Yesterday was a leisurely autumnal Sunday. Surprisingly the last couple of days have been heavy cloud-cover, nightly rains & misty mornings. To wind down for the evening with my fiancé, I suggested that we should have some mulled cider. It’s serious now.
Autumn really is upon us.
I’ve always loved mulled cider; the coldest winters I knew were in the Pacific Northwest – though it is autumn now (in SoCal no less), we’ll go easy into warming up our bones from occasional chilly nights. I remember when I used to buy spiced apple cider from whatever grocery store that sold it (usually Trader Joe’s), but as convenient as that may be; I really enjoy spicing it myself at home. There are other great uses for the remaining semi-spent spices strained as well – that’s another post! (; What I love about mulled cider is that you can use any combination of spices to create a fragrant & flavour profile to your liking.
If you don’t have whole spices; the ground stuff will suffice – though I recommend stocking your cupboard with whole spices, at least to last through the holiday season. The bulk spice section at your grocery store or co-op is glorious for this! Therefore you can just buy the amount you need (& usually, it rings up as obscenely cheap for instance, I spent 41¢ on 2 Tbsp of organic allspice berries yesterday), instead of committing myself to a whole 2 oz. canister that might start collecting dust in my cupboard for 2 years; depending on how often I might use them (;
To be honest, the amount of spices used are used intuitively by eye & vary by what’s available. In the past, I’ve used star anise, the scraped shell of a vanilla bean pod, etc. Variation makes for a unique experience every time. Here is a base mulled cider recipe that you can experiment with.
4 cups of organic apple juice or pressed cider; the cloudier the better in my opinion
4 (about half a Tbsp) cardamom pods, crushed
a few cracked black peppercorns, depending on if you like the sharp peppery taste
4 allspice berries
cinnamon bark piece, however much of the flavour you’d like
citrus peel or slice
Place everything save for the cider last into saucepan. Turn the burner to the medium setting & allow the cider to come to a simmer. This way, the spice infusion is maximized. Upon simmering, turn the burner setting off & allow the infusion to continue for at least 3 minutes. Remove sauce pan & strain the spice bits through a mesh strainer into mugs before serving. Enjoy!
* grate dashes of nutmeg into cups or mugs before pouring in the cider.
* garnish with a cross-section slice of an apple, or an orange slice.
* optional boozy variations: a shot of bourbon, brandy, whisky or dark rum in your mug; top off with mulled cider to taste.
What variations of apple cider are you enjoying this season?