Apple Cider Syrup and Vinaigrette

…or “How the North Got Its Own Balsamic Flavor”



This is about those ideas, the little tidbits that you hear in passing, those half-overheard conversations on a bus, that can change your way of thinking.  A small suggestion riding the radio waves when you’re barely listening, lightly washes ashore, letting you see that it can become one of your mainstays, one of your staples.


Gotta love those sneaky little ideas.


I was driving home from work around 12 years ago in the fall, listening to the radio, and Jean Feraca was interviewing Odessa Piper of L’Etoile in Madison.  She spoke of reducing apple cider into a syrup, like maple sap into maple syrup.  I had reduced balsamic vinegar before, but apple cider had never occurred to me.  I felt the lightning strike, but didn’t know the effects would be so enduring.  I rushed home to try out this little task.



Reduced apple cider is amazing.  I promptly adopted it into my home and catering arsenal, and it is now one of my favorite little twists to introduce.


I’ve been experimenting with ways of using ingredients from the Upper Midwest to get the attributes of more exotic ingredients that we adore.  Looking at flavor, brightness and texture of my favorite items like balsamic vinegar, or avocados, and seeing what is local and around us that can satisfy that mouth-feel or that twang.


Apple Cider Syrup has become my solar panel, my regional alternative energy source that serves so many purposes.  A leeeeetle dramatic?  Well, maybe, but who cares!  It’s tangy, sweet, deep, dark, mysterious, cheery, and I can buy a pile of local apple cider right now and preserve it for months (refrigerated).


And the Cooking Technique for this post?  Reduce.  You can simmer nearly any liquid in half to concentrate the flavors, or continue reducing to get a sauce or syrup. Try grape juice, or pineapple juice, or whey, or beef stock. It’s a great way to make something less liquid, more potent.




Apple Cider Syrup

Simmer in a stainless steel pot:

1 gallon of apple cider (not juice, not vinegar)

Simmer for many hours on low heat, until it has reduced to about 1/8 of the original amount.

One gallon of cider will yield nearly 2 cups of cider syrup.


It will take most of a day, but your house will smell great!

As it turns into a syrup it can eventually burn, so keep a watchful eye on it as it becomes thick.


This one is reduced to a thick syrup.
Check out the beautiful plate by Elisabeth Maurland.



This isn’t the last you’ll be hearing of Apple Cider Syrup!

Try it on ice cream, cook it in stews, add it to pie.  Or try it as a vinaigrette.





Cider Syrup Vinaigrette

1/3 – 1/2 c. apple cider syrup

1/3 canola or olive oil

1/3 cider vinegar

dash of salt and pepper to taste

Play around with ratios for different effects.

Store in refrigerator.   Stir before using.


Keep an eye or an ear or a taste bud out for your own sneaky little ideas…

they’re out there!



4 thoughts on “Apple Cider Syrup and Vinaigrette”

    • I haven’t tried reducing the cider vinegar yet, just the apple cider. But now I may have to try the cider vinegar! -R.

  • I had already noticed how you use a plate or a bowl in your photographs to make a visual work of art, as well as the culinary one (specifically, the cheese platter yesterday), and I meant to compliment you on that.
    And today, I see you’re using one of my plates!
    Thank you! I am excited to see more posts.


  • Ruth, thanks for sharing all of your ideas! I’ve heard of Odessa Piper and I’ve been to L’Etoile when I lived in Madison. Funny thing that your creations sort of evolved from that idea. I just love what you do! I have yet to try this, but I will.


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