Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.
I don’t know if y’all heard, but it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere; it’s cold in winter; and, here in the Northeast, it’s really cold. And in New York, we’ve been having winter-type weather all winter long! It’s been on the news and everything!
Okay, it has been colder and snowier than normal (snowiest January on record!), but it’s not Ft. McMurray, Alberta, and it’s only been below 20 degrees once or twice. We can handle it.
That said, the relentless grey, damp chill demands a few things: a couch, a blanket, a board game, a sentient being to cuddle, and hot mulled cider.
Hot mulled (or spiced) apple cider is a winter tradition at my house. It’s so easy to make, especially if you use whole spices. You can whip up enough for a party in less than 30 minutes. If you use ground spices, the only added step is tying up the aromatics in cheesecloth before putting them in the pot.
But whole spices are really the way to go if you can. They impart more warm, zesty flavor into the cider. Mulling spice can be customized to your individual taste, too. Maybe you’re not a fan of star anise, or perhaps cardamom is not available where you are. Play with the recipe until you find a blend you like. Once the spices have simmered in the cider for about 20 minutes, transfer the elixir to a slow cooker for warm-keeping (or reduce heat to low, low, low).
Orange zest is the not-so-secret ingredient that gives spiced cider that je ne sai quois. The tangy citrus combined with warm spices like cinnamon and clove keeps people guessing and sends them back to the slow cooker for more.
This recipe has been a never-fail hit at my fall and winter gatherings for years. Hot and Spicy Cider melts the icicles from the noses of the weariest of travelers and buoys the festive mood of any gathering, transforming that grey, damp chill of winter into a orange, cinnamon glow.
Gentle Readers, what other warm-you-from-the-inside beverages do you turn to in the winter? Do you have a mulled cider recipe for the ages? Comments are open for your suggestions.
Bonus Snow News Coverage: My Snow Angel, Pat Kiernan
If this recipes warms your cockles, you may also enjoy:
Hot and Spicy Apple Cider
2 quarts apple cider
8 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg, crushed
12 allspice berries
12 cardamom pods
6 star anise
1 orange, zest
1) In a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot, combine apple cider and spices. Wash orange well, and grate orange zest into mixture.
2) Slowly bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) Transfer mixture to slow cooker, cover, and set to low to keep cider warm throughout your winter cuddlefest. Ladle into mugs through a wire mesh strainer and serve with an orange wedge or stick of cinnamon.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
8 servings: 120 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $.33
10 servings: 97 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $.26
2 quarts apple cider: 960 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $2.50
8 cinnamon sticks: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 whole nutmeg: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
6 cloves: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
12 allspice berries: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
12 cardamom pods: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
6 star anise: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 orange, zest: 6 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.02
TOTALS: 966 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $2.64
PER SERVING (TOTALS/8): 120 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $.33
PER SERVING (TOTALS/10): 97 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $.26