Cider jelly is one of our most popular (and most underrated) products here at the Cider Mill. Each jar is packed with pure apple flavor. And it pairs with more than toast.
Our love for cider jelly comes from an appreciation for the local apple harvest. It’s a Vermont pantry staple and we hope a jar will find its way to your kitchen too!
The fall is apple picking season here in the Northeast. Rows of apple trees come to life, branches weighed down by fresh fruit waiting to be picked. It’s the best time of the year.
But what to do with all those apples?
Today we have controlled atmosphere (CA) storage environments that allow us to enjoy whole apples throughout the year. But back in the day, the early pioneers needed ways to preserve their apple crop. Fresh apples wouldn’t last them beyond the fall.
Making cider jelly became a way to preserve the nutrients and flavors of the apple harvest. With this treat, the pioneers could enjoy the taste of apples all year. They also used the pectins in cider jelly to make other kinds of jams and jellies.
Here at the Cider Mill, we’re still making cider jelly the traditional way - just like these early pioneers. Some practices are classic for a reason.
Our Vermont cider jelly is made with 100% fresh apple cider boiled down to a fraction of its original volume before it reaches its jelly consistency.
So to make Vermont cider jelly, we first need apple cider. Our fresh cider is made on a classic rack and cloth apple press at the Cider Mill.
The cider-making process begins with our blend of locally grown McIntosh apples. We then press this apple blend, collecting every drop of the natural fruit juices. You should come to watch us press apples sometime - it’s a one-of-a-kind experience!
Now that we have fresh apple cider, we can start making our Vermont cider jelly.
We start by boiling apple cider and allowing the liquid to reduce. During this process, the water evaporates from the cider and leaves the natural sugars of the fruit.
Our experts at the Cider Mill closely watch the bubbles that form on the boiling cider. They know that when the bubbles reach a specific “fish-eye” shape, it’s time to start dropping the temperature of the liquid.
Once the cider has reached its optimal temperature then it’s time for the liquid to cool. As the liquid cools in the jars, the natural pectins in the apples transform the concentrated cider into a more jelly-like consistency.
We never add any extra pectin or sugars to our Vermont cider jelly. Some jam and jelly makers use these methods to create a sweet, gooey product more quickly. We know that the natural sugars of the apple will create the perfect jelly if you wait patiently.
The early pioneers knew this too. They made Vermont cider jelly by boiling 100% fresh apple cider made with real fruit, just like we do. And since apple pectin is so high, the pioneers also used cider jelly to bring this consistency to other jams and jellies.
It’s important for us to keep these traditional jelly-making practices alive. Classic methods taste the best and honor the Vermonters that have come before us.
Once the liquid cools, we have a spreadable cider jelly that perfectly captures the natural sweet and tart goodness of fresh apples.
And this end product is exactly what goes in our jars. Nothing is ever added. Natural cider jelly is perfect as it is.
We raised our two kids on years of peanut butter and cider jelly sandwiches for lunch (and they loved them). But there’s also plenty of other ways to use Vermont cider jelly once it's in your kitchen.
Both sweet and savory recipes call for a spoonful of Vermont cider jelly. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired.
The natural sugars in Vermont cider jelly caramelize well on meat like pork ribs or whole ham. If you glaze your meat with cider jelly, the barbecued ribs or roasted ham will have a slight apple flavor and perfectly caramelized bite.
Vermont cider jelly also makes a great glaze for more tender meats like fish. We love it on oven-baked salmon.
You can spread some Vermont cider jelly on your salmon before it goes in the oven. And if you're cooking pork, add it for the last several minutes that the meat is cooking. You can also warm the cider jelly up beforehand and add seasonings like fresh chilis for a punch of flavor.
Your next charcuterie board is asking for a spread of fresh Vermont cider jelly.
The slightly sweet and tart flavor of cider jelly pair well with many kinds of cheese. Our favorite is cheddar, of course. Spread a dollop of Vermont cider jelly on a square of cheddar for the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
Brie cheese is also a perfect match for fresh fruit. An apple’s natural sweetness pairs well with the creamy texture of a wheel of brie.
So add some brie cheese next to the Vermont cider jelly on your charcuterie board. Or take it a step further and bake the brie in the oven.
Baked brie is an easy, indulgent treat that makes every dinner party cozier. We recommend spreading Vermont cider jelly on top of a wheel of brie, wrapping the cheese in pastry dough, and then baking. The flaky, buttery pastry and sweet, smooth cheese is a hard combination to resist.
One of the easiest ways to use Vermont cider jelly is to add it as a sweetener to the dishes you’re already enjoying. Cider jelly isn’t overly sweet, making it perfect for a subtle kick of fruity flavor.
We love to add Vermont cider jelly to our baked beans. A few spoonfuls will liven up the dish with a touch of apples.
At breakfast, stir some Vermont cider jelly into your Greek yogurt or oatmeal. Both options sometimes need a dash of sweetness - just what cider jelly is good for.
Vermont cider jelly is also a great addition to sauces and dressings. We use it for the apple flavor in our Cold Hollow Cider Mustard and Cold Hollow Cider Vinaigrette. If you’re making your own salad dressing or sandwich spread, just add a spoonful of cider jelly to take the flavor up a notch.
Vermont cider jelly is the secret ingredient to many baked goods. If you’re a baker, you’ll want to make sure you have cider jelly on hand for any sweet treat!
Vermont cider jelly is an easy substitute if you’re making a dessert that requires jam or jelly. We make thumbprint cookies at the Cider Mill with our cider jelly and you could make your own at home too!
But one of our favorite cider jelly baking tips is for making pumpkin pie. Adding a spoonful of Vermont cider jelly to your pumpkin pie filling is a sneaky way to bring the pumpkin flavor to life. We use this trick at the Cider Mill as well. Once you start putting cider jelly in your pumpkin pies, there’s no turning back.
Vermont cider jelly can be used almost anytime that you’re baking with apples or other fruits. Try it in an apple crisp or as a glaze on a fresh fruit tart. Our Cold Hollow bakery marvels over the magic of fresh Vermont cider jelly every day.
The early pioneers created something magical when they started making cider jelly. It’s now a classic product of Vermont.
If you need some jars of Vermont cider jelly in your pantry, there’s plenty to go around.
Give our Cold Hollow Vermont cider jelly a try, made from 100% fresh-pressed apple cider. We think you’ll love it!