How To Mull A Cider

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

As the leaves start falling outside and the night gives way to pumpkin spiced chill, it's time for an old favorite: mulled cider.

Mulling is a process of heating a beverage to just under boiling and adding various spices to infuse into the beverage. It's generally served warm or hot and sometimes with accompanying garnishes such as fresh orange slice and even almonds. Many drinks can be mulled, but most popular throughout the world include red wine and apple cider here in the United States and Canada. I love getting a freshly pressed cider from a local farm and mulling it. You can find some interesting combinations using a variety of apples, and you can taste the difference in the drink!

Many stores offer mulling spices -- the traditional allspice berries, clove, cinnamon sticks, orange and/or lemon peel, and sometimes star anise and even vanilla bean -- that are affordable and easy to use. You of course can make your own combination using a variety of spices you like. Romanians tend to add whole black peppercorns to their mulled drinks, while Nordic people use cardamom. Whatever you use, be it store-bought or home-made it's sure to be warming in your throat and make your whole house smell just wonderful!

In this post I'll teach you to mull apple cider. Mulling wine requires a couple more ingredients, so we'll cover that later. To mull cider, simply put desired amount of apple cider in a saucepan. Add your spices -- for 1 cup of cider 2 tablespoons of spices is a good rule -- and set on a medium flame to come to a boil.

When the cider starts to boil, you want to reduce the temperature to low.

And I mean low:

Reason for this is you don't want to evaporate your juice! If you set it on a high boil you'll burn off the water in the apple cider too fast and then be left with a spiced reduction. Which, is not a bad thing actually if you're making a vinaigrette. But we're not here. We want to drink this. So keep it on a low boil.

You might be thinking, "Well why not just turn it off completely then?" Well yes, but spices need heat in order to release their essential oils. Keeping a steady, low simmer will allow the spices to permeate throughout the cider while not evaporating it.

Simmer that cider for about 10 minutes then turn off the heat. Let it stand another 3 minutes or so.

Now you need to drain out your spiced cider! Taking a fine sieve, pour the cider out into a large measuring cup or directly into mugs. Conversely, you can just fish for them with a spoon. If you want your cider spiked, simply add a shot of brandy or cognac or whiskey to your mug and pour the hot cider right over it. No need to mix -- it will dissipate naturally.

Now enjoy your mulled cider!


Amanda Ebner said...

Question: in your professional opinion, could one use a Crockpot or slow cooker to do this? On the "low" or "warm" setting?

Anonymous said...

A somewhat related question: Can you explain the difference between apple juice and cider?

Mishy said...

Sure on both! I'm going to post both questions in the Ask Mishy section -- check the tab for the answers! Thanks for asking!!!! :)