The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How (Storey Publishing, 2015) by Andrea Chesman, is your comprehensive guide to the techniques you need to get the most from homegrown foods. Author Andrea Chesman teaches dozens of simple and delicious recipes, most of which can be adapted to use whatever you have available.
You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How.
Apple Cider Syrup Recipe
Here’s how to make cider syrup. If you want, you can multiply this recipe by a factor of four (to still fit in a 5-gallon stock pot and make about 8 pints, or a boiling-water-bath canner load), but the time to reduce the syrup will also increase significantly.
I make mine 1 gallon at a time and store it in the fridge, without bothering with the boiling-water bath. My timing for the boiling-water bath is the same as the USDA canning time for apple butter. Sweetened apple cider will reach the syrup point at about 7 degrees F (4 degrees C) above the boiling point of water at your elevation, or 219 degrees F (104 degrees C) on a thermometer (at sea level). But note that the jelling point to make jelly is just 8 degrees F (4-1/2 degrees C) above the boiling point of water at sea level. So when boiling apple cider, it is easy to cross the line from making syrup to making jelly (though other factors come into play as well). My point is this: pay attention at the end of the process.
As with maple syrup, if you are going to use a thermometer to gauge whether your syrup has reached the syrup stage, you need to figure out the boiling temperature of water on that particular day and adjust accordingly.
Finally, another caveat: even with pasteurized cider, you are likely to make a syrup that appears hazy, caused by the pectin and particulate matter in the original cider. This is an aesthetic issue, not a taste issue. The particulate matter will settle as the syrup cools, forming a layer on the bottom of the jar. Skimming the foam that rises to the top of the pot as the cider heats will reduce but not eliminate the residue.
•1 gallon fresh or frozen and thawed apple cider
•1-1/2 cups sugar
• 2-gallon heavy stockpot
• Smaller heavy saucepan for finishing
• Thermometer or chilled plate (set in the freezer), for determining syrup point
• Boiling-water-bath canner (optional)
• 2 sterilized pint canning jars and lids
1. Boil. Pour 1 gallon of fresh or frozen and thawed apple cider into a heavy stockpot. For a clearer syrup, avoid any sediment that has settled to the bottom of the jug. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar. Then bring to a boil.
2. Judge doneness. Continue boiling until the syrup reaches the syrup point, which is 7 degrees F (4 degrees C) above the boiling point of water at your elevation, or until a spoonful dropped on the chilled plate will allow you to leave a trail if you run your finger through it. For 1 gallon of cider, it will take 2 to 3 hours to reach the syrup point, depending on the heat of the burner, the sugar content of the cider, and how well the pot conducts heat.
3. Bottle and store. Pour the hot syrup into the hot canning jars (using a canning funnel to avoid making a mess), leaving about 1/4- inch of headspace, and seal with canning lids. Either cool and store in the refrigerator or freezer or process in a boiling-water bath for 5 minutes. Store in a cool, dark place.
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Excerpted from The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How © Andrea Chesman. Illustrations by © Elena Bulay. Used with permission of Storey Publishing. You can buy this book from our store: The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How.