21 November 2007

Apple Cider Syrup (sort of)

Posted in food at 11:48 am by Tricia

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.

Cider jelly?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…

Cider syrup, sort of

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!).



  1. susan e said,

    Mmmmmm…..on pumpkin pancakes perhaps? Yummy!

  2. Ham said,

    Sounds tasty …. I wonder what it would be like over Dutch apple pie…..mmm Here’s a comment box version of my recipe – make up sweet, butter pastry with ground almonds (50/50 flour) and line a springform tin (you can just press it aroud. Fill with a mixture of apple chopped coarsely, raisins, flaked almonds, cinnamon, cloves, lemon, alcohol. put squiggles of pastry over the top, brush with egg and bake.

    BTW, you dropped by my elephant blog and impressively discovered where the Albert Memorial elephant was. What you may not have realised was that they (in that blog) are just extracted elephants from my main blog – essence of elephant, if you will – and in there on September 06 (http://londondailyphoto.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html ) you have the answer and a photo of the surroundings on the next day đŸ˜‰

  3. jonskifarms said,

    I bet it would be great over apple pie, Ham! I made a Thanksgiving leftovers salad last night – turkey and roasted squash over a green salad. I made a dressing of walnut oil and the cider syrup that was the perfect touch. I still need to try it on pancakes and ice cream and pie and … who knows what else!

    Susan, C thought it was really great – he made very funny faces and then pronounced it as “essence of cider”.

  4. jonskifarms said,

    Ham, I did realize the elephants were related to the main London Daily Photo page, but didn’t realize they appeared both places. I’ll have to go check out that page (although I found lots of photos of it on Flickr :^).

  5. wanda canakis said,

    i have to leave this message. i hav ebeen looking for info about cider syrup. it wa the first time i ever turn the radio on and hear her say the same time,”just boil it into syrup”. like you i started with a quart. and a hour later it was a half quart. syrup was not possible so i added lemon jello bottled and place in the refrigerator (this works great with my figs preserves).next morning it was sealed and thick but it was like chicken jell. thanks for the info.i really have to laugh at your style of expression.i found you by google search apple cider syrup.you are now on my bookmark.made my day thanks.

  6. jonskifarms said,

    Thanks Wanda! I plan to make some more this weekend, for teacher gifts. I might keep better track of what I’m doing this time around…

  7. alena said,

    This used to be a very common thing for the people living in the country in Bosnia to make out of their apples. They would harvest their apple, squeeze the apple cider and put it in a huge pan outside to boil down what they call ‘pekmez’. This is what they used for flavoring food instead of sugar. It was a healthy way of flavoring things. It also added an interesting flavor to food. They would use it in baking, coffee, or anything else. It was not long ago that they used to do this. They still do it, but since the number of people that live in the country and have orchards of apple have reduced this has too. Therefore, now it is a scarce thing to get. When we visit Bosnia it is something we always look to bring to USA and then use it scarcely here until we go next time to get some more. What we use it mostly for in my family is mix it with sour cream and eat with bread after a main meal, like a desert.

  8. Tricia said,

    Alena, thanks for your comment. It’s always interesting to get some peeks into a different country / way of life! I need to make another batch and start using it again. I never would have thought to mix it with sour cream – that sounds very tasty!

  9. Lee said,

    And wife and friend thought I was crazy to suggest that making REAL apple syrup would like how maple syrup is made: boil until reduced to syrup.

    After finding numerous recipes where it’s add few to many ingredients (one of them always sugar) and cook for five minutes, I now have proof my original plan works.

    Yes! I am vindicated at last! Buhuhuwahahahaha!

    Now then, about that 20# of apples we picked at the orchard yesterday. Time to see if we get some cider out of them to make syrup….

  10. Ami Swerdlick said,

    I would like to know how much syrup to expect from 1 gallon of cider.

    • Tricia said,

      Ami, I’m sorry but I didn’t really keep track of amounts. The jar in the 2nd picture is the size that holds a pound of honey – and you can see that it’s not full. But I don’t remember how much cider I started with. If I make this again (and I should, we really enjoyed it) then I will keep better track of amounts and update this!

  11. Irv said,

    I started with a gallon of apple cider and boiled it for a couple of hours. There was a lot of scum in it so I filtered it through a paper coffee filter while the syrup was still hot.

    The yield one from one gallon of cider was one pint but you can stop earlier or later depending on how concentrated you want it. Mine is pourable even when refrigerated.

    • Tricia said,

      Wow, you boiled for *an hour*? I don’t remember spending that long, but I don’t think I started with a gallon either. And it was 2 years ago, so I could be a victim of selective memory.

      Thanks for the info on amounts – as you can see, people have been wondering about it.

      • Irv said,


        King Arthur Flour sells a pint of Boiled Cider for $10.95. They say that 1 Tablespoon plus 6 oz of water makes regular strength cider.

        That’s a 13 : 1 reduction, mine was only an 8 : 1 reduction. Fresh cider costs about $5 a gallon around here in the fall so
        $10.95 seems like a reasonable price.

  12. Tricia said,

    Update October 2011: I made cider syrup today and paid a little more attention. I started with about 3 quarts of syrup. After about 45-50 minutes, the boiling changed consistency, so I boiled for 4 more minutes. The syrup does “coat a spoon” but it seems thinner than maple syrup.

    The ~3 quarts reduced to 1 cup. That’s about a 12:1 reduction, along the lines of what Irv reported above.

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