We bought some apple cider when we went apple picking a few weeks ago, and while it's tasty stuff it seems it's not what people wanted to be spending their sweet budget on: we still had 2/3 of it left three weeks later. I decided to reduce it and make syrup, partly so that it would keep longer but mostly because apple cider syrup seemed like a fun ingredient to have available.
I put the cider in the slow cooker, the same way Julia reduces sap to make maple syrup. Possibly I should have filtered it first, but I didn't. I left it all day with the lid cracked so liquid could escape. Occasionally one of us would check on it, including tipping the lid over the sink to ditch the condensate, and ~8hr later it was down to ~1/8 the original volume.
It's very flavorful, and I can think of a lot of ways I might incorporate it into desserts.
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Note for British readers (and maybe others?): in the US, "cider" means what we call "apple juice". (In the UK, "cider" means what I think you call "hard cider", an alcoholic drink made by fermenting apples.)
(Actually, I think it's a bit more complicated: in some parts of the US, "cider" means what we call apple juice and "hard cider" means the alcoholic stuff, but in other parts "apple cider" (which is what Jeff wrote here) means what we call "apple juice" and only without the qualifier does "cider" denote the alcoholic drink. But here in the UK, "apple cider" definitely means something alcoholic, even with the qualifier.)
I would assume that applying this procedure to what-we-call-cider would get rid of all the alcohol, since it gets rid of most of the water and alcohol is more volatile, but it is less sweet because some of that alcohol "used to be sugar" and probably there are other flavour differences.
To further muddy things, apple cider in the US is unfiltered and unpastereuzied, whereas apple juice is typically filtered and pasteurized.
I agree about the filtration (apple cider is opaque and dark, while apple juice is clear and light) but I think both are usually pasteurized. At least this cider container says it's was.
I don't know whether this is the filtration or apple variety choices, but what's sold here as apple cider generally has a much more complex and interesting flavor than apple juice.
Thanks for pointing this out! I'm talking about a simple drink made by squeezing the the juice out of apples.
When making this yourself you first chip the apples:
Then you press them:
This particular cider was made commercially, and had been pasteurized.
It's also available commercially, e.g., from King Arthur Baking. It's usually called something like "New England Boiled Cider". It has a long and interesting history linked with the anti-slavery movement, since it was an alternative to molasses which was produced on sugar plantations in the South with slave labor. It fell out of frequent use sometime during WWII, I dont' know why.
I use it a lot in apple pies, as a way to amp up the apple flavor without too much additional sweetness.
There also used to be a popular thing called "Boiled Cider Pie", whose filling was a custard made from this. James Beard has an intriguing variation involving grated apples that's in my kitchen queue.
Your 8:1 reduction is more extreme than I've seen before; usually recipes go for 5x or 6x reduction.
I also really like the flavor:sugar ratio relative to most syrups.
My measurement isn't very precise: it might have been more like 6x