Apple Molasses for To Kill a Mockingbird Food ‘n Flix

Whether the topic is the film or the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic either way.

I am thrilled to be hosting this month’s round for Food ‘n Flix with this 1962 Academy Award winning classic.  Besides securing Gregory Peck the Best Actor Oscar, this film started the careers of a number of actors including Robert Duvall.  I think if I were an unknowing viewer, I would not have recognized Duvall as Boo Radley, the innocent maniac next door.   Willam Windom (best know for Murder, She Wrote) and Alice Ghostley (best known for Aunt Esmerelda on Bewitched) also made their feature film debuts in TKAM.  (Just a bit of trivia for you.)

Boo and Scout

I cannot recollect how many times I’ve seen this film.   I taught English for eight years so at least that many as I showed the film almost every year after we would read the novel.  To clarify, I do not think TKAM is a foodie film in the least, but I did want to see who was up for the challenge of putting their food goggles on.  I also can’t wait to see what everyone whips up.

As I strapped my culinary glasses on and rewatched the film, I came across the following foods or food references:

  • “Soft tea cakes with frosting of sweat and sweet talcum” (like wilted Southern ladies in the summer evenings)
  • Mr. Cunningham’s payment of hickory nuts (and earlier collards)
  • Breakfast of Calpurnia’s hot biscuits
  • Jem’s donuty-thing in the tree house
  • Dill in the cabbage patch
  • Raw squirrels (Boo Radley’s alleged diet according to Jem)
  • Sneaking in the Radley yard through a garden of collard greens
  • Coffee at breakfast on Scout’s first day of school, Jem’s milk, biscuits, bacon, grits
  • Roast, potatoes, collards, carrots, corn bread, milk, and syrup (on the first-day-of-school lunch or “dinner” as Jem calls it when he invites Walter)
  • The Cunningham’s meals of hunted rabbits and squirrels  (according to Walter)
  • Scrambled eggs (another breakfast)
  • Cookies and lemonade on the porch
  • Ice blocks outside the courthouse
  • Mayella Ewell sends the children to town for ice cream.
  • Ham (as in Jean Louise’s costume for the Halloween pageant)
  • Angel Food cakes for Boo from the ladies of the town for being a  hero (as Sheriff Tate predicts)

The most obvious food tie-in is the lunch with Scout’s school mate, Walter.  After pummeling him in the school yard for making her “start out on the wrong foot,” Jem intervenes and invites the child to their house for lunch.  Scout watches in amazement and horror as Walter pours syrup (molasses in the novel) over his entire meal.

I did not want to douse a good Southern meal in molasses, but I did want to use this as my inspiration.  I thought I had found an ingenious recipe for a molasses jelly (which was really a sugary curd) but after two attempts to perfect its consistency and flavor, I gave up.   I had one boil-over on the stove and two gloppy messes.  Plus, I did not care for the taste.  🙁

After that disaster, I just started googling molasses recipes and happened upon a couple of heirloom recipes for Apple Molasses.  I was intrigued and this recipe is simply boiled down apple cider.

Apple Molasses (Boiled Cider)

Use this as a syrup, jelly, or as a sweetener for all sorts of delicious things. (See note below.)


  • 1 gallon fresh apple cider (nonpasteurized)
  • Optional: cinnamon stick, star anise, ginger slices, all-spice berries, vanilla bean


  • In a large kettle, bring apple cider to a boil and then reduce to a strong simmer.
  • If foam appears, skim off the top periodically as it reduces.
  • Simmer uncovered until the apple cider is a dark color, and begins to thicken to a consistency of syrup. Cider should be a minimum of 1/7 and up to 1/10 original volume to be shelf-stable. Remove from heat and store in a sterile jar in the refrigerator.  If using 1 gallon of cider, you should be left with about 2 1/3 cups of apple molasses.
  • This recipe is very versatile and use whatever quantity of cider you wish and whatever spices and flavorings speak to you.


Pour over biscuits, French toast, waffles, pancakes….

Or, try some of these great ideas (compiled from Foodie with Family and  The Yummy Life).

  • Make “instant” mugs of hot cider–add boiling water to your favorite mug and stir in 3-4 tablespoons of apple cider syrup.   (Better yet, add a little rum or brandy or whiskey to the mug of hot cider for a warm evening beverage.
  • Pour a tablespoon over ice, fill the rest of the glass with seltzer water (and or rum or brandy or whiskey), and give a quick stir for apple cider soda (virgin or hard).
  • Drizzle over vanilla ice cream.
  • Use to baste pork or ham, chicken or salmon.
  • Toss a tablespoon or two to the sliced apples for a pie or apple crisp.
  • Use as a substitute sweetener in recipes in place of sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
  • Whisk into cream cheese icing for a pumpkin spice cake.
  • Stir into oatmeal or plain yogurt for a breakfast treat.
  •  Add to a basic vinaigrette (instead of honey) for a tasty salad dressing.
  • Make sparkling apple cider–add 1-2 tablespoons of syrup to a glass with ice and sparkling or seltzer water.

To test this recipe, however, we will drizzle it over hot buttered biscuits in the spirit of Calpurnia’s kitchen.

For the biscuits, you can choose between any of these recipes:

Angel Biscuits


Sweet Potato Biscuits

Crux of the Biscuit (from a previous FnF post)

Please note I was so late in posting up that there is no longer time to participate.  Look for the round-up of recipes here soon.

Food 'n Flix Club Logo

But, you definitely have time to plan on joining us next month when  Coffee and Casseroles is hosting Ghostbusters (2016—the latest installment).  Join us in October!

9 comments to Apple Molasses for To Kill a Mockingbird Food ‘n Flix

  • Can I use apple molasses in place of molasses in spice cookies? Or is it more like a balsamic syrup?

  • […] k.fillText(f(55356,56826,55356,56819),0,0),!(j.toDataURL().length    Apple Molasses for To Kill a Mockingbird Food ‘n Flix […]

  • Thanks again for hosting Debra, this apple molasses sounds very interesting. I’ll bet it was delicious.

  • So this was what the unpasteurized apple cider was for–it’s so frustrating when things don’t turn out like the jelly and/or not to be able to readily find ingredients you want but it looks like you made the most of your struggles with this apple molasses syrup . I like the idea of using it in sparkling water (or in a cocktail) and it looks like it would be perfect over warm biscuits.

    Thanks again for hosting a fun F’nF round! 😉

    • It is frustrating. 🙂 Especially when you have a plan months in advance and it all falls through. Thanks for participating!

  • I did not know that there were so many references to food in this book. But going through you list, I remember a few of them probably because I’ve re-read the book in the past 2 years. Very interesting. I love this apple molasses. It looks and sounds very rich and tasty.

    • It is an interesting recipe but I’m not sure everyone will want to sacrifice a gallon of fresh cider this way. I did about a quart. It is a very versatile recipe regarding the amount you start with.