Apple trees tent to produce a lot of apples. Nearly all of the apples my tree produces goes straight into the compost. The apples have, in my opinion, a weird mouth feel. This year I tried my hands at making apple syrup in the same way you would make maple syrup. This is how I did it.
If you have a juicer you can skip step one and two. I do not have a juicer.
Step 1: Grate
My thought was that the smaller the pieces of apples were, the less pressure I would need to apply in order to press the juice out of them. So I grated the apples. For this I used:
- A large pan
- A colander
- A cheese cloth
- A cutting board
- A knife
- A box grater
I had picked only the good looking apples and discarded any that had wormholes or other animal related injuries. They still had some brown spots, but I simply cut those of. I washed the apples and then I grated them. I put the grated bits in the cheese cloth that was draped over the colander that was on the pot. The core I discarded. It took about an hour to grate about eight litres of apples. This made a quite a mess.
Step 2: Press and Drain
When all the apples were grated I folded the cheese cloth over the top. I placed a bowl over the cloth and then stacked as many heave things it the bowl as it could take, without tipping over. In the end I managed to get six kilos worth of pantry items on there and then I placed the whole contraption in the fridge for about 24 hours.
After that time about one litre of juice had been extracted, so I decided to get my hands dirty, and I manually pressed nearly one more litre out of the mush. Maybe I should have done this from the start. I poured the liquid trough a sieve to catch any debris.
Step 3: Boil
Apple juice contains about 88% water, the other 12% is mainly sugar, so reducing it is going to take some time. I put the pot on the stove over medium heat and started to reduce the juice. I put a skewer in the pot and put a mark on the skewer at the level of the juice to help me keep track of the progress. I stirred the pot and checked the level every once in a while. Towards the end the syrup will turn a darker shade of brown and you will need to keep a close eye on it to keep in from burning.
A liquid is always more liquid-y when it is warm so to check the consistency I put a couple of drops of the syrup on a cold plate. Once the syrup was thick enough, to my liking I poured it into a clean bottle. Thanks to my skewer gauge I know I reduced it to about 1/8 of the original juice volume. The boiling took close to three hours.
You could theoretically reduce this all the way down to crystalline apple sugar, which I bet is delicious.
Step 4: The Product
From 8 litres of apples I got about 1.8 litres of apple juice. From about 1.8 litres of apple juice I got about 0.2 litres of apple syrup. To be honest, that required a lot of manual labor for not that much of a final product. No matter how delicious the apple syrup turned out to be, and let me tell you, it is frakking amazing, I probably wont do this again. At least not until I can get my hands on a electric juicer. If you have one, good for you. I don't.
I had planned to use the syrup as a substitute whenever a recipe asked for corn syrup or honey, but since I got so little of it, I will reserve it for pancakes and waffles. It should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Step 5: Update
After using the syrup I have a few recommendations for future trials.
- Firstly, don't bother trying to make this syrup without a proper apple press, or a juicer. It is far to much work for so little result.
- Second, don't reduce the juice quite as far as I did. The syrup I produced is more like a butter, than a syrup in consistency. I reduced the juice down to about 1/8 of its original volume, but I think reducing it to 1/6, or ever 1/4 should be sufficient.
- Lastly, thought the syrup has a lovely flavour, it is very tart. If you wish, you could add sugar to the juice before boiling it. Use your best judgement.
If anyone does try to make some of this apple syrup, I would be very interested in your results!