didn’t notice…
But wow! This stuff is tasty! Zingy! Tart! Essence of apples! No wonder LRK was singing its praises!
So anyway, with the help of a long slender spoon handle and the addition of some liquid cider, I managed to pull that quivering syrup, err… taffy? jelly? out of the bottle. I put it back in the pan with more cider, and boiled it down some more. This time, when the boiling got rambunctious and roiling, I set the timer for 4 minutes and turned off the heat a little early. And this time, after it cooled, it was much more like syrup – it would drizzle off the spoon, for example – but still a little thick.
Rather than risk getting it stuck in that slender necked bottle, I decided to use a jar that a spoon could fit in. Like how I re-purposed the label from the cider jug? Now we just have to figure out how to serve it! I’m thinking pancakes for breakfast. And what was Lynne recommending again anyway? Was it sauteed pumpkin with cider syrup drizzled over? I think I know one of the side dishes we’ll have for Thanksgiving…
Oh, and can I provide a more precise recipe at this point, so my loyal readers can make their own at home? Not really, but it goes something like this:
1. Pour cider into a non-reactive sauce pan.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat. After it’s boiled for quite awhile (10 minutes? 20? 30? sorry that I didn’t keep track…), the boiling will look different because the consistency is now thicker. From this point, time 3 to 5 minutes. Your timeage may vary!
(2.5 If it gets too thick, add more cider and try again – be more cautious this time!)
3. Let cool. Taste and swoon. If the result has the consistency of syrup, put it in a pretty glass bottle. If you have something thicker, put it in a jar that a spoon can fit in. Refrigerate (although you might want to warm it up a bit before putting on pancakes!).