Country Kitchen: Enjoy Apple Cider Time

Country Kitchen: Enjoy Apple Cider Time
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Apple cider as a beverage and cooking ingredient has been popular in New England since colonial days. Next to water, cider was the most abundant and cheapest beverage, especially at apple harvest time.
Homemakers served cider at meals and offered it to guests. Apple cider was used for barter, as noted in an early 1800 diary, "one-half barrel of cider for Mary's schooling."

According to newspaperman Horace Greeley, cider was very abundant and cheap in New Hampshire when he lived there. It often sold for one dollar a barrel.

The Cider Age

Colonial days sometimes were called the "cider age" in American history. It's said that during this era more applejack (hard cider) than corn whiskey was available for the frontiersman.

When the temperance movement flourished in America in the 1830s, teetotalers were determined to stamp out the evils of hard cider. It's said they took up their axes and whacked away at whole orchards, with little thought of the delicious apple pies, baked apples, and applesauce they also were eliminating.

Various Groups Used Cider

The Pennsylvania Dutch favored apple cider for their own consumption, to sell, and for making vinegar and apple butter.

The Shakers, that communal religious sect of the 1800s, also made delicious cider which they used in their communities and sold to outsiders. These perfectionists made cider only from the best apples, not from the culls, drops or bruised ones. This perhaps made their cider so outstanding.

Their cider was made from the crushed apples, then passed through a straw sieve and allowed to run off into barrels. The barrels then were placed in a cool cellar.

After the Shakers advocated total abstinence from alcoholic beverages, they pasteurized their sweet cider to prevent fermentation.

Cider in Cooking

Cider doesn't need to be used only as a beverage. Many recipes developed during the cider era called for this liquid as one of the ingredients. Variation of these recipes have been adapted for modern cooks.

CIDER SAUCE for puddings - Blend 1 tablespoon butter with 3/4 tablespoon flour over low heat. Add 1 1/2 cups boiled down cider, stirring until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and boil 5 minutes. Serve hot over pudding or cake.

APPLE CIDER UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE - Pare and core 3 medium apples. Slice thin. Simmer apples in 1 cup apple cider about 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain the apples and reserve the cider.

Combine 2 tablespoons hot cider with 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and 1/3 cup butter or margarine in 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Set the pan in a 350 degree F. oven for five minutes. Remove when butter has melted.

Prepare one package spice cake mix according to directions. Arrange apple slices on the brown sugar in the baking pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired. Cover with spice cake batter.

Bake at 350 degrees F. until cake tests done...see directions on cake mix box. Invert cake and let stand a few minutes before removing the pan. Serve warm or cold with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream.

(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

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About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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