Boiled Cider Is The Key Ingredient To Elevate Apple Pie

Apple cider is woven into the autumnal zeitgeist for a reason (it rocks). But, if you haven't met boiled cider, allow us the supreme pleasure of introducing you: Apple cider is the raw, unfiltered, unsweetened, unpasteurized juice from pressed fresh apples. Boiled cider takes it a step further, reducing cider down into a thick syrup with honey-like viscosity. As it simmers, the liquid slowly evaporates, leaving behind the solids and making boiled cider effectively just super concentrated apple cider. Boiled cider might have started as a thrifty method for colonial Northeastern farmers to preserve their apples into the winter months, but nowadays, it's all that stands between you and an apple pie that'll get your guests talking.

To make it work for your apple pie, simply toss your cubed apples in the boiled cider syrup before spreading them into your pie crust. Adding this sticky ingredient to your regular apple pie recipe will create a richer bite and a thicker filling. But, more than an elevated mouthfeel, boiled cider adds a sweet-tart darkness to bright apple pie, creating instant dimensionality and sophistication.

For flavorful bonus points and an impressive presentation, you could also serve your pie beside a glass pitcher of boiled cider to top each slice. Feel free to get a little creative with add-ins here, too. Cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves, orange peel, spiced rum, or a splash of vanilla extract would all make delicious complements.

Add depth and complexity to every cozy slice

If you're making your cider from scratch, use a mixture of sweet and acidic apples for the best flavor. If store-bought is more your style, look for a cider specifically labeled as "preservative-free." While artificial flavors and chemicals might pass in a glass, whatever's in that cider is going to get concentrated and boiled down, so the ingredients count extra here. A trip to your local orchard might be in order to get the good stuff (plus it's a fun way to spend an afternoon). 

All it takes to make this pie-changing ingredient is apple cider and a cast iron pot or Dutch oven. Simply boil and then slow-simmer that cider, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, especially toward the end. The boiled cider is finished when the surface is covered in dark copper-colored bubbles As it boils, the natural pectin in the cider congeals into a foam, which you can leave or skim off with a spoon. Admittedly, whipping up boiled cider is a time investment, taking up to six hours to complete. But, the rounded, complex baked-apple flavor is well worth the wait. Plus, if you make a big batch of it, you can keep your boiled cider on hand to use in other autumnal recipes throughout the season.

In general, you'll end up with about one-seventh or one-eighth of your original starting liquid volume. One gallon of cider reduces to roughly 2 cups of syrup.