You remember the Aussie Barbecue that I went to on Cup Eve? Well, since we’re “the ones that do all the cooking”, we wound up taking home most of the leftovers. One of which was an entire gallon (nearly 4 litres!) of apple juice. I don’t drink fruit juice normally, since I prefer to spend my calorie intake on food, and I normally drink water, tea or coffee. Or martinis (not really).
On the other hand, Tobias, the Doctor, and our friend B absolutely love anything to do with apples, so they suggested that I make some apple cider for Christmas. I decided to go one step further.
Well, actually, no – it was more when I was looking up recipes for cider that I came across appelstroop, a Dutch apple syrup made from reducing apple juice to a glaze, and adding sugar and molasses. There are a couple of recipes floating around online, so I combined what I thought were the best parts of all of them.
Appelstroop – Dutch Apple Syrup
Makes 3 cups (~3 small jars). Practically no time to prep, 20-60 minutes cooking time.
4 cups apple juice – the best quality you can get, at the very least, get something with no added sugar, preservatives or colour
1 cup white sugar (the type matters, read on)
2 tbsp Molasses
Bunch of whole spices – I used 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves and a couple of pieces of mace
Large, wide saucepan
Using the widest, heaviest pan you have will reduce the amount of cooking time for this recipe. Wide, because this will increase the surface area of the liquid, hence speeding up evaporation. Heavy, because you want even heat distribution to reduce the chance of burning the syrup.
I picked up some nice looking glass jars from a discount shop nearby – since these were going to be Christmas presents, I had ideas of decorating the jars with ribbons and cute things… yeah, that totally happened.
Start by pouring the apple juice into the cold pan. I was making four times the original recipe, so I actually wound up doing this in batches.
Pour in the sugar, and carefully stir to start dissolving it. Put the pan on to medium heat, and continue stirring until it’s all dissolved.
The reason why the type of sugar matters is because:
- Different types of sugar have different sized crystals – if you used caster sugar, you’d wind up using far more, if you use raw sugar, you’d wind up using a bit less
- Raw, demerara or muscovado sugars (basically all the brown ones) have either added or natural amounts of molasses in them. Since you’re also adding molasses to the syrup, you might want to reduce that amount slightly so you don’t overwhelm the flavour of the apple juice
Don’t overfill the pan, or stirring will become difficult!
When the sugar has dissolved, add the spices and bring the heat up to high. You can cover the pan to help it come to a boil quicker, but once it’s come to the boil, remove the lid so it can start reducing.
Measure out your molasses. I first saw these plunger measuring cups on Alton Brown’s Good Eats, and managed to find a similar set at a random homewares shop. It’s much more useful for sticky ingredients like molasses, honey, peanut butter, maple syrup… All the good things in life! If you don’t have a plunger, you can spray the inside of a normal measuring cup with no-stick spray or cooking oil spray, but I find the taste of the spray carries over into the food you’re making.
While the syrup continues to reduce, wash and dry the jars and lids thoroughly. Preheat your oven to 200C, and then bake the jars for 20-25 minutes to sterilise them. If your lids are oven safe, you can sterilise them along with the jars, otherwise, a good long soak and scrub in hot water should be fine.
Ideally, you’d want to time it so that the syrup is done shortly after the jars have been sterilised, and still warm from the oven. Since I was doing this in batches, I covered the jars with a clean tea towel and put them aside while I was taking pictures. As long as the jars are not stone-cold, and the syrup not literally boiling hot, you shouldn’t have any problems with thermal shock (ie: glass exploding from heat).
Safety – it’s what’s for Christmas!
Let the syrup cool inside the uncovered jars until they are room temperature, then lid up, and put it in the fridge. Appelstroop will pretty much keep indefinitely in the fridge, but as always, if you see any furry or splotchy growths, quietly (but responsibly!) dispose of it.