Apple cider is practically the official beverage of the fall foliage season in the United States. But you’re far less likely to find its concentrated sibling, boiled cider, at local farm stands. This traditional New England sweetener, which dates back to colonial times, is made by reducing fresh cider into a thick, gooey, dark liquid also called “apple molasses.”
In rural New England, cooks used boiled cider to enhance baked goods, such as the namesake boiled cider pie, as well as mincemeat, sauces, and vegetable dishes, Slow Food USA notes. Preserving cider by boiling it also helped families extend the use of their apple crops. When supplies of fresh cider had been exhausted, a little of the boiled-down version could be mixed with water.
Boiled cider was popular in part because it was easy to make. Unlike sugar and regular molasses, which were imported from Caribbean plantations worked by enslaved Africans, apple molasses could be produced locally. Once a New England household staple, it fell out of favor by World War II, the victim of cheaper sugar and a dwindling number of commercial cider mills. Today, only a handful of producers remain in Vermont.
Need to Know
The concentrated liquid packs an intense caramelized apple cider flavor that's great drizzled on pancakes and stirred into cocktails. If you've got some cider (not the hard kind) and a few hours, and want to make your own, you can try this recipe.
Where to Try It
Wood's Cider Mill Website1482 Weathersfield Center Rd., Springfield, Vermont, 05156, United States
This family-owned mill sells boiled cider, cider jelly, maple syrup, and cider syrup, which is a blend of maple syrup and boiled cider. Visitors are welcome during the fall pressing season. You can also order their products online.