Saturday, August 4, 2012

Boiled Apple Cider Syrup
& Pure Cider Jelly

Much of the information below comes from this edition of Organic Gardening magazine. I subscribed when I was a teenager (over 30 years ago) and still have most of the copies.

Modern cidermakers are well aware of the popularity of hard cider in early American culture. And they know that the old-timers also made casks of their own apple cider vinegar. But most people do not realize that two other traditional ways of preserving the cider harvest was to make boiled cider syrup and pure apple jelly (pure meaning that it has no sugar). 

My first introduction to cider syrup was back  in 1977 when I read an article in the October, issue of Organic Gardening magazine. The article, “Ways to Store Apple Cider,” by Eric Chittenden, owner of Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center, Vermont, had this to say about cider syrup:

“Commonly known as boiled cider, this tangy pure cider syrup was used by our ancestors in the making of cider pies, mincemeat, glazes, baked beans and as a general sweetener. Prior to the age of refrigeration and pasteurization, this syrup, which will keep for long periods in a cool space such as a cellar, was reconstituted into a sweet apple juice by the addition of water. It is made in the same manner that maple syrup is made, by evaporation, and is brought down to the same density as maple syrup. In the home, it can be made by boiling cider to the desired temperature of 219 degrees F. To reduce boiling time when making cider syrups and jelly, hours of boiling down can be saved by first freezing the cider to about 25 degrees F. The sweet portion of the cider will not freeze at that temperature, and can be drained off, then boiled to complete the concentration process."

For more insight into the history of boiled cider syrup, please check out the following article from a 1748 book, which I have excerpted at my Agrarian Nation web site: Molasses From Sweet Apples

A variation of boiled cider is “black cider syrup,” which is also mentioned by Eric Chittenden in the Organic Gardening magazine article...

“If your cider is a few days old and very early signs of fermentation are visible, you can make a very dark, concentrated cider syrup. This syrup makes especially good cider pies, custard and mincemeat. It does not have the sweet taste desired in teas or on pancakes, yogurt, or cottage cheese. It is made in exactly the same way as pure cider jelly. However, because of the slight fermentation, the natural sugar content has been altered, and it will not jell.”

If you do a Google search of boiled cider syrup, you'll surely find Wood's Cider Syrup. And while you're at it, make sure you watch This YouTube video of cider being made at Wood's Cider Mill (you get to see them making a cheese the old fashioned way, which is essentially the same way I recommend that you press cider in the Whizbang cider press).

For more information about boiled cider syrup, check out this article in The Washington Post:  Boiled Cider Captures The Essence of Apples, in Syrup Form.

This photo is from the Washington Post article mentioned above.

To make your own cider syrup, check out this recipe from The Washington Post: Boiled Cider Syrup Recipe


As for Pure Cider Jelly, Eric Chittenden had this to say in the old Organic Gardening article:

"Pure cider jelly has got to be one of the greatest prizes in the world of food. The cider is boiled until it reaches a temperature of 225 to 227 degrees F. At this point, it should be put into jars that can be hot-sealed. Upon cooling, the cider will turn to a jelly. A yield of 1-1/2 to 2 cups can be expected from each gallon. It is especially important in making jelly that no bad apples be used and that the cider be no more than a few hours old. If you have time, you will not regret putting a plurality of your cider into this jelly.”

Cold Hollow Cider Mill still makes apple cider jelly (Click Here for details).

For another perspective on pure cider jelly, I found an online how-to that states:

"Many people have never seen or tasted cider jelly but it is one of the most delicious products in the whole world of gourmet food. It is also one of the most difficult products to make. Unlike apple jelly which is made by adding sugar and pectin to apple juice and has a somewhat insipid taste, cider jelly is a pure and natural product made from fresh sweet cider with nothing added. It is both sweet and tart with a delicate yet pungent taste. If you like the taste of a good sweet cider, then multiply in your mind that taste eight times and you will get a sense of what cider jelly tastes like. It is wonderful on fresh bread or toast or as a condiment to many dishes."

You can read the how-to that goes with that intriguing introduction at this link: How To Make Pure Cider Jelly 

And for another perspective on homemade pure cider jelly, click the photo link below...

 (Photo Link)