To add value to her home-grown, heirloom apples, Kirsten Shockey looked to a New England tradition.
Boiled cider was the original business plan for Mellonia Farms, the Applegate property Shockey owns with husband, Christopher. Mellonia went in another direction — fermented foods — but Shockey still reduces into syrup some of the cider produced every fall with the family's hand-cranked press.
What: "Apples, Apples, Apples," a cooking-demonstration class with Kirsten Shockey of Mellonia Farms; cost is $30
When: From 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4
Where: The Right Plan, 706 Cardley Ave., Medford
To register: Call Medford Food Co-op at 541-779-2667
"It's just pure apple," says Shockey. "It's just so delicious."
She plans to share the simple but little-known method next week, along with techniques for extending and preserving fall's quintessential fruit as juice, sauce, chutney and butter. Participants in the Thursday, Oct. 4, class will taste Shockey's dishes at The Right Plan kitchen in Medford and take home recipes.
"Of all the fruits ... to me, the apple is the most versatile," she says.
Shockey will delve deeper during a Nov. 3 class at Mellonia on Thompson Creek Road. Participants will learn about fermenting cider into an alcoholic beverage and eventually vinegar, plus they will take home a gallon of cider, either sweet or beginning to ferment. The cost is $45; time to be announced. Register at www.mellonia.com or call 541-846-1262.
It takes a lot of cider to make syrup: About a gallon yields just over a pint of concentrated liquid that contains about 67 percent sugar, says Shockey. And it takes some time: about half a day for that quantity, although the process goes quicker in a pan with a large surface area, she adds. Shockey took the idea from 1973's "The American Cider Book: The Story of America's Natural Beverage," by Vrest Orton.
The resulting syrup can be used like maple syrup, she says. Drizzle it on pancakes or ice cream or brush it onto meats and vegetables for a sweet glaze.
Short of boiling cider for syrup or drinking it outright, there are plenty of ways to use this elixir of fall in the kitchen. Cooking apples in cider instead of water produces applesauce with less added sugar. Simmer steel-cut oats in apple cider to infuse more of the fruit's flavor. In marinades, cider tenderizes meats and mitigates strong flavors of game.
Here are a few more ways to cook with apple cider:
Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. McClatchy News Service contributed to this story.