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Vermont Apple Cider Jelly
A naturally sweet apple cider-flavored jelly with no sugar, preservatives or other ingredients added. The apples are ground and pressed in an 18th century cider press on a farm in Vermont, and the entire process is done by hand on a 150 year old family-run cider mill. (more info)
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If you wandered down a dusty road in the town of Weathersfield, nestled in the meadows of southern central Vermont, you might stumble onto the homestead of the Wood family and see a new truckload of apples being dropped into the cider screw press the family purchased from the Empire State Press Company in 1882, and onto the conveyer belt where they’ll be pressed into cider.
Cider jelly is evaporated apple cider, with a 9 to 1 volume of the original cider. It's naturally sweet with a taste similar to apple butter, with no sweeteners, corn syrup or preservatives added. The apples used to make the jelly are ground and pressed in the Wood’s mill sugarhouse and cider mill house, then the cider is cooked. The natural pectins in apples allow the jelling phase to occur after a few hours in the wood-fired stainless steel evaporator the Wood family uses for making all their jelly.
Use it on meats, toast, and as an ingredient in fall baking. Put it on a peanut butter sandwich or spread on a bagel with cream cheese. Replace all your grape, strawberry and blueberry varieties for a seasonal treat all year. Try our recipe below for a cider-soy glaze. No refrigeration needed.
Recipe for Cider-Soy Glaze
1 cup cider jelly
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Directions: Heat in a saucepan over low heat. Drizzle warm cider soy glaze over the top of your meat dish and enjoy.
When the Wood family bought a water powered twin-screw saw mill in 1882, they turned it into a cider mill. At the time, saw mills were no longer as heavily in demand as they’d once been, but everybody was growing apples.
Today, generations later, the mill continues to operate, grinding about 200 bushels of apples a day for cider and jelly. Willis Wood and his daughter do most of the pressing, sometimes with help from a luthier who regularly stops his work with fiddle making to lend a hand on the farm.
The process of making jelly starts with apples dumped out of a truck onto a conveyer, where they are washed, then dropped into a grinder. The grinder grinds them up into pomace and they fall into a press and are folded into a large cloth. The cloths full of pomace are placed on a large rack and then pressed to make cider. The cider is then evaporated over a wood fire, leaving behind a concentrate called boiled cider and apple cider jelly. The jelly is concentrated just a little bit further than the boiled cider - to about one ninth the original volume of the juice.
The cider press was run by waterpower since 1882, but was switched to motor power in 1910 when the town of Springfield put in a drinking reservoir on the stream below where the cider mill was. Town officials didn’t want the water reserve to fluctuate dramatically because of the mill, so they took the mill down, piece by piece, and built it back up on the current Wood homeplace, away from water.
The mill operates three pressings a day. They start early in the morning with the first pressing of 60 bushels, which makes about 200 of the 600 gallons of cider needed for jelly. The process is continuous, with jelly cooking throughout the day, from morning 'til night.
10 oz. glass jar (284 g)