Reduced cider is the secret ingredient. All through the year, a bit of cider reduced to a syrup adds deep apple flavor to so many recipes. It’s no work, very economical, and your house will smell fabulous all day! Choose a cool fall day, rainy or not.
How to Boil Apple Cider
Pour a gallon or even just ½ gallon of fresh apple cider into a big stainless pot. I often start with a gallon, drink a couple glasses because it’s so delicious and then reduce it, so I start with about ¾ gallon in a 6-quart pot.
It isn’t apt to boil over. Set it over high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the burner down to medium and keep the cider at a slow boil until it reduces to half, then turn down the heat a little more and let the cider simmer until it’s reduced to about 1/3 of the original volume. It will be darker and about the consistency of warm maple syrup.
Let the cider cool, then pour it into wide-mouth jars and freeze. I keep mine on the door shelf of the freezer, along with yeasts and ginger puree. Right there, ready to use. Don’t be tempted to add cinnamon stick or other spices — they could become bitter and, reduced that much, you won’t have control of the flavor.
Add your boiled cider to apple pie and apple crisp, apple cakes and breads, and any other recipe that will benefit from a shot of pure apple flavor, adjusting the liquid in your recipe. It keeps a year or more in the freezer. Since the cider contains natural sugars from the apples, it doesn’t freeze quite solid, so it’s easy enough to scoop out a spoonful.
GMO Warning: The GMO apple could be appearing in markets soon. The varieties are ‘Arctic Golden’ and ‘Arctic Granny’. You’ll want to check the little sticker on apples to be sure you avoid buying these “frankenapples."
I made the 2 person size pictured; you can multiply the ingredients and increase the baking dish size for as many servings as you wish, allowing about 4 inches square and 1 good sized apple for each.
• 2 good-sized apples that bake well such as Golden, Granny, Greening. I used fresh Galas.
• 2 tbsp organic cane sugar
• ½ tsp best-quality cinnamon
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter plus a little for the baking dish
• 2 tbsp boiled cider
• Optional interesting things to add: Diced dried apricots, raisins soaked in rum, dried cherries, chopped walnuts, or pecans.
1. Butter your baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Peel and core the apples and cut them lengthwise into ½-inch wedges.
3. In a small bowl, stir the cinnamon into the sugar. Melt the butter and stir in thoroughly. Now, add in the boiled cider. If the cider is ice cold, the butter will clump up — no matter, just stir until it’s evenly distributed.
4. Arrange the apple wedges in the buttered baking dish, packing them in pretty tight. Spoon the sugar-cider mixture over as evenly as you can.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes. Halfway through, use a spoon to baste the apples with the syrup in the dish. Some might top a serving with whipped cream or ice cream.
Cover and refrigerate. For breakfast, serve them cold with yogurt or warmed and stirred into oatmeal. To top a waffle? Or just leave it out and somebody will come along and finish them.
Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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