Recipe of the Week: Cider Pie, From The Days of Hard Times

The Stainless Steel Cider Press and other apple presses are available at Lehmans.com and Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

The Stainless Steel Cider Press and other apple presses are available at Lehmans.com and Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

I find myself with quite a lot of cider from this past fall’s pressing. I also have more maple syrup than we’ll use and, in spite of continuing snow squalls and cold weather, sugaring time is around the corner. I want to use the cider and syrup up, so today I’m making a Hard Times Cider Pie.

Hard Times Cider Pie
Boil up 7 cups of cider until it reduces to 1 cup. This will take a while. Use the time to make a single pie crust and set it aside. When the cider has reduced, simmer ¾ cups of cider with 1/3 cups sugar and 1/3 cup maple syrup until the sugar dissolves. Pour this syrup into a heat-proof bowl and add 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt and mix until the butter has melted.

Separate four eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl, and the whites in another. Beat the 4 egg yolks lightly. Temper them by slowly adding the syrup, a teaspoon at a time, taking care not to curdle the eggs. Continue to add the syrup until you have a smooth, mixture.

The eco-friendly Proganics whisk is in stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, OH.

The eco-friendly Proganics whisk is in stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

Now beat the egg whites with a perfectly clean, grease-free whisk until they form soft peaks, then fold the whites into the syrup/yolk mixture until the whites disappear. Pour batter into the crust and bake in a preheated, 350° degree oven until the filling is set.

Note: This recipe sounds more complicated than it really is. Once you start, it goes quickly.

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Stretch your food budget and eat well--or better! Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Stretch your food budget and eat well–or better! Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Why This Pie?
This isn’t just a nostalgic “Recipe of the Week.” I grew up very poor. My father used to joke that my mother could feed the six of us three good meals from one scrawny chicken. I inherited some of my mom’s ability to make a good meal out of very little, a skill that comes in mighty handy during hard times.

It’s easy to forget our history. We have spent decades, since the early 1950s, in a period of uncommon stability. The truth is that human history has been marked more by periods of war and famine, disease and catastrophes.

In spite of challenges, woman (it’s nearly always women) have tried to make their meals as tasty and nutritious as possible using what was abundant and available. Not that our ancestors had no imported foodstuffs; they did. But those foodstuffs were very expensive and used sparingly.

Most of us don’t need extra calories but that might change in hard times. Desserts that take advantage of ingredients that are easily accessible can add those calories, some nutritional punch and a hint of special to an otherwise pretty pedestrian meal.

Generations of simple, wholesome family recipes are gathered together in this wonderful, traditional cookbook. Available at Lehmans.com and Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Generations of simple, wholesome family recipes are gathered together in this wonderful, traditional cookbook. Available at Lehmans.com and Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

I live in the Northeast and have quite a collection of regional cookbooks. The old ones have lots of recipes like this, recipes that use the abundance of what our local farms had to offer. If you haunt the tag, garage and library sales you’re very likely to find great cookbooks for less than a dollar. Amish and Mennonite cookbooks often provide a wealth of information on using plain food to make fabulous meals. I have a number of these and they tend to be my go-to source for inspiration when I need to feed a crew from the foods I have on hand.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.