Mulled Cider

I have had quite a few people ask me for the recipe for our mulled cider, which we drink rather obsessively as soon as the weather even thinks about becoming "fall"ish. So, I thought I'd go ahead and post it... although it isn't so much a recipe as a list of ingredients. There will be another "mommy yoga" post next week, but for now, enjoy some cider!

We use whole spices in our cider, partly because whole spices are very pretty, and partly because when you use whole spices you don't end up with the "sludge" in the bottom of the cider that powdered spices give you. I like to get a bunch of spices at the beginning of fall, and make a jar of mulling spices. Then, I can just pull a little out of that jar whenever I want to make cider! So, I'll give you the list of spices and the approximate proportions I use to make the mulling spices -- keep in mind, this isn't an exact science. Change it up depending on what you like!

Cinnamon - Obviously, the most prominent flavor in many autumn dishes. Also the most prominent here! I'll base the proportions of the rest of my spices off of the cinnamon -- 4 cinnamon sticks will make a gallon of cider. I also really like to use cinnamon "chips" instead of sticks, the flavor is stronger. 4 sticks equals about 2Tbs of chips.

Star anise - This spice is a lot like regular anise in flavor: it kind of tastes like licorice. I like it as an underlying taste in the cider, so I don't go overboard with these. Also, they make me sleepy (regular anise does this too). So, again, not too many! For every 4 cinnamon sticks in my mulling spice jar, I put about 4 star anise.

Cloves - You probably know what cloves taste like. They are also VERY strong, and have a kind of numbing effect. Also best not to go overboard with. For every 4 cinnamon sticks, I use 6 cloves.

Allspice - Kind of taste like cloves, but without the numbing effect and with a little more peppery undertone. For every 4 cinnamon sticks, I use 8 allspice.

Nutmeg - The most common place you would taste nutmeg is the distinct flavor of eggnog. It is also prominent in pumpkin pie spice.  I LOVE nutmeg, so I sometimes go overboard with it. For ever 4 cinnamon sticks, I use 1 whole nutmeg, but I usually crush it a little, at least in half, so that the flavor can come out more.

As I said at the beginning, this mulling spice jar will make a gallon of cider. If you are only making a half-gallon, cut the measurements in half. If you want to make a jar for the whole autumn season, increase your measurements accordingly!

I usually get regular apple juice at the store, no need to get fancy expensive cider stuff unless you really want to. Just make sure it is 100% apple juice, not "cocktail" or something like that with high fructose corn syrup or sugar or something. When I get home, I unscrew the lid of the apple juice jar, dump in the right amount of spices, put the lid back on, and shake it up. Then I put the apple juice in the fridge until I want hot cider. The fridge is better than the counter top, because if you put it on the counter top for too long, you are liable to have "hard" cider! =]

When I am ready for hot cider, I pour the jug of apple juice and spices into a pot on the stove, and bring it to a simmer. Let it simmer merrily away for a few minutes, or until you are ready to serve it, and bingo! Hot mulled cider. Happy fall!

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