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Dear scavenger hunters, did you know that on Slow Food Ark of Taste there are no…
Dear scavenger hunters, did you know that on Slow Food Ark of Taste there are not only endangered foods but also artisanal methods? We found the third local food which is a farmstead product: Boiled Cider (Cider Syrup) and Cider Jelly. For more info and a recipe see below.
Boiled cider and cider jelly are traditional farmstead products made from the concentration of fresh, unfermented cider. Dating back to the earliest European settlers to this country, they were vital to inland New England farmers as sweeteners, and meant freedom from reliance on imported sugar cane product. The product is dark like molasses but with the consistency of maple syrup. It has the clear, concentrated apple flavor and a caramelized sweetness balanced by sharp acidity. Despite deep historical roots in rural New England, these products are largely unknown today.
Local Source: Wayland Chiles
Wayland Chilies is a small family run farm specializing in chilies. We sell the chilies fresh or dried. We make our own chipotles, chili powder, salsa and hot sauce. We also sell seeds for select chilies that we have grown in isolation to ensure the purity of the chili strain. Farming practices are certified organic, naturally grown.
Location: 180 Boston Post Road
01778 Wayland MA
Contact Information: Spencer Shearer (508) 358-9924
Home Preparation and Uses
Making boiled cider calls for fresh cider to be concentrated to about one-seventh its original volume in an open, non-reactive metal kettle, and skimmed as it boils down. The result is a clear dark amber syrup.
In terms of its main uses, boiled cider has been most often employed in baking. It is ideal for making pies (with or without dried or fresh apples) and as an ingredient in cakes, cookies, and other recipes. In fact, for any culinary use where sweetness and an apple character is desirable, it works very well. It has historically been used as an ingredient in mincemeat; in brining liquids for meat and poultry; and as a sweetener for baked beans, winter squash, and other vegetables. It was also valued for making a traditional type of applesauce, because it not only added sweetness, but a concentrated apple flavor, and improved the keeping qualities of the sauce.
Cider jelly is made from fresh apple cider that is concentrated slightly further than boiled cider – to about one-ninth the original volume of the juice. The natural pectins found in apples ensure that, if reduced far enough, the boiled cider will eventually reach the jelling stage. Without any additional sugar, the resulting jelly is “fully puckered,” in the words of one New Hampshire orchardist — with the same sweet/acid balance as boiled cider. The resulting product can be spread and used like jelly on baked goods, served with cheeses, or used like boiled cider in various ways, such as for glazing ham, chicken, or other meats.
Historically, both boiled cider and cider jelly were used by early settlers for reconstituting into juice over the winter months, which was considered not only a treat, but as a nutritional “supplement” to the winter diet. Also, both products were an important ingredient in making other jams, preserves, and jellies due the high pectin content of apples, in the period before commercial pectin was developed. This practice continues in traditional New England summer and winter kitchens to the present day.
Today, boiled cider is relatively little known except as a cultural artifact, and is certainly underappreciated, even in its traditional homeland of New England. Although a few small orchards in various parts of the U.S. do produce it, only two companies in the state of Vermont still make it in any commercial quantities. The chief exponents and marketers of boiled cider for many years have been Willis and Tina Wood, who operate a seventh-generation family farm in Springfield, Vermont. In 1798 this farm was originally settled by Willis Wood’s ancestors; in 1882 the sawmill on the property was converted into a cider mill, and succeeding generations of farmers have been producing cider (and boiled cider) ever since that time. Fresh, unpasteurized sweet cider pressed from locally grown apples is reduced into boiled cider and cider jelly in a wood-fired evaporator (similar to making maple syrup) and bottled on-site. More than anyone else, the Woods have kept the tradition of boiled cider (and cider jelly) alive in New England. Without them, it is doubtful that this product would have survived in commerce at all. Yet, even with their fidelity and persistence over the years, boiled cider remains an endangered regional food tradition.
The recent emphasis on rediscovering and celebrating America’s regional food traditions should make both boiled cider and cider jelly appealing to modern chefs and home cooks alike. Once people have tasted boiled cider, they generally devise many other, non-traditional uses for it. In 2007 one young Slow Food chef in southwestern New Hampshire developed a “caramel apple gelato” that highlights the caramelized and slightly smoky, burnt flavor of the boiled cider.