Holiday Giving: Apple Cider Syrup

apple cider syrup

When I was growing up, the Bybee-Howell House on Sauvie Island (just outside of Portland, Oregon) held a Wintering In festival each fall. For me, the highlight of this event was the fact that they gathered all the apples from the adjacent orchard and pressed them into cider in front of our eyes. I’ve had a deep love for the flavor of fresh cider ever since.

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to capture that fresh apple cider flavor in a preserve*. The idea of an apple cider syrup seemed particularly appealing, because it would be so flexible. I even tried to make it about a month ago, but cooked it right up to the set point and ended up with jelly instead. It was tasty, but not what I was going for.

apple cider

This weekend I tried again. I picked up a gallon of fresh cider from my local farmers market, brought it home and poured it into a big pot. I added three cinnamon sticks and brought it to a boil. Once it was bubbling madly, I lowered the temperature a bit and let the cider cook down while I cleaned the kitchen and started a batch of soup.

It simmered for about an hour, until it was reduced by a little more than half. At that point, I removed the cinnamon sticks and added two cups of granulated white sugar. I stirred the sugar in until it was dissolved and continued to cook for another ten minutes or so. At this point, I began to monitor the temperature of the cider. Once it reached 218 degrees, the syrup was done (remember, the set point of jelly is 220 degrees, so if you want something to remain a syrup, you have to stop short of that temperature).

214

Once it was done, I was left with a generous 6 cups of syrup. I funneled it into an assortment of prepared jars and processed them in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Now, you may be asking yourself, what does one do with several pints of apple cider syrup? My favorite way to use it is as a base for a quick mug of warm cider. Simply spoon some of the syrup (I like three tablespoons worth, but your tastes may vary) into the bottom of a heatproof mug and top with boiling water. It’s a great treat on a cold winter night.

You can also use it as a pancake syrup, which is a very nice way to go. If you find it a little too thin, just add a small amount of cornstarch to thicken just before serving (don’t add cornstarch prior to canning, it doesn’t hold up). I don’t mind it the way it is, but again, tastes vary.

It would also be good drizzled over cake that needs a bit of moisture or stirred into hot cereal. I haven’t tried it yet, but I also imagine it would be very good in a warm brandy drink. Just a thought.

How would you use an apple cider syrup?

*There’s a mulled cider jelly in my cookbook that’s pretty darn good, but of course, I can’t share that one with you quite yet.

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104 responses to “Holiday Giving: Apple Cider Syrup”

  1. I make unsweetened apple cider syrup by SIMMERING for hours to reduce to 1/8th of the total volume of cider. How else to use it? I use it as suggested above on cakes to moisten before frosting; toss apple slices with cinnamon, sugar, and cider syrup for a killer pie or cobbler; when deglazing a pan after cooking meat add a dribble of cider syrup too (and perhaps a little port); drizzle into a baked sweet potato; add 2 Tbsp to pumpkin pie filling; and use in place of 1/2 the vinegar in salad dressing. I have found that when using cider that has been frozen there is an odd residue that forms in the syrup. It doesn’t affect the taste, just the appearance. I found that I could let the syrup settle for a few weeks and then carefully decanted the clear syrup off the top of the settled solids.

  2. Wow! What an idea! I have several containers of apple cider pressed from my mom’s orchard in the freezer! This would make a tasty and cheap addition to my Christmas baskets this year! I can imagine to would also be delicious thickened up and drizzled over french vanilla ice cream with some granola or pie crust crumbled over it. Thanks for the post! 😀

  3. Stacy,
    Do you think thawing the cider then running it through cheese cloth or tea towel before simmer would help with the texture?

    • I cooked down previously frozen cider and got the same sediment and foam. I just scraped off the foam while cooking and ran the syrup thru cheesecloth when it was done. This stuff is killer good.

  4. let see–roasted Pork Loin Glazed with, I think a bottle of Spiced Rum is calling–mixed with a little powdered sugar and drizzled over some Walnut butter cookies–just for starters

    • If you wanted a thicker syrup, you could add a bit of Clear Jel. Though I don’t know if it would work so well if you then wanted to use the syrup as a base for hot apple cider.

  5. There’s a tradition of “boiled cider” here in New England that’s simply boiled down apple cider without any other flavorings or sweeteners. It takes on an almost mineral flavor; some find it too bitter to use as a straight syrup. I use it as a more local choice in place of molasses for baked goods, otherwise I use it as I would balsamic vinegar or a musto. My absolute favorite way of showing it off is as a finish to cider vinegar chicken!

  6. ClearJel holds up in the heat. My apple pie filling was fantastic made with it and it didn’t get all runny when baked in the pie.

  7. I wouldn’t have thought there was enough acid in cider alone to permit simple water-bath canning. There’s no problem with the pH level?

  8. I *need* to make this! I’ve been making a lot of hot apple cider in the Keuring at work , but a homemade version would be so much better (and cheaper too…)

  9. Did you use a candy thermometer or a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature? I have a simple digital candy thermometer but not a fancy meat one with a probe. Is that still okay? I really want to try it this weekend but don’t want it to turn into jelly because I use the wrong equipment.

    Thanks!

    • I used a cheap digital instant read thermometer, but you can use whatever you have. As long as it gives you a clear read and you can tell when you’re approaching 220 degrees, you’ll be fine.

  10. This was a wonderful post. I am new to your blog and I enjoyed it enough to read through your earlier entries. I’m so glad I did that.You’ve created a great spot for your readers to visit and I enjoyed the time I spent here. I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  11. Oh. My. God. This is a fabulous idea. I love hot apple cider, but rarely make it by the cup, usually just by the gallon in my crock pot for fall/winter parties.

    Question: would adding additional spices (ground cloves, nutmeg, allspice) affect the acidity? I am relatively new to canning and am still tiptoeing around what I can add that will still allow me to safely waterbath can and what will reduce the acidity too much.

    Love your blog! It has been an inspiration for my own 🙂

    • Kristi, you can safely infuse the syrup with additional spices, but I wouldn’t can them into the finished product. Put them in a spice bag or stainless steel tea ball and infuse them along with the cinnamon sticks. When I suggest pulling the sticks, also pull the rest of the spices. That way you get a good level of flavor without making a murky syrup. And for future reference, most of the time, you can add additional spices in small amounts without effecting your acidity levels.

  12. Earlier this year I made some “Mostly Grapefruit Marmalade” which didn’t jell enough. (sigh) I’ve been using it in smoothies since citrus doesn’t seem to go with oatmeal or pancakes. This article and comments give me several ideas of what to do with my mistake. Add to hot water for a drink is a great thought.

    Many of these ideas would work with different types of unintentional syrup.

  13. My first thought ran to…pound cake…perforate a warm pound cake with a wire cake tester and brush the syrup onto the cake, top and bottom…around 1/4 cup…or more…why not? Wrap it up overnight. Boy, that would be awesome. The cake would stay fresh for a good long time too – if you could stay away from it.

    My second thought ran to making a pan sauce for pork chops. Cider syrup, basil, and pepper. Mmm. I could stand that.

  14. I like what Rachel said above, drizzled over cinnamon rolls instead of frosting. I recently tried my hand at wheat and gluten free cinnamon rolls, which rocked. Perhaps I’ll do the same with this syrup and marry the two.

    • Jomia, you need to add time to both the cooking down and the processing, as water boils at lower temperatures the more the elevation increases. Do a search for high elevation canning. There’s plenty of information out there about it!

  15. To cook a brisket (with onions for sure); to glaze a corned beef; to glaze and baste a turkey….

    Also, as a flavoring for cake frosting or even for cookies.

    Maybe as the base for some apple-y muffins or the liquid for some scones?

    Hmmm, now I am hungry and the eggnog scones I am planning for tomorrow might need to be made tonight and glazed or drizzled with apple cider syrup?

    tory

  16. I’d make a soda with it! I’m a soda-jerk at a local Austin candy store. I think I will have to make this as a gift for the bossman 😉

  17. I wish I saw this a few weeks ago! I made boiled cider for the first time, and after I poured it into bottles, I realized it was setting up. I still am able to use it, but it’s like jelly and not really pourable… I didn’t add any sugar- would you need to? Next year, I’m doing it this way! Thanks!

    • I added the sugar because I wanted to ensure a more syrup-y texture. I found it hard to achieve a true syrup without boosting the sugar content a little.

  18. Is it possible to substitute honey for some or all of the sugar? I’m a backyard beekeeper and always looking for new uses for our honey. Does your new cookbook adress using honey in preserving?

    • Gary, I’ve not tried doing it that way, so I don’t know. And unfortunately, I wasn’t able to include much about preserving with honey in my cookbook. There’s a wonderful, out-of-print book out there called Putting Up With Honey. Copies can be had for not much money if it’s something you want to explore more.

      • The book “Stocking Up” from the Rodale Institute also has information on making jam with honey, and some information on using honey as a sweetener in other canning recipes.

  19. This is fabulous! Does it matter what kind of apple cider you use? Does it have to be all natural/fresh or can I just go to the store and pick up cider?

    Thanks!

  20. One of my favorite kinds of jelly is apple cider jelly, the way it’s traditionally made in New England. It’s hard to find the real stuff these days – I actually mail-ordered some from Vermont because I couldn’t find it near my parents’ house in MA anymore. This stuff is made from pure cider, boiled down until it gels – no sugar, no additives. It’s intense and delicious. I’ve never thought about making cider jelly or syrup myself, though… I’ll have to try it.

  21. I made this last night and it turned out perfectly!
    My brain immediately bum-rushed the idea of pairing it with pork, but I’m excited about the suggestion of turning it into a soda. On to syrup pairing discoveries!

  22. I made this recipe this weekend and a funny thing happened. First, I hit 218 degrees but the mixture was still totally liquid without the hint of becoming syrup so I panicked and keep it boiling for several more minutes. So it definitely reached over 220 degrees by the time I turned the burner off. I filled 5 full jars and had a bit leftover that I planned to refrigerate and eat right away. The funny thing that happened was the five jars I processed remained syrupy in their jars despite hitting the jelly set point and the little bit of extra set in it’s jar and is now jelly. Why didn’t my processed jars also set? They are still perfectly runny in the jars. Will they set once they are opened, exposed to air, and used? Next time I’ll just trust in the science and fill the jars once the temperature reaches 218 even if the mixture is still liquid. That just really threw me off because I expected it to be syrup by that point. I guess it turns into syrup later?

  23. I was also wondering if this could be done with no sugar added apple juice? Or if i could add a little apple juice? I am a bit short of a gallon of cider.

  24. I tried this last night, but I’m not sure if it turned out right. I cooked it to maybe 215, and it still seems quite runny. Maybe I should have reduced it more or cooked it those final 3 degrees? I used Trader Joe’s unfiltered apple juice (I believe the only difference between that and cider is the pasteurization) and followed the directions otherwise. Could I throw it all back in, reduce it further, and re-can it?

    • A lot changes in those final three degrees. You could redo it. Do know that it’s not a SUPER thick syrup. It’s got the consistency of a simple syrup.

  25. Based on the comments I’ve read above and my own experience making this a couple nights ago, I’d say this recipe was not well-tested and advice you to save your time. I followed it to the letter and my “syrup” still had the consistency of apple juice. I trusted that it would set after canning but it didn’t. Now I’m left with a whole in my wallet the size of fifteen dollars, four jars of super sweet cider that is un-giftable, and three hours of my life I’ll never get back.

  26. What about eliminating the sugar, simmering it down, and freezing it in ice cube trays rather than canning it? I do this with chicken broth for a hot mug when needed In fact, we blew threw a big batch over the last few days, with cold and flu season upon us.
    I’m trying really hard to eliminate as much processed sugar as I can from our diets, and 2 cups is kind of a lot.

  27. I like to use the last of the fruit syrups or jellies (warmed to liquid) as a salad dressing base and mix it right in the jar. Add your fave vinegar, S & P and some oil. Shake it right in the jar and use for a spinach or quinoa salad.

  28. I just gave my 14-year-old niece her first lesson/experience in canning with this recipe, and we love it! She’s ready to come back this summer and make jam. Thank you for writing the post and sharing your ideas, Marisa. Your work with food (and jars) is wonderful.

  29. […] Apple Cider Syrup:  This recipe is from Food In Jars, so you know it will be boss.  Marisa suggests using it as a concentrate for making hot apple cider or heating it and pouring over pancakes, both of which sound like pretty life altering suggestions.  Some of the comments on the recipe also suggest tossing it with apple slices before putting them in a pie or cobbler, using it to deglaze a pan when cooking savory stuff, or using it to replace a bit of the vinegar in a salad dressing.  Basically, this sounds ridiculously good, and I’m planning to set aside a couple of hours to run some apples through our juicer with this in mind as an end result. […]

  30. I am making this recipe today, and I have added a generous amount of fresh sage and fresh rosemary, tied with twine to the pot early on. I washed them and dried them and put them in the pot for about 15 minutes, then removed them. I plan to use the syrup in pork dishes, as mentioned by others. I’ve added the herbs now because they are abundant and very inexpensive at this time of year, and they will be very costly later this winter- when you practically buy them by the sprig!
    I realize that this limits their use to savory recipes, but boy, does it smell terrific!

  31. Thanks for the great recipes! I just finished a batch of the Apple Cider Syrup, I made the Cider Jelly yesterday, they were so easy to make. Do you mind if I post it and credit you in my blog? My sister and I love sharing recipes like yours that are simple and delicious!

    Angie and Tammi
    naturalhomemadeliving.blogspot.com

    • Angie, if you post the recipe to our blog, I ask that you rewrite it using your own words and descriptions. If you were planning on posting it verbatim, I’d prefer that you link to it.

  32. Marisa: Do you think that pasturized apple cider would be OK to use? I can’t find anything else locally and was wondering if that would work . . . . .

  33. I tried making this with pasteurized apple cider last night, noticed a (perhaps superficial, but unattractive?) problem that I think is may be related to the pasteurization, but I’m not sure so I thought I’d bring it up here. My jars had a cloudy haze of pectin swirling around inside after processing, which settled with cooling. At least in the pictures above, your syrup does not seem to suffer from this.

    According to this site, when you exceed 175°F (give or take depending on the variety and condition of the apple) the pectin in the cider denatures and drops out of suspension. This results in a juice that is almost clarified on top but has a thick “cloud” of formerly suspended solids on the bottom [of the jug of cider].” I shook up the cider before reducing, of course, but these solids remained in the syrup.

    Now, even if the cider started unpasteurized, we are going past 175 degrees in making the syrup… but the cider is not remaining a liquid, so a haze shouldn’t be able to separate and form a cloud. I don’t necessarily need to get rid of the haze; either evenly distributed or totally settled solids might be ok, but anything in between looks kind of gross.

    I started with 2L of cider and ended up with just under 1L at the end, so I’m thinking I also didn’t reduce it quite enough (I did reduce by half before adding a bit more than 1 cup of sugar, but it was hard to tell if I hit 218 degrees because it was bubbling so much I couldn’t get an accurate reading). The consistency is a bit thin for my liking.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment! Any thoughts?

    • Oops, when I said “but the cider is not remaining a liquid” above I meant “but the cider is not remaining as *thin* a liquid”.

    • I reduced my first batch further, and although the haze remains the consistency improved and the flavour of the hot drink it produced was very good. I’m going to experiment with a second batch, and probably can using jars with a diamond pattern (rather than smooth glass) if possible so it looks more attractive in case I want to give any to others.

      Thanks so much for this recipe. It’ll be great to have hot cider ready in the cupboard or fridge this winter (and beyond).

    • I had the same experience – the taste was great but it did end up looking a bit like a science experiment with the weird cloud at the bottom. I was planning on keeping them all for myself anyway and that is a great excuse not to share 🙂
      I think it is related to the pasturization process because mine did fully reduce to under half . . . .

  34. Woo hoo! We have a gallon of cider in the fridge and a house full of teenagers lamenting the end of the hot cider season… Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Now I can make up a batch of cider syrup and we will be stocked for hot cider all winter long!!

  35. So..both of my batches, despite 2.5 hours of simmering…is still really, really thin…after a 10 minute water bath, still thin as juice. I thought it might set up, but didn’t. Being new to canning…can I just leave it in the jars? They have sealed and pinged…so can I just store them or do I need to dump it down the sink? I figure it is probably just so sweet apple cider now. Thanks for any advice!

  36. i’m really excited to try this recipe but i was thinking of adding a bit of bourbon to it…do you think i’d still be able to process the syrup? if so, how much bourbon would you recommend adding? 1/4 cup?

  37. Do you have any ideas on what to do with left over juice from my crockpot apple butter? I normally dont have too much juice but these apple were so juicy. Just don’t want to throw it out…taste too good. I was thinking either syrup or jelly????
    Thanks

  38. Help! I followed the directions exactly and my syrup is very watery. I canned all these jars that I planned to use for gifts. Is there anything I can do to make it thicker? Add some corn syrup and re-can and water bath? Help!!

    Thanks! Jennifer

    • Jennifer, the only way this pie filling could possibly not have thickened is if you didn’t use Clear Jel. That stuff thickens immediately upon combination with liquid. I honestly don’t know how you would save unthickened pie filling.

      • Well I was attempting to make the apple cider syrup. Is it safe to empty all the jars I WB and reheat? Will it thicken more with the sugar? I hate to waste it all but it’s pretty much like apple juice consistency now. Thanks!

        • I’m looking for the response to this last entry Oct 17.
          I too spent 2 hrs preparing this and ended up with watery apple cider syrup
          in jars. Can I dump it all back into a pot and thicken it up… maybe I didnt
          get it hot enough (218*) ?

          • Yes, you can pour it back into the pot and cook it longer. Do know that it’s not going to be thicken like pancake syrup. It should have the thickness of the syrup they use to flavor coffee.

  39. Hi there! Love your website! Recently I was fooling around with some pear cider and cooked it down to a syrup, just all by itself. I was thinking of making more, maybe with the addition of something else for an added dimension of flavor (vanilla?) and canning it for christmas presents. My questions are: can pear cider be processed, and if so, for how long?

  40. Love this idea and can’t wait to try it! I want to give it as Christmas gifts. I thought about adding bourbon and packing it in the jars with cooked apples, cinnamon and walnuts, to make a sort of apple pie topping. Thoughts?

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