Matthew Evans Apple Syrup

 

 

 

Matthew Evans of Fat Pig Farm fame has a colourful new recipe book out featuring 97 methods for classic preserving. Not Just Jam (Murdoch Books) takes us back down on the farm and shows how to preserve some of our old favourites. Here’s Matt’s method for making delish Apple Syrup – brilliant for pancakes or pouring over ice cream. Give it a go!

MAKES ABOUT 500 ML (17 FL OZ/2 CUPS) OF CONCENTRATE

Apple syrup is a lovely, condensed version of apple juice. In areas that don’t have maple trees, it is sometimes used in the place of maple syrup, because as it boils down you end up with a similar type of syrup that is both sour and sweet. While maple has, perhaps, more nuance, apple syrup more than makes up for that with its delicious flavour and range of uses. We put it on pancakes, on crumpets or over ice cream with a few roasted hazelnuts. We’ve used it in drinks, to flavour cream for cakes: the list goes on. Ideally, buy apple juice from a local company in bulk to justify the energy used to reduce it down. You can add a whole clove or two or a cinnamon stick to give it another dimension. Cheats may use a little sugar to help speed up the process and give a greater yield, but we think the pure sweetness of the apple is best unadulterated.

Ingredients

5 litres (175 fl oz/20 cups) cloudy apple juice (pasteurised is fine)

Wash and sterilise a 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cup) bottle (Sterilising methods are listed below.)

 Method

Put the apple juice in as wide a pan as you have. (Wider means it will reduce quicker.) Bring it to the boil over high heat, then turn it down to a simmer. You want the apple juice to get to about 10 per cent of its original volume. Simmer the juice right down, perhaps rubbing a spatula over the bottom of the pan every now and then to ensure it’s not catching. e consistency you’re looking for is pretty much identical to maple syrup, so test on a saucer that’s been chilled in the fridge (as hot sauce is always runny). When ready, pour into the warmed bottle and store in the pantry until opened, then store in the fridge.

 

Matthew Evans

 

Sterilisation (listed on Page 10 of Not Just Jam)

This is the big one. In the age of refrigeration we’ve oen forgotten how much mould and yeast thrive when le unchecked. You can preserve things through excluding oxygen (tight-fitting lids), introducing an acid (pickled foods), and by adding enough sugar or salt. But even then it’s important to start with really clean implements, and to store things in sterilised jars with sterile lids. So wash your storing jars or containers really well before sterilising.

THE HEAT METHOD
(a dishwasher is a good place to start)
Heat kills bugs, and bugs can cause your preserves to lose quality, or even go off. If you want to sterilise just one bottle, or a few jars, you can place them in a saucepan of cold water, on their sides, making sure they’re full of water and submerged. Put their lids in there too. Bring this pot to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. is will kill just about all the bugs you’re worried about. The only downside of this method is that it is a little tricky to take hot bottles from a pot of boiling water, though there are special tongs on the market to help you. A good thing to note is that hot sauces and jams will crack a cold jar, and this method allows you to have your jars prewarmed ready to pour in a hot conserve. Dishwashers, with a hot rinse cycle, also sterilise the jars, so that could be an easier method. Be sure, when dealing with hot jars, not to put them onto a cold surface or they will crack. Always put them onto a wooden board. Cold jars will also crack if they have very hot things put in them, so warm the jars a little first, using warm water or similar. THE

MICROWAVE METHOD
Don’t do this to the wrong type of lid—metal ones—but jars can be sterilised effectively in the microwave because yeasts and bacteria are killed while the glass stays inert. Simply put the jars and lids in the microwave for 1 minute on High.

THE CHEMICAL METHOD
There are commonly available sterilising chemicals, such as sodium metabisulphite, that act to kill bugs. Most are diluted in water, and you simply immerse the bottles for a few minutes. Some people prefer to avoid these chemicals; particularly those on septic systems, as the sterilising liquid can interfere with the good work the bacteria in your septic tank get up to. Home-brew shops are a great place to find sterilising chemicals that are easy to use and cheap. The baby supplies aisle of the supermarket is another place to look, though (like so many things to do with babies) the prices tend to be steeper.

 

 

Images and text from Not Just Jam by Matthew Evans, photography by Alan Benson. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.

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