A mug of Mulled Apple Cider in your hand has not only a rich taste, but a rich story steeped in history.
What is a Wassail recipe?
Wassail can be any drink gently simmered or steeped with spices. Today it’s most commonly made with apple cider or juice, wine (aka ‘Glogg’) or ale, but was made with mead (aka ‘lambswool’) a thousand years ago. Exotic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves from the Indies or the Orient were a very valued and costly item for Europeans throughout the middle ages and would be saved for special occasions. These treasured spices would be slowly simmered in the drink of choice for creating a communal ‘wassailing bowl’ that would serve a crowd of folks celebrating the apple harvest, Yuletide or Lammas day in Middle Ages Europe.
I like to use a high quality apple cider when I make my own version of Wassail. Look for apple cider that is cloudy- the apple particles left in it add a nice depth of flavor. This recipe is written for a half-gallon of cider, but feel free to double, triple or quadruple the recipe for your needs :0) Below are the spices I use- I went out and purchased them whole (after a bit of searching at health food stores) to show you what they are and where they come from. All these spices (except for the star anise) are easily found ground in bottles in the spice isle. I have written the recipe so you can use either whole or ground- whichever is easiest for you!
Set the pot of cider to low heat and add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, star anise (if you can find it), cardamom and stir them around a bit.
I like to add a few slices of orange; the flavors just compliment each other so deliciously well. If you’re not a fan of the oranges just leave them out, it will still taste amazing. I also add a tablespoon or two of honey to help sweeten the whole pot.
Once the pot of cider and spices comes to a tiny simmer, place a lid on it and turn the heat to low. Let everything steep for about 20-30 minutes (or longer depending on how strong you want it). Scoop out the mulling spices and orange slices with a strainer or slotted spoon and keep the pot on very low heat. You can certainly place some of the mulling spices in individual mugs for garnishes when serving to guests if you like. Taking that first sip with all the heavenly aroma just warms me to my toes!
If you plan to have any kind of get together for the holiday season, a hot pot of Mulled Apple Cider aka Wassail is a must. Your house will smell like a dream, and you’ll have lots of happy guests or family members. Enjoy and please leave me a comment below, I’d love to know what you think of this recipe!
Mulled Apple Cider a.k.a. Wassail
Yield 12 cups
Holding a mug of Mulled Apple Cider in your hand is a key to the past. The rich history of mulling spices in juices and drinks is a tradition that goes back centuries. Hundreds of years ago the holiday season was celebrated with the most precious things people owned- spices shipped in from exotic corners of the world.
- 1/2 gallon of apple cider or apple juice
- 4 4-inch cinnamon sticks (or 6 2-inch sticks)
- 17 whole cloves (about a teaspoon of ground cloves)
- 17 allspice berries (about a teaspoon of ground allspice)
- 2-4 star anise pods
- 7 cardamom pods (about 1 teaspoon of ground)
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 orange, sliced and ends discarded
- Pour cider into a large stockpot or dutch oven set over medium low heat.
- Addin the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, star anise and cardamom. If you have a rasp grater or small grater, rub the nutmeg nut over the pot until one whole side is exposed. If you don't that's just fine too. Drop the the nut into the pot.
- Add in orange slices and honey and gently stir a couple of times. Bring the pot to a light simmer, then cover and turn the heat to low. Cook (steep) for 20-30 minutes depending on how strong you like your wassail to be.
- Remove the lid and the spices and orange slices with a slotted spoon or small strainer and set aside. Ladle wassail into mugs and serve, garnishing with mulling spices if desired.