Happy National Mulled Cider Day!
Leaves are changing; mornings are crisp as temperatures start dipping closer to freezing; in the market, the last few berries are being pushed out by apples. Walking around the neighborhood, even playing in the yard, is noisier these days. The slightest breeze triggers a barrage of falling acorns, rapid fire pop-pop-pops as they bounce off branches and leaves on their way down. The other night I came home to the smell of woodsmoke- not from a backyard grill, but drifting from a neighbor’s chimney, the first fire of the season. The sights, sounds, and aromas triggered something in me, almost a reflex to everything my senses were taking in. Heading into the kitchen, opening up the spice drawer, instinctually I knew what I was looking for- a little of this and a little of that to complement the growing signs of fall.
Even the colors of mulling spices remind us of autumn, orange, green, varying shades of brown. The fragrance is warm, comforting, and exotic all at the same time. In no time, apple cider was gently simmering on the stove while an infuser filled with cinnamon, cardamon, star anise, whole cloves, and orange peel bobbed along in time. The scent filled the room, naturally welcoming everyone in the house to gather- no easy feat these days with two teens and a tween in our midst.
Pre-mixed mulling spices can be found in just about any shop these days- from high end kitchen stores to your local grocery. But don’t be tempted to buy the pre-made blend. You probably have everything you need to make your own at home. You will have control, adding a little bit more of this, or a little less of that according to your taste. Homemade mulling spices also make terrific gifts. Save your old glass spice jars, remove the label, give them a good scrubbing, and fill with your custom blend. Add an infuser and you’ve got a gift that keeps on giving!
Below is my general blend, but it is just a guideline- for example, if I’d had allspice berries I would have thrown those in as well. Please play around (and let me know what you discover).
3 sticks cinnamon, broken into small pieces
peel from 1 orange, sliced, dried and broken into small pieces
5 star anise
10-12 cardamon pods
1 teaspoon whole cloves
In a small bowl combine the spices. Transfer to spice jar or similar container. Will keep indefinitely.