A preserve of young pine cones in apple cider molasses inspired by the traditional Pine Cone Varenye of the Caucuses. Use as a strong condiment for cheese and creamy, fatty things. If you want extra syrup, make this with ¾ gal cider instead of ½.
½gallonunfiltered apple juice or apple ciderThe darkest, most unprocessed you can find, preferably will give the darkest syrup. If you want a higher proportion of syrup to pine cones, use ¾ gal instead of half.
¼inchpiece of cinnamon
¼cupvery young pine conesa handful
Rinse the pine cones to remove any debris. Bring a few cups of water to a boil and blanch the pine cones for 1-2 minutes, remove and reserve.
In a 1 gallon pot with high sides about 8-10 inches in diameter, combine the cider, bouquet of warm spices, pinch of salt, and pine cones, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and set a timer for 1 hour while you do something else.
After an hour, check on the reduction and gauge how much time it will take to reduce down to about 1.5 cups or so, at which point you should baby it, watching it carefully to make sure the consistency is to your liking.
Continue reducing at a brisk simmer until the bubbles start to increase in size and threaten to creep up the sides of the pan. Referring to the video will be helpful here.
When the bubbles are large and the mixture is reduced to the consistency of warm honey, transfer the cones and their syrup to a jar, allow to cool uncovered for 30 minutes, then put a jar with a tight-fitting lid like a mason jar and refrigerate.
Once chilled, inspect the thickness of your jam. If it seems too thick/100 percent pine cones, transfer to a bowl, warm it over a pot of simmering water and thin it with a splash 1T of cider, mix well, then put back in the jar and refrigerate again, which will refresh the consistency.
Kept in the fridge with the lid screwed on tight it will last for a couple months.