Apple cider syrup and molasses is made from 100% apple cider with no added sugar. The cider is boiled until it reduces into a flavorful syrup. That's it. It's naturally acidic, so no additives are needed to preserve it.
This is an old time recipe that has its roots in New England during the American Revolution when sugar and refrigeration weren't available. The colonial cooks would boil down homemade apple cider into a pourable syrup or a thicker molasses and store it to use as a sweetener throughout the year. I love the history connected with this simple recipe.
This is my favorite kind of recipe. It uses real, unprocessed food, it's easy, and the resulting syrup has multi-tasking versatility. Maybe it's just me, but I'd never heard of apple cider syrup until very recently; yet this technique has been around for hundreds of years. I'm so excited about this "new" discovery.
So many uses for apple cider syrup (also called "boiled cider"). It has a sweet & tart flavor that can be used as a natural sweetener for a number of foods and beverages. It doesn't have a neutral flavor, though; it's an intensely concentrated apple flavor. So keep that in mind if you're using it for a sugar or sweetener substitute.
- Make “instant” mugs of hot cider--add boiling water to a mug (or heat a mug of water in the microwave); stir in 3-4 tablespoons of apple cider syrup. The amount depends on the thickness & concentration of the syrup, and your personal preference for flavor intensity.
- Add a little rum or brandy to the above mug of hot cider for a warm evening beverage.
- Stir into hot tea.
- Use as a substitute sweetener in recipes in place of sugar, honey, or maple syrup. It's flavor is intense, so add a little at a time to make sure the flavor doesn't overpower the other ingredients.
- It's natural acidity combined with baking soda provides lift and leavening in baked goods.
- Stir into oatmeal.
- Stir into yogurt.
- Spread on toast or muffins.
- Drizzle on pancakes or waffles.
- Use as an ice cream topping (sprinkle on some toasted nuts, too).
- Mix with a vanilla or cream cheese frosting recipe to make apple cider frosting. Over-the-top delicious!
- Add to a basic vinaigrette for a tasty salad dressing (Try mixing 2-3 tablespoons with my Everyday Vinaigrette. Yum!)
- Add it to apple pies, crisps, and cakes to elevate the apple flavor. (I used it in both the batter and glaze for my Gooey Whole Wheat Apple Bars.)
- Make sparkling apple cider--add 1-2 tablespoons of syrup to a glass with ice and sparkling or selzer water.
- Use to sweeten & flavor hot or cold milk.
- Brush it on meat for a delicious glaze; it's especially good on pork, chicken, and salmon.
Stove top or slow cooker. Apple cider syrup is normally made in a big pot on the stove top, but I also experimented with making it in a CrockPot. It worked! I'll explain both methods in this post.
Plain or spiced. You can make this syrup using only apple cider (the old New England way), and the resulting syrup has an intense tart/sweet flavor of apples. I like to add some sweet spices to mine, making more of a spiced apple cider syrup. It is so delicious. I hope you'll give this a try.
Nutritional Information (for 1 tablespoon of apple cider syrup): 58 calories, .1g fat, 4mg sodium, 14.5g carbs, 13.5g sugars, 0g fiber, .1g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 2. Has small amounts of iron, calcium & Vitamin C.
Great for gifts! Jars of this syrup make a unique, tasty gift. I've made some labels you can attach to jars for ready-to-go gift giving. You'll find those further down in the post.
Step-by-step photos for making
Apple Cider Syrup or Molasses
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients
- fresh apple cider -- local, unpasteurized with no preservatives, if available (however any apple cider will do)
- cinnamon sticks
- whole nutmeg
- whole allspice
- whole cloves
- fresh ginger slices
- whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise down one side to expose the seeds inside (may substitute vanilla extract or paste, but a vanilla bean has the best flavor)
view on Amazon: cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, vanilla beans (this bulk pricing on vanilla beans is the best I've found anywhere)
Step 2. Place the smaller spices (allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger) in an empty tea bag or spice/herb infuser. Another option is to bundle them in cheesecloth tied with a string. This makes it easier to remove the spices when the syrup is finished cooking. The cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean are large enough to easily remove them from the syrup with tongs. I used both a tea bag and an infuser in different batches to test them out. They both worked fine. The tea bags did a slightly better job of filtering out the smaller spice bits; however, the silicone infuser is reusable and dishwasher safe.
view on Amazon: large empty tea bags, silicone spice/herb infuser
You can proceed with the remaining steps on the stove top or in a slow cooker.
STOVE TOP METHOD
Step 3. The purpose of this step is to pre-measure the level of the cider in the pan after it has reduced to the correct amount. That way, you'll know when to stop cooking the cider. For a syrup with a pour or drizzle consistency, reduce a gallon of cider down to approx. 2-1/4 cups. If you prefer a thicker molasses consistency, reduce a gallon of cider to approx. 1-3/4 cups. In a large pan (at least a 6-quart pan for 1 gallon of cider), add the amount of water that corresponds with the amount of syrup/molasses you'll want. I added 2 cups of water to mine. Using a disposable chopstick or wood skewer as a measuring stick, mark or notch it at the water line in the pan. Pour out the water to empty the pan.
Step 4. Pour cider into the empty pan. Add the spices. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (still bubbling, but not a rapid boil). Leave the lid off and let it cook down until it has reduced to the level marked on the chopstick.
Step 5. Occasionally check on the pot and give it a stir. As it's starting to reduce to a low level, measure it with the chopstick. When the cider is at the level of the mark on the chopstick, it's time to turn the heat off.
- How long does it take? Below is a batch after it is completely reduced. It measures just a little more than 2 cups--close enough. It takes 2 hours for a single batch of mine to reduce; although that time can vary depending on the pan and heat you use--it evaporates/reduces more quickly if you use a pan with a larger diameter and surface area. If you have a big enough pot to double or triple the recipe (using 2-3 gallons of cider), it can take up to 6 hours for the cider to reduce into syrup.
Step 6. Remove the spices. If there are any gritty bits floating around, you can filter them out by pouring the hot syrup through a fine mesh metal strainer. I don't normally need to do that. I'm fine with the appearance of some of the spices or soft solids from the cider as long as they aren't gritty. However, I had to filter one batch, because I used cinnamon sticks that were particularly soft and broke apart into small pieces as they cooked.
If you won't be canning the syrup, you can pour it directly into a jar and refrigerate it. Done!
SLOW COOKER METHOD
You need at least a 6-quart CrockPot for a full batch.The slow cooker takes 24 hours to reduce the cider into syrup, but it is a carefree "set it and forget it" method, and it makes your kitchen smell amazing the entire time it's cooking.
Step 3. As with the stove top method, pour approx. 2 cups of water into slow cooker (if you're using a gallon of cider) and make a water level mark on a disposable chopstick. Pour out the water, and proceed with the recipe.
Step 4. Add cider and spices to the slow cooker, leave the lid off, and cook on high for 24 hours, until it's reduced to the mark on your chopstick. (Slow cookers vary, so the time is approximate.)
- ENERGY COST. If you're concerned about the cost of running a slow cooker that long, you may be surprised to learn that it costs slightly less to run a slow cooker for 24 hours than simmer on the stove-top for 2-3 hours. That's because the slow cooker is much more efficient to operate. (source: nourishedkitchen.com)
- TIMING IT. Most slow cookers cannot be set for 24 hours. Mine has a 20 hour limit. So, once 20 hours were up, I had to reset it for the final 4 hours.
view on Amazon: my favorite slow cooker (rated #1 by Cooks Illustrated)
The difference between cider syrup and cider molasses? It's simply a matter of how long it cooks and how much it reduces. If you want more of a molasses consistency, simply reduce your syrup more. When I simmer my cider down to 2 cups (or slightly more), the result is a thinner syrup like the left photo below. I like that consistency and find it to be more versatile. But, some batches accidentally reduce a bit more than planned and end up like the molasses consistency on the right. Still good, still versatile, still delicious. It's simply a bit more concentrated, so I use it more sparingly that the thinner syrup.
Storage tips. This syrup is naturally acidic; that means it has a natural preservative that fights against bacteria and spoilage. Thus, it is stable in the fridge or a cabinet for an extended time. In the pre-refrigeration pioneer days, unsealed jars were stored at room temperature. I'm more cautious and prefer to refrigerate mine. Here are recommended storage options:
- Keeps for months in the fridge. One batch of this recipe makes 2 cups of cider syrup and fits perfectly into a pint mason jar or two half-pint jars. It will be good for at least 4 months (likely longer), so you can enjoy mugs of hot cider long after cider season ends.
- Can it using water process canning (explained below). Jars of syrup can be stored in a cool, dark area in your house for 1-2 years. If you want to make up more cider syrup to have on hand or to give as gifts, it is safe and suitable for canning. Read on.
CANNING APPLE CIDER SYRUP
- Make 2 or more batches while you're at it. There's a lot to get out and organize in order to can. So, while you're at it, can several jars. I wanted to have some jars of syrup for gifting; so, I made 4 batches of cider syrup (resulting in 8 half-pint jars) and combined it in a big pot before I started canning it. I made 2 batches one day and two batches the next day, refrigerating the 1st batches until I was ready to can them. If, like mine, some or all of your syrup has been made ahead and chilled, you'll need to reheat it by combining all of the syrup in one big pot on the stove, bring it to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes before canning it. (This extra cooking isn't necessary if you are canning the syrup immediately after it has finished cooking the first time.)
- Adhere to canning safety guidelines. Canning isn't difficult, but it's important to follow the jar preparation and processing recommended by the USDA. If you want more detailed canning information, I recommend the Ball website. They are the ultimate authority, and their site is loaded with detailed information and recipes suited for canning.
- For general canning tips, see my previous post,
Step-By-Step Canning Tips
- Get organized before you start. Assemble all of your canning supplies and lay them out so that everything is accessible once you begin the canning process. Below is a photo of my set-up right before I began canning my cider syrup. Everything that will come in contact with the syrup has already been sterilized in the boiling water canner.
view on Amazon: waterbath canner and utensil kit, pint mason jars, half-pint mason jars, stainless steel canning funnel
1. Sterilize the jars and keep them hot. (Once sterilized, I hold mine in a 200 degree oven until right before I fill them.) I used mostly half-pint jars for my cider syrup so I'd end up with more jars for gifting. Pint jars can be used as well. Use a canning funnel to fill each hot jar with hot syrup, leaving 1/4" headspace.
2. Insert a bubble remover down the side of the jar and pull toward the center to release any bubbles (you can use any long, thin object like a knife or chopstick).
3. Clean jar rims thoroughly with a wet paper towel. If the rims are dirty the jars won't seal.
4. Use a magnetic lid wand to add a lid to each jar. The wand makes it possible to position the lids without touching and contaminating them.
5. Screw on a ring until it is "finger tight". The rings don't come in contact with the syrup; that's why it's okay to touch them.
6. Use a jar lifter to insert each jar vertically into the boiling water in the canner. There should be at least 1" of water over the tops of the jars.
7. Cover and return water to a rolling boil. Process jars for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove lid; leave jars in hot water for 5 more minutes.
8. Use a jar lifter to remove each jar vertically and set on a towel. Leave undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Within 30 minutes after the jars are removed from the water, you know they've safely sealed if the center of the jar is slightly indented (it shouldn't give when you press it); sometimes you'll hear a popping noise when they seal. If any of your jars don't seal, store them in the fridge where they'll be good for months.
Store your sealed, processed jars in a cool, dark place (a cabinet or pantry is fine as long as it doesn't get too hot); a basement is ideal.
REAL FOOD doesn't always look perfect. In the photo below you can see that the jar on the left has some visible cloudy solids. Those are naturally occurring in cider that hasn't been processed to death, and I take them as a good sign--it means my syrup is made from real food that is minimally processed. After the jars have cooled for 24 hours and the syrup has thickened, you can shake the jars to redistribute the solids to give the syrup a more uniform appearance. Alternatively, while the syrup is still hot, you can strain it through a coffee filter or a few layers of cheesecloth to remove the cloudy solids. (I choose not to strain mine--personal choice.)
For a finishing touch, I like to label my jars. That way they're ready for gift giving, too. Apple cider syrup is particularly unique and fun to share. Most people have never heard of it and are excited to be able to make an instant mug of hot cider.
DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE JAR TAGS/LABELS:
Click below on the image of your choice to download & print a full sheet of labels/tags. I've included a blank label for you to customize as you wish, or use it as a "TO and FROM" tag.
- Print these on card stock, cut them out, punch a hole in the corner, and hang them from the jar neck with a ribbon, string, or rubber band.
- Print them on sticker paper and stick them to the jar or lid. Or, print them on regular paper and stick them on with tape.
If you don't have a printer or specialty papers, you can have a store with printing services download and print them for you (Kinkos, Office Depot, Staples, etc.)
You can cut the round tags out carefully with scissors, or use a circle punch to make the task easier.
- view on Amazon: 2" circle punch (cuts these tags into perfect, smooth circles in one quick, easy motion)
Instant hot cider throughout the year! There are so many ways to use a jar of this syrup, but most often I use it for a quick mug of hot cider. It's so much easier to store a small jar of syrup in the fridge than a big jug of cider.
A favorite benefit of making this flavorful syrup: it makes the house smell amazing while it cooks!
Make it a Yummy day!
Once you get your apple cider syrup made,
try this recipe that uses the syrup in both the batter and the glaze:
Gooey Whole Wheat Apple Bars
Apple Cider Syrup & Molasses (a natural sweetener)
Servings: makes 2 cups
- 1 gallon apple cider (as least processed as possible; use fresh local cider, if available)
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 5 slices unpeeled fresh ginger (1/8" thick)
- 5 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise down one side to expose beans inside (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
STOVE TOP METHOD:
1. Add water to a large (at least 6 quart) pan to pre-measure the amount of syrup/molasses you'll make. For a pourable syrup consistency, measure 2-1/4 cups water, for a thick molasses consistency, measure 1-3/4 cups water (or somewhere in between those 2 measurements). Place a disposable chopstick verticallly into the water in the center of the pan and notch or mark it at the water line. Empty water from pan and set chopstick aside (this will be your measuring stick later).
2. Pour cider into empty pan.
3. Place allspice, cloves, nutmeg & ginger in an empty tea bag or spice/herb infuser; or bundle them in cheesecloth tied with a string. Add the bundle to the cider along with cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean (or extract).
4. Bring cider and spices to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer (still bubbling, but not a rapid boil), cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a syrup. Use the marked chopstick to measure when the cider has reduced to the correct pre-measured level. This normally takes from 2-3 hours.
5. Remove spices and pour syrup through fine metal mesh strainer if there are gritty bits in the syrup (this may not be necessary).
SLOW COOKER METHOD:
Follow steps above, except cook uncovered in slow cooker on high for approx. 24 hours, or until cider has reduced to pre-measured amount marked on the chopstick.
BIGGER BATCHES: Recipe may be doubled or tripled on the stove top as long as you have a big enough pot. (Allow room for the liquid to expand as it boils.) It takes approx. 5-6 hours for a triple batch to reduce into cider syrup.
STORAGE: Pour syrup into covered jar or container and store in the fridge for at least 4 months. Or, can it for longer room temperature storage (see below)
FOR WATER PROCESS CANNING: Add hot syrup to hot sterilized pint or half-pint jars leaving 1/4" of headspace, and water process in water canner 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and leave jars in hot water for 5 minutes. Remove from canner and let rest undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Store jars in dark, cool place for up to 1-2 years.
For canning safety:
--Follow jar preparation and processing recommended by the USDA; see canning safety guidelines at http://www.freshpreserving.com
For general canning tips, go to www.theyummylife.com/canning_tips
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (for 1 tablespoon of apple cider syrup): 58 calories, .1g fat, 4mg sodium, 14.5g carbs, 13.5g sugars, 0g fiber, .1g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 2. Has small amounts of iron, calcium & Vitamin C.
USES FOR APPLE CIDER SYRUP:
(It has a sweet & tart flavor that can be used as a natural sweetener for a number of foods and beverages. It doesn't have a neutral flavor, though; it's an intensely concentrated apple flavor. So keep that in mind if you're using it for a sugar or sweetener substitute.)
--Make “instant” mugs of hot cider--add boiling water to a mug (or heat a mug of water in the microwave); stir in 3-4 tablespoons of apple cider syrup. The amount depends on the thickness & concentration of the syrup, and your personal preference for flavor intensity.
--Add a little rum or brandy to the above mug of hot cider for a warm evening beverage.
--Stir into hot tea.
--Use as a substitute sweetener in recipes in place of sugar, honey, or maple syrup. It's flavor is intense, so add a little at a time to make sure the flavor doesn't overpower the other ingredients.
--It's natural acidity combined with baking soda provides lift and leavening in baked goods.
--Stir into oatmeal or yogurt.
--Spread on toast or muffins.
--Drizzle on pancakes or waffles.
--Use as an ice cream topping (sprinkle on some toasted nuts, too).
--Mix with a vanilla or cream cheese frosting recipe to make apple cider frosting. Over-the-top delicious!
--Add to a basic vinaigrette for a tasty salad dressing.
--Add it to apple pies, crisps, and cakes to elevate the apple flavor.
--Make sparkling apple cider--add 1-2 tablespoons of syrup to a glass with ice and sparkling or selzer water.
--Use to sweeten & flavor hot or cold milk.
--Brush it on meat for a delicious glaze; it's especially good on pork, chicken, and salmon.
Easy Apple Cider Syrup with no added sugar; stove top or slow cooker. A natural sweetener to stir into hot water, tea, oatmeal or yogurt; drizzle it on toast, pancakes or ice cream.