As a child, our parents used to take us camping at Myrtle Beach every year. Since we always went around the same time, it was common for us to encounter the same campers there, year after year.
One family had several children. At dinner time, their youngest would leave their picnic table and wander around the campground, visiting other camping guests. The routine was the same every time. She would stop at every table, stand right next to one of the other children, look in their plate and ask, “Whatcha eat’n?” We could have a very obvious hot dog in our hands, it did not matter. Always the same question, “Whatcha eat’n?”
Was this child trying to make us more self-aware? The question was always the same, but in hind sight I must wonder if perhaps the answer was always the same as well. Granted camping is usually a time for leisure and simplicity, but had we fallen prey to a pattern, even at home?
I am afraid the answer is a resounding yes. There are at least three reasons why people try making new foods: Guests are coming for dinner, an irresistible love of cooking or a change of diet. One thing is for sure, as complex and elaborate as any recipe can be, it is often its simplest components that provide the greatest experiences of flavor. Take cider, for instance.
I am willing to bet that for most of us the word cider immediately conjures up the richly colored, tart and sweet beverage and autumn. We do not think of the apple or the process that turns it into this healthful beverage and we do not think of all the possibilities. We do know the benefits of drinking it and even rinsing our hair with it, but if cider is a tonic for the hair, it is most assuredly a savory elixir for the plate.
This is why so many individuals and chefs make their own cider. It is not just any other ingredient and it is best, it seems, when prepared with one’s own two hands, for flavor is as much a product of loving labor as it is a product of the fruit itself. So what do cider-loving and cider-discovering folks make with cider?
American settlers made boiled cider. This, in fact, was a simple way of preserving it. Boiled cider becomes syrupy, like molasses, but unlike old cider that turns to vinegar, it preserves its sweetness and a taste so divine. And then the things you can make…
Use it in bread recipes instead of molasses
Drizzle it over yogurt or ice cream
Add it to smoothies
Add it to seltzer water for a home-made (and healthy) soda
Stir it in you tea
Use it to glaze meats
Add it to pies and icing for cakes
Stir it into your oatmeal
Stir it into cream cheese for a sweet dip to serve with your favorite crackers
Use it in your French toast batter
A cider press makes a lot more than just cider… and cider is not just for drinking!