It’s easy to be lured into buying a jug of cider this time of year—just the sight of it conjures up images of bonfires, hayrides and falling leaves. So you place it in your basket, lug it home and there it sits in the fridge. Maybe you have a glass or two, or even get ambitious enough to mull it, but there’s only so much cider one can drink in a season. So what’s one to do with all the excess? Luckily, there are plenty of options—and every one of them will make you look like a seasonal cooking superstar. Here are six things to make with the surplus:
Cider doughnuts are a given at fall fairs. But cider pancakes somehow seem healthier—especially whole-wheat ones, like the kind food blogger Caroline Ketchum makes. She adds a cup of apple cider to her whole-wheat apple cider pancake batter, and sprinkles chopped apples into the flapjacks as they cook on the griddle to double down on the apple flavor.
Slow-cooker pulled pork
Cider comes out about the same time of year you pull out the slow cooker, notes Ali Ebright of the blog Gimme Some Oven. So she suggests putting the two together to make dinner: a slow-cooker apple cider pulled pork, in which pork shoulder simmers in a brown sugar and cider mixture. After all, she says, the combo of pork and apples is a “no-brainer.”
When cider starts fermenting—which you can tell when it starts tasting "fizzy"—Gabe Wright, blogger at Life From the Ground Up, uses two or three cups of it to braise root vegetables, like these turnips. Just cover the veggies with cider in a Dutch oven, throw in some rosemary or salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Lots of salad dressing recipes call for apple cider vinegar, but food and lifestyle writer Julie Blanner adds an equal amount of regular apple cider to her apple cider salad to balance out the tangy vinegar with a touch of sweetness. Blue cheese, walnuts, apples and butter lettuce make it filling—after all, as she points out, fall meals don’t have to be heavy.
Who says cider needs to be served warm to be a hit at parties? Blanner has another cider trick up her sleeve: She adds club soda and vodka to cider for a simple, refreshing apple cider cocktail, perfect for autumn get-togethers.
Sea-salt caramels will always have a place in our hearts, but apple cider caramels just scream fall. To get the concentrated apple flavor into caramels, Kate Jones and Sara Wells, of the Our Best Bites blog, boil down 2 cups of apple cider, reducing it to a third of a cup. If you’re afraid of candy-making, Jones and Wells explain, caramels are a great place to start since they're so forgiving.