Boiled Cider (Apple Molasses)

I am a magician.

You see that wine bottle? I fit two whole gallons of apple cider into it.

Really.

Okay, I boiled the cider down until it fit, and I didn’t have to work hard to do it. Yes, it took nearly six hours, but I didn’t stir it and wasn’t even in the same room (or same floor of the house for that matter) for more time than it took to pop in and confirm that, yeah, it was still boiling, and mmm-hmmm, it was still shrinking in volume.

So what’s the point behind this exercise?  I am about to let you in on an almost-forgotten little piece of America’s food history. This thing goes all the way back to the sixteen-hundreds, the introduction of apples as a crop and the European settlers. I’m talking about Boiled Cider.

Oh, I know. The name? Boring. Totally. Sometimes it has been referred to as apple molasses which ,while a little more jazzed up comparatively speaking, still sounds pretty meh. Believe me, though, there is nothing bland, boring, or unexciting about Boiled Cider.

You know when you get a really good glass of fresh, icey cold apple cider straight from the mill; The way your tastebuds perk up and your mouth actually waters from the tart sweet cider? Imagine that times seven*. Add to that a hint of caramelization, and a thick, pancake syrupy consistency and you have Boiled Cider. It is beautiful in its simplicity. It is just cider. No sugar, no flavourings, no preservatives, no fancy canning. It is only cider boiled down into a thick, shelf-stable syrup that makes just about everything better by its mere presence. There is no added sugar, it is the natural sweetness of the apples that makes this so good.

*Seven is not an arbitrary choice for this comparison. When boiling cider down for this project you want to reduce it to one seventh of its original volume.

Boiled Cider started as a way the settlers devised to preserve cider long past when even hard cider would be drinkable and would pass into irretrievably vinegar territory. Kept in a bottle on the pantry shelf, this stuff lasted through the winter and into the next apple season for them and it will do the same for you.

What do you do with Boiled Cider? Let me get you started, but once you have this handy, you’ll be off and running.

  • Drizzle over vanilla ice cream.
  • Use to baste pork roasts or chops, ham, chicken or glaze other meats.
  • Stir a little into hot tea.
  • Pour some into a mug, add a shot of whiskey or brandy, and top off with hot water.
  • Toss a tablespoon or two to the sliced apples for a pie or apple crisp. You will be blown away by how much more appley it tastes. (I know many professional bakers add this to their pies and crisps as their secret ingredient!)
  • Whisk into cream cheese icing for a pumpkin spice cake and be prepared for the compliments.
  • …Our personal favourite: Pour a tablespoon over ice, fill the rest of the glass with seltzer water, and give a quick stir. Voila! Healthy apple cider soda!

Lipsmacking just doesn’t cover it. This is… It’s… Could words be failing me? It’s like everything wonderful about fall condensed into one syrup. It’s pure, distilled essence of apple. It’s completely and utterly wonderful. And you get all this just by boiling a pot of cider.

Don’t wait. Make some of this for yourself as soon as possible. Have it on your shelf. Then, in December, January, February -whenever you need a boost- pull out your bottle of this opaque, deep reddish brown elixir and pour out a little measure of happiness. You’ll be so glad you did.

Boiled Cider (Apple Molasses)

Boiled Cider is everything wonderful about fall condensed into one syrup. It's pure, distilled essence of apple. It's completely and utterly wonderful. And you get all this just by boiling a pot of cider.

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons apple cider (or less, but remember you will be reducing this to 1/7th of it's original volume.)

Instructions

Pour apple cider into a very large, non-reactive stockpot (stainless steel, copper, or glass, but NOT aluminum unless it's coated.)

Use a clean ruler or wooden stick that you can mark with the starting level of the cider.

Turn heat to high, cover the pot with a splatter screen (to prevent flies or other insects from dropping into the pot) and bring to a boil.

Boil the cider hard until it has reduced to 1/7th of its original volume. Watch more carefully toward the end because it may creep up higher in the pan as it becomes thicker and bubbles stack up on each other. Turn off the heat and let the bubbles die down to check the depth of the liquid with your ruler or dipstick. You should end up with approximately the volume that it takes to fill a clean, empty 750ml wine bottle.

Pour into a clean, sterile jar (for long term storage) or a clean, empty wine bottle (for short term, refrigerated storage). Cover tightly and store in a cool, dark place.

http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2011/09/08/boiled-cider-apple-molasses/

Comments

  1. Betsy says

    This sounds like heaven! I love that first taste of apple cider in the fall. Just to clarify – boil on high the whole time? Any worries about it burning?

    • says

      It’s a high boil the whole time! When you get toward the end, you’ll want to watch it more closely because like most syrups, the bubbles tend to stack up on themselves and creep up in the pan as it gets thicker. You can shut the pan off and let the bubbles die down before checking the height on your ruler or dipstick :-)

  2. says

    OH I think I’m going to buy out McPhersons of Cider!! YEA! I’ve always bought this in the past. Can’t wait to make this. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  3. TiffH says

    I love this, I had never heard of it before now! Do you think it matters if it is fresh cider or the processed stuff from the store? What do you recommend?

  4. Kathryn says

    I had crepes with apple cider caramel when I was in France a couple of years ago. The caramel sauce was AMAZING. I’ve thought about how to get that apple taste into caramel, but never had it quite figured out. I bet this would add that apple flavor to a caramel sirup—I’ll have to try it.

    • Tari says

      It certainly would add the apple flavor to caramel. That’s what I made my first batch for. As an ingredient in Apple Cider Caramels!!!!! And the first batch was made out of simple store bought cider. Next time, this coming weekend, I’m going to make more from cider I can get made locally. Can’t wait because the flavor of THIS was AMAZING!!!!! Can’t wait to make it out of the GOOD STUFF!!!!

        • Tari says

          I got the recipe for the Apple Cider Caramels at the Table For Two recipe blog,

          http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/2013/09/11/apple-cider-caramels

          The link above should get you there. I’m going to give these caramels out for Christmas, along with my butters: apple, peach, cherry, grape and strawberry/raspberry in fancy little canning jars. I like so much to do some thing like this rather than go buy something. And I’m almost done with my Christmas gifts because you make the butters when the fruits are in season.

  5. says

    I’m going to have to make this. Sounds delicious. Do you need to do anything special when sealing the bottle up for long term preservation? Example – wax?

  6. says

    Wow! This looks incredible. I am a huge fan of pomegranate molasses and love the idea of being able to create something similar with our multitude of local apples. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Llamabean says

    This looks fantastic, I can’t wait to try it out.
    I love old old recipes and how useful they can still be, thank you for sharing!

  8. says

    What a great idea! I too love these old-timey recipes. As for your suggestion on pie–if you get the King Arthur catalog they are always selling this stuff as a “secret ingredient” to jazz up your homemade pies.

  9. steve f. says

    Sounds absolutely wonderful! The whole house must smell amazing when you are making this.
    One question….how do you sterilize a wine bottle? I will be trying this, for sure!!

    • says

      You are so right. It smells good enough to make you gnaw your own leg off! As for sterilizing a wine bottle, there are a couple methods. You can boil it (using extreme caution, of course!) or use wine/beer makers sterilizing rinses. The latter is the easier option, but can be difficult to source depending on whether you’re near a dealer of brewing supplies.

  10. Ginger says

    This sounds great! My son is picking apples as I type this. Can this be reconstituted later with water to produce apple cider? Or will the caramelization affect change to flavor too much? I can’t wait to boil some down. Thanks!

    • says

      I reconstitute it nearly every day! It is *like* apple cider at that point, but slightly different, which you would expect from all that cooking. Our favourite thing to do is the “apple soda” pictured above.

    • says

      I would recommend steering clear of one with spices added. They could give the finished product a muddy or scorched flavour when concentrated to that degree. As far as brands go, I don’t have a preference: just a good solid, pure apple cider. I buy it from a roadside stand up the road from me.

  11. Charlene says

    I’m sorry. I guess I should have worded my question better. What size jar and how long do you water bath this for? Thanks for your help. This looks delicious.

    • says

      I used pints and half pints because that is a reasonable amount of the boiled cider to use when opened. If I’d had more half pint jars, I would’ve used more of those. :-) I processed them for about 10 minutes.

  12. Rosie says

    Here’s a thought…what about using this in making homemade apple cider donuts? It would give it a real nice apple flavor instead of using just regular cider.

  13. Carole says

    So, after reading this, I too am now in possession of a large amount of boiled cider! My husband and I took beer – making carboys to a local cider mill and filled them up with what is possibly the most delicious raw Michigan cider I have ever tasted.

    Half went into a crock in the basement, so we can try our hand at making vinegar. And half boiled the day away!

    ANYWAY. I haven’t gotten a chance to try this recipe yet (the weekends are always too short) but maybe you can beat me to it..

    http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/apple-skillet-cake-recipe

  14. Emily says

    I just tried this for the first time today, and I’m afraid I was a little overzealous with the boiling – it’s VERY thick and caramely, and I’m afraid it’s going to set up hard. Anything I can do?

    • Joe Blow says

      I would just add some water to it and let it dissolve. Add about a 1/2 cup at first and go from there until you get it how you want it.

  15. Joe Blow says

    @Emily – I would just add some water to it and let it dissolve. Add about a 1/2 cup at first and go from there until you get it how you want it.

  16. Heather says

    I never heard of this before, but it sounds wonderful! Can you do this with apple juice, or does it have to be cider?

    • says

      I think it really needs to be cider, Heather. The cider has a much more intense flavour than apple juice, and apple juice is already cooked (and often diluted). :-)

  17. C4bl3Fl4m3 says

    I just made this by accident.

    How, you say?

    Well, I love mulled things. Cider, wine, even apple juice in a pinch. And I love how making it makes my house smell. Nothing smells more like the Fall/Winter holidays to me than hot mulled anything. So sometimes I’ll put a pot on to simmer with the mulling spices and a bit of apple something to scent the air. Which I did today with some apple juice. But then I forgot about it.

    When I came back, I had a thick, syrupy mulled concoction. Which immediately made me think of this recipe.

    The mulling in it is VERY strong, obviously, so I’ve decided to take the rest of my apple juice, cook it down as well, and add it to the original to cut the spices a bit. So I’m currently reading this recipe to do it right this time.

    So thanks! Instead of something I would have otherwise thrown out, I now have a lovely syrup to add to things (or maybe give away for the holidays… I haven’t decided yet.)

  18. Marcus says

    Hey folks, was just wondering what u mean by apple cider? Over here in N Ireland we have countless variations of cider from mass produced ones with added preservatives colourings flavourings ( but are quite sweet to drink and are very popular in the bars!!) the more dry ciders which give u that tang but also prob have other additives or are u better off making your own?

    • says

      Hi Marcus- I’m referring to “sweet cider” which is freshly pressed from apples and not at all fermented. :-) No preservatives, colourings, flavourings, funky stuff is added. It’s just plain old pressed apples. If you can’t buy it, you can replicate it by coarsely chopping apples in a food processor then pressing through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. The way it’s done in large quantities here is using a wooden press. Is that available near you?

  19. says

    Great Scott, woman. My mother shows me your buttermilk recipe the moment I walked through the door (she never does that, so I knew it must be something good) and I’ve been reading your recipes for the last four hours. I want to be your neighbor. I want to trade plates of food and tips and tricks and if-you-give-me-a-cup-of-sugar-I’ll-bring-you-some-of-(dessert)-in-an-hour. You are amazing.

    I grew up in apple country, also Amish Country–Gays Mills, WI. I cannot wait to try this. Thank you so very, very much.

  20. Kris Ramsey says

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I buy it from a roadside stand up the road from me. Thanks for sharing! As far as brands go, I don’t have a preference: just a good solid, pure apple cider.

  21. Stephanie says

    I made this last night and woke up to find it has set as hard as a brick (in its bottles). Should I follow Joe Blow’s advice about adding water? Thanks!

    • says

      By all means! If you need help getting it out of the bottles, gently warm the bottles themselves in hot water. Then pour the syrup into a pot, and add a bit of boiling water to thin it out! Whisk carefully, and adjust as necessary…

  22. Karen D. says

    My dad saw this recipe on your blog and now makes it all the time. We live in Florida, so no fresh apple cider here, so he brings us a jar every time he visits from Pennsylvania. I am addicted to it on hearty homemade whole wheat seed bread with peanut butter. Drizzle this on top YUMMY! There is something about the combination of apple molasses (or as my dad calls it – apple honey) and peanut butter.

  23. Lorraine says

    I just found a bottle of boiled cider in my cuboard. It must be at least l0 years old. I was going to throw it away, but the bottle is sealed. Must I throw it away?

  24. Hattie Russell says

    This sounds like heaven! Do you need to do anything special when sealing the bottle up for long term preservation? But then I forgot about it.

  25. Sara says

    Making this again this year to get cider out of the freezer before we press again :). Our very favorite way to consume it last year was a dash on the rocks with bourbon. Beautiful.

  26. Colleen says

    So, does the finished product of this recipe look like the molasses thick and dark or more like a liquid as in the picture of the spoon on the plate? I’m not sure whether I over cooked or not even though I have the 1/7 ratio from one gallon. It doesn’t appear to be consistency to drizzle ??)
    Thanks!

  27. David w says

    Hi sounds so yummy ive recently had to give up coffee , espresso , black teas , it all gives me acid reflux so ive discovered eating apples helps relieve this so i just tried hot apple cider recently and its so nice ! 2 questions can i make this in a crockpot? And can a store bought cider be boiled down ? Like a generic one ? Or does it have to be a special kind ? Thanks in advance ! David w

    • says

      Good questions, both! In answer to the first question, I would say you can’t make it in a crockpot. This is mainly because you need to BOIL boil it without a cover for quite some time to get it reduced. I don’t think there’s a slow cooker out there that can manage that. Now, I have better news about the cider. Store bought generic cider is FINE… I would avoid a spiced one, however, because the flavours will concentrate and might taste a little funky in a not so great way. I hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor (heh. Sorry.) and I’m glad you found something to replace all that other stuff!

    • says

      It should be easily pourable. If it’s too thick, you can return it to the pan, add a bit of water to thin it out and boil it for at least five minutes!

  28. Savannagal says

    Thanks much for sharing this. I had hoped making boiled cider was as simple as your recipes says it is. I’m going to give it a try, rather than buying online and paying for shipping. I look forward to using it in some recipes.

  29. GP says

    This stuff is amazing. I use it in my spiced pumpkin homebrew to give it that extra kick (in flavor and abv!) If you have a large stockpot, i.e. 10 Gal+, definitely use it for this! I make extra to give away

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