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This recipe is an unintended consequence of furnishing the kitchen with a very small refrigerator.
Friends recently gave us a huge jar of home-pressed cider. Cox’s Orange Pippin was in the mix of fruit. The jar was taxing the capacity of the shelf on the refrigerator door, so I decided to try reducing the juice, as I sometimes reduce stock to a glaze that keeps well.
Reducing a volume of liquid is one of the messiest procedures in a kitchen, since it generates masses of steam over a long period of time. Residue ends up on the ceiling, walls, and, usually, inside the cupboards, even if the fan is running. As it happens, there’s a table on the back porch that’s a convenient place to use small appliances when I want to keep the kitchen clean without using electricity for the fan.
I set up the electronic pressure cooker outside, poured in the cider, and set the cooker, sans lid, on saute’. Long minutes later when the liquid was an inch deep, I set the cooker on much lower heat and went back to what I’d been doing. When the glaze was less than a quarter of an inch deep, I set the pot on warm, found a convenient time to deal with the hot residue, and decanted it into a glass storage dish.
Usually, reducing a liquid takes a long time and requires constant attention. The cooker didn’t work any faster, but the process was nearly automatic. It could have been completely automatic, but I didn’t bother to think the timing mechanism through. I could safely ignore the pot while I puttered with housekeeping.
The glaze turned out to be thrillingly tart and intense. My first thought was that the reduction would be nearly as good with frozen apple concentrate, perhaps even with other juices. We cook without salt, and I think the glaze will be a nifty substitute or supplement for the vinegar that keeps the palate amused in the absence of sodium.
Piecrust avoidance has led me along the path of ever-simpler apple desserts. From crisp to stewed fruit is a simple step, and last night we had stewed apples seasoned with the usual plus cayenne pepper and a wee spoon of the glaze. They were sensational, and a cinch to prepare. I served them with Swedish gingersnaps and a dollop of sour cream.
The old dishes of the open hearth, the really archaic recipes in obscure chapters of early twentieth century cookbooks, are simple to prepare and require little tending. With good ingredients and some sly work with seasonings, they’re as satisfying as aggressive commercial food but much less expensive and considerably healthier.
-30- More after the jump.