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Our Ingredients - Apple Syrup

Also known as boiled cider, apple molasses, and cider syrup, apple syrup has been made since at least 1677 in this country. Ambitious home cooks still make it today, as do a few cideries and orchards in the Northeast. In the early 1900s, the USDA encouraged apple orchardists to make apple syrup to capture more of their harvest and prolong the life of their apples. The Dutch call it appelstroop and it’s known as a health food in that country. It is made by boiling the water out of apple cider until it reaches a syrup consistency. 

Apple Syrup is a tart sweetener -- unlike table sugar, agave nectar, or corn syrup, it is complex and rich. It lacks the up-front sweetness of honey or maple syrup, but has a tangy aspect we love. We make it on our maple syrup evaporator in the fall when apple cider season is in full swing, the same way the USDA recommended doing it in 1914, along with food safety updates implemented since then. Wood is our fuel of choice. While the wood doesn’t really impart a smoky flavor (the smoke exits the sugar shack far away from the evaporating pans), the harvested, split, and stacked wood seems to tie the apple cider to the property, linking it to the generations who trod here before us (Europeans, Nehantics). 

When we realized that elderberries grew well on our farm, we searched for ways to use them. After making elderberry jam which failed to set properly, and elderflower cordial we weren’t crazy about, we broke out the older and antique cookbooks we started collecting. The Joy of Cooking 1963 edition featured an Apple Pie with Elderberries. Elderberry Apple Shots was born.