Boiled cider is a simple one ingredient apple cider syrup that’s perfect for topping pancakes or yogurt. It’s also ideal for infusing incredible apple flavor into baked goods.
Boiled cider is a real treat, but you don’t often hear about it outside the northeast. It was originally an old school method of preserving apples, long before refrigeration and international shipping.
Apples are pressed into cider, and then that cider is boiled down into a syrup that’s a bit like another New England staple ~ maple syrup.
Once concentrated, apple cider syrup will keep at room temperature indefinitely, which made it a valuable resource back when cider orchards were plentiful but refrigeration non-existent.
These days, boiled cider is made less for preservation and more for taste. The sweet-tart flavor of super-concentrated apple cider makes an unbelievable pancake syrup, and it’s the perfect sweetener for adding apple flavor to all manner of baked goods.
Choosing Cider for Homemade Boiled Cider
Boiled cider is made from just one ingredient…fresh apple cider, but not all cider is the same. The cider you’d use to make hard cider contains a lot of tannic apples that add character to the fermentation. Similarly, most modern grocery store apples are “dessert” apples without enough acidity to create a balanced cider.
If you’re pressing cider for boiled cider, as we sometimes do with our double-barrel cider press, choose a mixture of sweet and acidic apples. A little extra acidity will help bring out the flavor of the finished cider syrup.
When buying store-bought cider, just about any preservative-free drinking cider will do. Pasteurized is fine, but avoid cider with chemical preservatives like potassium sorbate, or additives like “apple flavoring.” Stick with real cider.
If there’s anything else in the cider, you’ll be concentrating it into the finished boiled cider with potentially disastrous (or at least disgusting) results.
How to Make Boiled Cider
Once you have cider in hand, pour it into a deep-sided, heavy-bottomed stockpot. It’s going to bubble up during cooking, so make sure you have plenty of headspace. A 6-quart pot works perfectly for one gallon of cider.
Pour the cider into the pot and crank the stove on high.
While the cider is coming up to temperature, mark the depth of the liquid in the pot on a wooden skewer. This will help you determine when the boiled cider is finished.
The finished volume should be 1/7th the starting volume. Mark the fluid level, and then divide the space into 7 equal distances. Set the skewer aside, you won’t need it until the boiled cider is nearly finished.
As the cider comes to a boil, the natural pectin inside the juice will congeal into a foam. That’s totally normal, but it’ll be in the finished cider syrup if you don’t remove it.
Skimming it off with a spoon works decently, but I’d actually suggest allowing the cider to boil hard for about half an hour and then pour it all through a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh strainer.
After that, return the filtered cider to the pot and continue cooking the cider syrup. After that initial filtering step, turn the heat down to medium/low and allow the cider to simmer.
The lower the cider cooks, the more flavor it’ll retain. I know, your house smells amazing when it’s boiling hard, but the more aroma that’s driven into the air means less in the finished syrup.
All in all, it takes around 4 to 6 hours of simmering to make boiled cider, so be patient.
Keep a close eye as the cider starts to get down to the 1/7th volume mark. As it gets close, turn the heat down even lower to prevent scorching.
When is Boiled Cider Finished?
So most people use the wooden skewer method to measure the depth of the cider and then finish boiling the cider once it reaches the 1/7th mark. There is a more scientific method though…an instant-read thermometer.
The sugar in apple cider is fructose, which is a bit different than maple syrup’s glucose. Our homemade maple syrup finishes at 7.5 degrees above the boiling point of water. Birch syrup (made from birch trees), on the other hand, is fructose just like apple cider.
The finishing temperature for boiled cider is 13 degrees above the boiling point of water or 225 degrees F at sea level. That’s the same as birch syrup.
We’re at about 1000 feet above sea level, and the boiling point of water drops 1 degree for every 500 feet of elevation. Our cider syrup finishes at 223, just like our birch syrup.
Storing Boiled Cider
Properly made boiled cider, believe it or not, is actually shelf stable just like maple syrup. If you’re going to use it within a few months, just keep it in a sealed container at room temperature.
(This assumes it’s cooked completely until it’s 1/7th its original volume. If less concentrated, then the boiled cider can ferment.)
If you’re planning on storing it for extended periods, canning is a good option just to prevent surface mold. Over time, condensation can form on the very surface of the boiled cider and cause it to mold on the surface (again, just like maple syrup).
The process for canning boiled cider is the same as canning maple syrup, and it’s not technically canning in the true sense of the word. Hot syrup is poured into clean, dry canning jars, leaving as little headspace as possible (around 1/4 inch).
Seal with 2 part canning lids and the heat from the syrup will cause a vacuum to seal the jar (no water bath canning required).
Recipes Using Boiled Cider
Looking for ways to use boiled cider? King Arthur flour has a list of ways, including on top of pancakes and oatmeal of course.
As for actual recipes, try using it in place of maple syrup, honey or corn syrup in recipes. It’ll change the character of the finished baked goods, giving it an incredibly sweet/tart apple flavor.
If you’re looking for something to really feature boiled cider, try Apple Cider Caramels or Boiled Cider Glaze (for cakes and loaves).
Homemade Boiled Cider (Apple Cider Syrup)
Homemade cider syrup is the perfect natural sweetener, just bursting with fresh apple flavor.
- 1 Gallon Apple Cider (Preservative Free)
- Pour the apple cider into a 6 quart non-reactive stockpot or dutch oven. (Don't use aluminum or copper.) Mark the depth of the cider on a wooden skewer.
- Bring the cider to a boil and cook for about half an hour.
- Pour the cider through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer to remove the pectin.
- Clean the pot and return the filtered cider to the pot.
- Return the cider to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium/low.
- Simmer the cider for 4 to 6 hours, until it's reached 1/7th it's original volume (as measured on a wooden skewer). Alternately use an instant-read thermometer. The finish temperature is 225 degrees at sea level, and drops by 1 degree for every 500 feet in elevation rise.
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More Apple Preservation Recipes
Looking for more ways to preserve this autumn’s bounty?
- 30+ Ways to Preserve Apples
- Canning Apple Cider
- Apple Wine
- Canning Applesauce
- Apple Butter
- Canning Apple Pie Filling
- Best Winter Storage Apples
- Storing Apples without a Root Cellar
Thank you for this wonderful article! Our winters are too unpredictable to rely on tapping every year but I really want to have a syrup on hand in food storage. I’m buying fantastic real maple syrup at the moment but really want something I can make myself.
Your articles always answer my questions!
Could this be made the same way with pears?
Hi Ashley,Love your info letter!! In this recipe, when talking about cider you mean to say apple juice?
because for me , cider contains alcohol, so is fermented juice?
Good point. To people in the northeast US, cider is unfiltered raw apple juice (not fermented). Apple juice around here is the totally flavorless yellow/clear colored stuff you can buy in the grocery store asiles, not in the refrigerator at all. Heavily treated and filtered, leaving little more than sugar water with a bit of yellow coloring. In many other parts of the world, cider means what we call “Hard Cider” but really, any cider will turn into hard cider quick enough without pasteurization.
So to answer your question, yes, I mean fresh apple juice that’s not fermented but also not heavily filtered and processed as juice is commonly here. Fresh pressed apple juice, as it used to belong before supermarkets and such.
thank you so much to clear this up!
yes the stuff sold as apple juice is in reality a hoorible type of apple-ade.
Here in Québec we have access to organic apple juice, non pasteurized and oh so good with all fibre still in it.
Thanks for your reply,
I use a juicer for making all sorts of vegetable and fruit juices and combinations. Would fresh squeezed apple juice be the same as pressed cider? It’s nothing but the juice right from the apple.
That should work wonderfully.
Hi! I was hoping you would tag “How to make Apple Cider Vinegar”………. have you done this and posted about the process? I would love to make it as well as your Boiled Apple Cider.
Your Neighbor in VT
That one’s coming up soon! I’ve got a batch going, just need some good photos.
Paula in NH
unfortunately I found your page AFTER I’ve been simmering my cider for hours and it hasn’t thickened….potassium sorbate, I’m guessing is the culprit. Going to cool it, chill it and taste it, if it’s flavorful enough I’ll add sugar and make an apple syrup out of it…or try to see what happens. Thank you for the info !
You’re very welcome.
Hi Ashley – Love your content. I make the Apple Syrup in our food dehydrator at 160 degrees faranheight. That is the highest setting on the Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator.
I pour a gallon of juice in a stainless steel bowl. In 24 hours it is reduced to one quart. Then I pour it into 2 16 oz. wide mouth mason jars. I plce the 2 jars in the dehydrator for another 10 or 12 hours or till it is about 1 pint. total . It then can be placed in one jar and I am done. Because it is hot it seals. I could put it in a hot water bath at that time if I wanted to keep it for a long time. I think avoiding the boiling might be better for nutrition but I don’t know for sure.
Wow, I’ve never considered making it in a dehydrator before, but now I’m going to have to try it. Thanks!
So i tried to make apple cider vinegar about 3 months ago, i usually make it without problems, but this time it didn’t turn to vinegar, it has remained in the jar in my cupboard sitting there, it is dark in colour and tastes like real hard cider. Im not to keen on drinking it or testing it out for alcohol efficiency, but thought maybe could i use it in this recipe to make syrup? i don’t want to throw it away, took me ages to make it and with special apples. I thought if i leave it a little longer will it turn to vinegar? Either way, I’m keen to check out the cider syrup..yummy
Sadly, if it’s hard cider then most the sugar has been eaten by the yeast and there won’t be any left to make this work. Vinegar can take forever sometimes, and 3-6 months isn’t uncommon if it’s cold in the room. Bring it to a warmer spot, stir it regularly (vinegar needs oxygen to work) and try pitching it again with a few tablespoons of raw cider vinegar (with the mother culture). That should speed it along.
If it doesn’t get to syrup, can you reheat after a. Day has passed.?
Yes, that should still work.
I was just given 2 gallons of apple cider. It has potassium sorbate in it… Is that going to alter the flavor of the syrup
Good question and I don’t know the answer. It will concentrate the preservative, which is not how it was intended to be consumed. I cant imagine eating a bulk dose of potassium sorbate is all that good for you, but I can’t say for sure. I also don’t know if it imparts any taste at all.
I used your thermometer method. At 1200ft elevation, also used your adjusted temp. Ended up with good color, but barely 10 oz. Decanted into glass syrup jug with ceramic cap, but it is not pourable one bit. Fear I have made apple hard candy. Can this be rescued?
If it’s overcooked you can re-melt it down by dissolving it in more cider and re-cooking. The re-cooked syrup will have a stronger flavor, but it is recoverable. Sorry that happened to you, not sure what could be amiss there, but definitely try stopping at a lower temperature. It shouldn’t reach hard candy or even softball stage until it’s a good bit warmer than syrup (like around 235-240 degrees F). Maybe your thermometer is off by a bit?
I made this, but I can’t tell if I scorched it or not…my teen was supposed to shut it off, and it stayed on the stove at a hard boil 1/2 longer than it shoudl have..it has a caramel-y kind of taste..not sure if I’m getting “scorched” taste or simply cooked down apple taste…how do I know??
Does the flavor taste bad to you? If it tastes scorched then it probably is.
Timothy D Perkins
Actually, maple syrup is predominantly sucrose. Darker maple syrup typically contains a small amount of glucose and fructose.
Thank you for all of your detailed directions and photos! So helpful. Boiled cider before this was just a simple simmering until it was thick enough or I needed the stovetop for something else, but it was always delicious – how could it not be? Now, thanks to your wonderful post I have a plan for making honest boiled cider.
But why is it important to remove the pectin? Is hard boiling in the beginning the only way to remove it?
Leaving the pectin will affect the flavor and texture. Hard boiling is the only way to remove it.
I made this for dessert for thanksgiving. I poured a bit on plain cheesecake and it was delicious! I used honey crisp cider and wow!!!
I have had great success using HEB brand frozen apple juice concentrate. No preservatives, cuts the boiling time down to less than an hour, and appears to have little pectin, so no skimming!
Awesome, good to know!
I’m trying to use the extra juice from my sour cherries to make cherry syrup. What step would I start at. I’m sorry I new to all this but really enjoy it.
Here is another post for Chokecherry Syrup. You should be able to follow these same directions for a syrup made from sour cherries as well. https://practicalselfreliance.com/chokecherry-syrup/
Have you ever tried reconstituting the syrup into drinking cider? Trying to figure out a space efficient way to store the cider we make.
Yes I have. It’s really tasty. Not quite that “fresh” cider flavor, but it’s fabulous nonetheless.