Confession: I love me some autumn. This is my favorite season… ever. It’s got cool sunshine and low humidity; sweaters, cute jackets and jeans; and oh, the food! Apples and pears, pot roast and soup, tomatoes and squash and pumpkin and cranberries. It’s pretty much the perfect season.
And, to celebrate the greatness of autumn, I just discovered a thing called Boiled Cider. This is actually a very old-fashioned syrup-type product that’s made from apple cider. It used to be super-popular, especially along the east coast, but has really fallen by the wayside. UNTIL NOW.
I’m telling you, I’d like to start a boiled cider renaissance. This stuff is like autumn, in edible form. Now that I know it exists, my life is forever changed, for the better.
But before I get to making boiled cider, let’s discuss the name. Boiled cider sounds… unappetizing, I guess. Boiling is one of those terms that makes me think water-logged and flavorless, while this stuff is pretty much the exact opposite: thick, sweet and so full of pure apple flavor that you’ll be knocked sideways. I prefer to call it cider syrup, but according to my sources, actual commercially produced cider syrup is cut with cane sugar and sometimes maple syrup. You could also call it Sweet Cider Reduction, Apple-licious Sauce or Liquid Apple Goodness. All are accurate, and in my opinion, much better names. But because this is a very old-fashioned treat that (apparently) has not yet been seized by marketers, it’s called boiled cider.
I will give “boiled cider” this though: It’s a pretty accurate description for how this stuff is made. You pull out a big pot, fill it with pure apple cider and boil it for three to four hours, until it’s reduced to a syrup-like consistency. How will you know? Two ways: Big, stacked bubbles, and/or gauging the depth. It should be reduced down to one-seventh the original amount.
That’s pretty much it. I packed mine into a stolen (from my husband’s beer-making supplies) and sanitized Grolsch bottle. In this, it’ll be good for, like, ages. You can also store it in an un-sanitized Tupperware container in the fridge for a few months. Like I said, easy.
But it’s also a product you can buy. Everything between commercially made boiled cider and DIY boiled cider is the same: It’s cider, boiled. (Now, if you buy cider syrup, that’s a different product.) DIY and Buy will have the same ingredients, the same nutritional facts (which are basically: sugars, sugars and more sugars) and the same flavor. So, we’ll skip the super-deep analysis this time.
The two-person taste test found cool boiled cider in every form (DIY and buy) to be AWESOME. It has the consistency of honey, and tastes like… well, apple cider and fall. They taste fantastic. Both.
2.5. You don’t have to do anything, really. Just boil cider, on the stovetop. EASY. However, you do want to check on it, and as you hit the 3-hour mark, start watching it closely. Those bubbles can overflow, and then you have a sticky mess. But avoid that by stirring down the bubbles.
DIY or Buy?
Um. Either, depending on your level of ambition and whether you have a spare 3 to 4 hours to spend watching stuff boil.
BUY: Woods Cider Mill in Vermont sells a pint of boiled cider for $7.50 (plus shipping). They’re totally authentic, making their own cider from their own orchards the same way since the 1800s (and also making MAPLE SYRUP, yum). I’ve heard they’re one of the few commercial cider mills still making this old-fashioned treat, so if you’re feeling busy, go ahead and buy it from them and feel good about keeping one of the last remaining small producers in business.
DIY: I made a pint (plus a few ounces…) of it myself, for the $5.99 that a gallon of cider costs (in Iowa). It took about 3 hours and 25 minutes, with some stirring at the end to keep stuff from burning, and about half an hour to let it cool/bottle it. It’s pretty effortless and it makes the whole house smell delish.
And what do you DO with boiled cider? Add it to baked goods. Here are some of the places I plan to use my boiled cider (either added in or drizzled over): Apple pie. Applesauce. Ice Cream. Steel-cut oatmeal. Biscuits. Blondies. Frosting (as a flavoring). Apple crisp. Pear crisp. Pear pie. Baked beans. Roasted ham. BBQ sauce. Candied bacon.
I’m sure there are others. These are just off the top of my head. Possibilities, endless, etc…
What do you love best about autumn? And what’s your favorite autumn treat?