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A&E >  Food

When the temperatures start to cool, a kettle of warm cider hits all the right notes

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

As the cooler weather is approaching, hot apple cider is the perfect drink .

Mulled cider originated in southwest England and is a descendant of a much older drink known as wassail. Wassail dates back to the 1700s, or earlier, and is a drink made from roasted crab apples and warmed mead. That drink evolved into something that resembles what we think of today as hot apple or mulled cider . Cider, spices, sugar, and often oranges were warmed together then served along with slices of toast. Wine, other fruit juices, ales, sherry and even brandies were often added, and this is when it also became known as mulled wine. Today, mulled cider reigns supreme, but mulled wine is still a popular wintertime warmer in many European countries.

The recipe I share with you today is a well-rounded, not too sweet, and lightly spiced version that I find very approachable. The directions say to heat for about 10-20 minutes, but just know that the longer you heat, the more the spices will steep, and flavors will become more intense. Feel free to add or take away certain spices if you like, as what I have listed below is just a good base recipe. It is important to note that only whole spices should be used here as ground would be too intense and cause a grainer mouthfeel. I think this would be wonderful with a knob of fresh ginger added as well.

If you choose to serve yours with alcohol, I like to first add it to the mug itself, and then top with the cider. Brandy is the traditional alcohol, but it works well with other dark spirits, such rum (both dark or spiced), or bourbon (my choice).

It is important, at least in my opinion, to use a good quality apple cider. A lot of farms up on Green Bluff sell fresh-pressed apple cider from their farms and it’s a great way to celebrate the harvest season and the tastes of the area. If you can’t make it out there, then the refrigerator section of the grocery store is your next best bet. Just make sure to look for unfiltered apple juice or apple cider.

I hope you all make a batch of this at some point during the cool weather months ahead. Cheers to fall my friends.

Hot Mulled Cider

2 liters of apple cider, freshly pressed

1 green apple, cut in half

1 orange cut in half, plus another to garnish with

3 tablespoons brown sugar (feel free to substitute with honey or maple syrup)

Pinch of salt

1 bay leaf

2-3 cinnamon sticks, plus more to garnish with

1 whole nutmeg, cracked into a few pieces

8-10 whole cloves

2 pods of star anise

5 allspice berries

8 green cardamom pods

In a medium to large pot, over medium heat, combine all ingredients.

Gently stir, until steam starts to rise from the steeping liquid.

Turn down heat to low, and gently bring to a simmer, about 10 minutes.

For a more intense flavor, simmer an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Strain cider by ladling mixture over a fine mesh sieve into a large heat proof pitcher to remove fruit and whole spices from the liquid.

Feel free to gently press the orange or apple to remove excess liquid.

Discard fruit and whole spices.

Pour strained cider into mugs and serve while hot.

Garnish with orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

Yield: 8 (8-ounce) servings

Ricky Webster, owner of Rind and Wheat and Morsel by Rind and Wheat, can be reached at

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