Apple Cider Molasses: The Most Versatile Baking, Cooking &
Cocktail Ingredient No One is Using
One of my favorite things about food (aside from its inherent deliciousness, textures and temperatures) is its rich history and how some creations stand the test of time, appealing to multiple generations. Apple Cider Molasses, needs a resurgence. I imagine it fell out of favor due to cost: while I wouldn’t call apple cider expensive, when you take the time + labor to reduce it to 1/10th of it’s original volume, all of a sudden
you’re looking at a pretty expensive price tag on a condiment that would sit shelf adjacent to things like molasses and vinegar, both of which are typically quite cheap.
It is, however, very easy to make at home: open a jug of cider, pour into a heavy bottomed pot, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer, and leave it for a few hours. That’s pretty much it. There are no additional ingredients. You will want to check on it every now and then, to give a quick stir and to make sure it doesn’t boil over, but otherwise, feel free to go about other chores like laundry and what not.
How thick it becomes depends entirely on how long you reduce it. There are three things happening here to contribute to the thickness. Evaporation: pretty obvious. The concentration of both the naturally occurring fructose and pectin found in apples. If you want it pourable stop
at 1/6th to 1/8th of it’s original volume. If you want it scoopable, keep going to 1/10th or even slightly longer. Just mark the outside of your pot with a piece of tape indicating where you started, and you’ll never loose track. Once it's cool, pour into your prefereed storage container and chill overnight.
Ok, I made it, Now what do I do with it?
OMG, I'm so glad you asked!!! There are so many uses….
Jazz up your breakfast by smearing on toast, pancakes or waffles, or if you’re health conscious stir it into your steel cut oats.
Add new complexity to your marinades or salad dressing: start with your basic olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Reduce the vinegar, but don’t omit it, and stir in the molasses to taste. You can toss this over a fall salad with kale, roasted squash and pumpkin seeds, or you can use it to marinate parsnips, potatoes, or celery root before roasting. The same can be said for tofu or whatever your protein of choice is.
Use it to add depth and complexity to your favorite cocktail, or to give a fall twist to a classic such as an old fashioned or an apple cider martini. The molasses is already complex, tart and sweet; you just need to add ice, your spirit of choice and a shaker.
If you’re a hobby baker, try adding it to your favorite apple recipes whether it’s a muffin, cake or pie, this will really punch up the apple flavor without the oft-over-powering impact of cinnamon.
Lastly, I’d say this makes an excellent addition to any cheeseboard, simply pour a little into a baby croque and place it next to the “stinkiest” and creamiest cheese on the plate. If your guests are anything like me, they’ll rave.
Yours in all the noms,
If you’d like to learn more about the history of ACM, read below. I’ve asked my assistant, G.P.T., to give us a brief rundown…
A Teeny Tiny History...
When we think of colonial times in America, we often conjure images of powdered wigs, muskets, and the founding fathers. But there’s a sweeter side to history that often goes overlooked – the production and consumption of apple cider molasses. In this blog post, we’ll explore the fascinating history of this sweet concoction and its role in early American life. Apple cider molasses, also known as apple molasses, apple syrup, or boiled cider, has a history as rich and layered as its flavor. It was a staple in the diet of early American settlers, especially in the northeastern colonies where apple orchards were abundant. The process of making apple cider molasses was relatively simple: apple cider was boiled down to a thick, sweet, and concentrated syrup, creating a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes. Apple cider molasses served as more than just a sweet treat. Its versatility made it a crucial ingredient in the colonial kitchen. In the absence of sugar as we know it today, apple molasses was used as a sweetener for pies, tarts, puddings, and other desserts. It could be drizzled on pancakes and waffles, used as a glaze for meats, or added to baked beans for an extra layer of flavor. The possibilities were nearly endless. One of the key reasons apple cider molasses was so valued during colonial times was its excellent preserving qualities. Long before refrigeration, preserving fruits and vegetables was a necessity. Apple molasses was used to make fruit preserves, jellies, and jams, helping families preserve their harvests and enjoy fruit flavors year-round. It was also known for its long shelf life, making it a valuable addition to any colonial pantry. Apple cider molasses was not limited to the kitchens of well-to-do colonial families. It was a common practice for households to make their own molasses. Apple orchards were widespread, and the process of making molasses was relatively straightforward, allowing many families to produce their sweet syrup at home. While the popularity of apple cider molasses waned in the 19th and 20th centuries with the availability of refined sugar, it’s experiencing a resurgence in the 21st century. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in traditional and locally sourced foods. Apple cider molasses, with its deep historical roots, has found its place in the modern culinary scene. Artisanal producers are reviving the tradition of crafting this sweet syrup, often using time-honored methods. Apple cider molasses is more than just a sweet treat; it’s a window into the culinary history of colonial America. This versatile and long-lasting ingredient was a cornerstone of colonial kitchens, preserving fruits and enhancing a wide array of dishes. Today, the revival of apple cider molasses reminds us of the deep culinary traditions that continue to shape our modern tastes, and it’s a testament to the enduring legacy of simple, yet delicious, colonial foods.