The key to making this versatile kitchen staple is to use a very wide, shallow pan during most of the boiling to maximize the evaporative surface area. Also, keep a very close eye on the boil at the end, as it’s easy for the syrup to boil over or burn if you get distracted. It takes approximately 1-1/2 hours to make, depending on how hard you choose to boil. Note that the relative amounts of sugar and acid in blends of sweet cider can vary considerably. A syrup made from the cider of ‘Pound Sweet’ apples (Malus pumila) will turn out very mild and mellow, whereas ‘Baldwin’ apples (Malus domestica) will give you a syrup with zip.Because cider syrup is both sweet and tangy, it can be used for a wide variety of both sweet and savory cooking and baking. Often, we find it to be a perfect replacement for lemon juice due to its fruity acidity. We love it in vinaigrettes, as glazing for meats and fish, drizzled over roasted vegetables (especially sweet potatoes, squash, beets, and Brussels sprouts), and to replace part of the sugar in apple pies and crumbles. It has a deep, complex flavor, and truly acts as a flavor booster that brightens and enriches your recipes. Cider syrup can also be purchased online and from specialty retailers, including our online store Carr's Ciderhouse.
- 1 gallon sweet cider
- Pour the cider into a wide pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- When the cider starts to boil and “break” (separate into a clear liquid with floating brown solids), remove the solids with a screen-type skimmer, or strain the cider through a tight cloth, such as muslin. You can skip this step, but the syrup will be murky (though still delicious).
- Return the clear cider to the pan, and continue cooking until it reaches a syrupy consistency. (On a candy thermometer, that’s 220 degrees Fahrenheit for a light syrup, or 225 degrees for a thicker, more caramelized syrup.) When the syrup is mostly reduced, it’s helpful to transfer it to a smaller saucepan in order to increase its depth in the pan, so you can immerse the thermometer enough to get an accurate reading. Keep your eye on the pan, and reduce the heat at the end, or you might end up with a boil-over and a sticky stove to clean.
- Pour the syrup into a clean, sterilized, wide-mouth jar, and cap while piping hot. It will keep nearly forever in the refrigerator, but if you’re going to use it within a month or two, it can be left sitting out at room temperature.
For more cider recipes visit Apple Cider is the Perfect Ingredient for Fall Recipes.
Excerpted from Ciderhouse Cookbook © by Jonathan Carr and Nicole Blum, with Andrea Blum; photography © by Colin Price and © by Mars Vilaubi; used with permission from Storey Publishing. You can buy this book from our store: Ciderhouse Cookbook.