One of the great things about the Catskills is that the elevation causes it to be about 5-10 degrees colder than then city, which means that it feels like Fall sooner. As soon as Michael and I finished putting in the new garden, it was time to start preparing the bees for winter and harvesting the abundance of fruit around the property. We were lucky when it came to the bees - the White House has been incredibly productive and we were able to take 3 frames for harvest, which amounted to maybe 15 pounds of honey! I've said it before and I realize it's unabashedly biased, but our honey is the best I've ever tasted.
Other than the existing apple trees that dot the land, there is one pear tree that always fruits on the early side. We picked a big basket-full and pressed it a few weeks ago so that we can experiment with making hard pear cider.
All in all, we ended up with over a dozen gallons of apple cider, most of which is going to be made into hard cider. We're still up to our necks in soft cider though, and given that it's raw and unpasteurized, it won't last past a week or so in the fridge. I remembered that Deb had a recipe for Apple Cider Caramels in her first book (who's excited for number two?), which I've adapted slightly below into a sauce. It truly doesn't disappoint - the apple cider flavor is concentrated in every single spoonful. Drizzle it over ice cream, dip apples in it, or bake it into a pie.
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes slightly over 18 oz. of caramel sauce.
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Boil the apple cider in a 3 or 4 quart saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup. Mine reached about 1/2 cup in volume and took about 40 minutes total. In the meantime, assemble and pre-measure the other ingredients.
When the apple cider is done reducing, turn off the heat and add the sugar, giving it a stir. Add in the butter and heavy cream. Turn the heat back onto medium / medium-high until it starts bubbling. Let it bubble for about 15 seconds, then immediately turn off the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt. Whisk it until the cinnamon is incorporated uniformly, and let the mixture cool a bit before transferring it to an airtight container or jar to store. Be warned, don't taste it when it comes off the stove unless you want second degree burns on your tongue.
Let the caramel cool to room temperature before serving. Enjoy the fall.