As I have already used apple syrup in some form in this blog, I thought I’d take a closer look at the different products available. Apple syrup comes in many guises – a little like apples really. When comparing a Granny Smith with a Cox’s Orange – it is almost as if you are not comparing apples with apples. And so it is with apple syrup. New Zealand made sweet apple syrup is very similar in viscosity to maple syrup and I use it in any recipe that calls for golden or maple syrup. There is also tart apple syrup by Gusto and Fresh Fields make an Apple Syrup. The Gusto tart apple syrup is darker and more molassey than their sweet syrup – I use it in recipes calling for treacle, though it is more runny than treacle. The Fresh Fields Apple syrup is closer to appelstroop in flavour. It is the darkest of the New Zealand made apple syrups I have found so far and this could be used in any recipe that calls for molasses.
I like to find new flavours and products to play with in the kitchen and so on a visit to Cambridge, I browsed the Dutch shop there. It is interesting that I remember the shop to be a Dutch shop – most likely because I purchased a Dutch food product from there. But when I went to look for the Dutch shop in Cambridge, I found there wasn’t one. So on Google maps, I walked down the street (well, my fingers walked) where I remembered the supposedly Dutch shop to be and I found Dante’s Fine Foods. So I’m supposing that this is where I first became aware of appelstroop as it was talked up by my mother-in-law who was born in the Netherlands. From her enthusiastic explanation, I imagined it to be apple flavoured spread similar to lemon curd so I purchased a pottle. The container hides any sign of the appelstroop which may have given the game away. Anyhow, back home in the kitchen, salivating over the thought of apples on toast, I find that appelstroop is more Marmite than lemon curd and so it was moved to the back of the cupboard to share space with the molasses and treacle.
I have since learned that I like appelstroop: a spoonful in casseroles or gravy, in place of honey in muesli and in any recipe that calls for blackstrap molasses, just not on toast. I buy appelstroop from our bulk bins store, but any Dutch food shop will stock it and some cheese shops also have it. In fact, it is far easier to find than Marmite (even Promite is scarce here in Gisborne at the moment). And if you can’t find any, you can always make your own. I like to make everything from scratch at least once – some we go on to make always from scratch such as yoghurt and bread, others are put in the just a little bit too hard basket (peanut butter) and I find a source of natural stuff so good you don’t need to make your own.
So I set out to make the black gloopy paste that the Dutch call appelstroop. The first step was to check the back of the pottle to see the ingredients – however I didn’t learn any Dutch at school so I struggled the further down the ingredient list I got. Luckily help arrived in the form of Google. There aren’t huge amounts of recipes in cyber space but I found three or four to try. The first I tried was the easiest and is a very nice highly spiced apple syrup but appelstroop it isn’t. I used a cinnamon stick rather than ground cinnamon – actually I think I ended up with a stick of cassia but no matter, it was still really good. I also zested the lemon and left the long strips in the syrup as I think they look pretty.
Spiced Apple Syrup
Adapted from About.com Apple Syrup (Appelstroop)
1.5 litres apple juice
juice and zest of 1 large lemon
2 whole star anise
1 whole cinnamon stick
100g raw sugar
Place the apple juice, lemon juice, zest and whole spices into a large pot. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer until the quantity of liquid is reduced to a quarter of the original quantity.
Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Continue to cook until the liquid is syrupy (the syrup should coat the back of a spoon but still drip off).
Fish out the whole spices and rinse under running cold water. Save them to make Spiced Sugar.
Pour the hot syrup into a hot steralized jar and allow to cool. Makes 1 – 1½ cups. Use as you would honey, apple syrup or anything like that. It is good over ice cream, or make a yum hot apple drink.