Cider, to me, is fall in a bottle. I’m referring to unfiltered cider, the cloudy variety that contains apple sediment. Some areas of the country consider crystal-clear, filtered apple juice to be cider. Apple juice is a fine beverage, but true unfiltered cider is a pure distillation of autumn essence, a glorious drink—its full body coats the palate with an intriguing sweet-tart balance that makes it nearly impossible to have just one glass.

But cider is also highly versatile in the kitchen, transforming ordinary baked goods, roast meats, sauces, and salad dressings into seasonal delights. Here’s a recipe for Cider-Roasted Pork Loin from test kitchen staffer Kathryn Conrad, and another from David Bonom for Seared Scallops over Bacon and Spinach Salad with Cider Vinaigrette.

Both recipes showcase the way cider—rich in pectin—reduces to an intensely flavored syrup when boiled down. Buy an extra gallon, reduce it, and store the syrup refrigerated in a squeeze bottle. Use a few teaspoons in sauces for roast pork or chicken, salad dressings, or drizzled over butternut squash soup or even ice cream. This time of year, it’s just the thing to make a good dish great.