Enter: the sweet and spicy mulled apple cider!
This easy and delicious apple cider recipe is the perfect drink for a cold fall night. What’s more, you’ve probably already got the ingredients to make this yummy drink waiting in your fridge and pantry!
You can create a big batch of this drink ahead of time and enjoy it chilled or warm.
What is apple cider?
Apple cider is the fresh, pure, unfiltered juice that comes straight from the apples. Basically, the fruits are chopped, mashed, and processed to extract their liquid. Most of the time, apple cider is not pasteurized, resulting in a liquid that’s opaque and has a short shelf life. You can also commonly find pulp in apple cider.
In the USA, apple cider is generally non-alcoholic, and the alcoholic, fermented version in known as “hard cider”. However, outside of the United States, “cider” is known as an alcoholic drink.
What’s the difference between apple cider and apple juice?
Many people tend to confuse apple cider and apple juice, but they are actually two very different products. There are a few differences between the two beverages.
First, apple cider is the pure, unfiltered liquid from the fruit. This liquid is usually opaque and contains pulp. Apple juice, on the other hand, is processed and filtered to remove pulp and seeds.
Second, apple cider undergoes little to no pasteurization. Apple juice, on the other hand, undergoes pasteurization to increase shelf life. The liquid is heated to 190⁰F, resulting in the clear liquid that you see in grocery stores.
Finally, apple cider contains little to no additional ingredients such as preservatives and sweeteners. Apple juice, on the other hand, may contain preservatives such as potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate. It may also contain sweeteners to boost the apple flavor.
What is in mulled apple cider?
The first question here is, what makes something “mulled”?
Mulling is a cooking process where you add spices to a beverage and heat it over low heat for long periods. The cooking process makes the final beverage spicy, warm, and aromatic. The spices usually used for mulling are cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, although some recipes can also use cardamom or star anise.
In a mulled apple cider, you will be cooking down the apple cider with a spice mix containing mulling spices.
What kind of apples should I use for homemade apple cider?
There are several types of apples that you can use for making apple cider, and it will depend on whether you want your cider to be sweet or tart.
If you want a sweet cider, go for Gala, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Cortland, or Red Delicious varieties.
If you want a tart, tangy cider, you should use Braeburn, McIntosh, Pink Lady, or Jonathan varieties.
What kind of apple cider should I buy for this recipe?
If you want a good mulled apple cider, you need to find high-quality apple cider. Of course, the fresher, the better! If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where you can find fresh apple cider being sold by local farmers, go ahead and grab some! Your resulting mulled apple cider will be earthier, fruitier, and more complex.
Take note: if you’re buying apple cider from the store, don’t get the alcoholic “hard” stuff.
Unless you want to! *wink wink*
Our CookingChew Cooking Tips:
When making your mulled apple cider, you might want to create a small spice bag containing all your spices! It allows you to remove the spices more easily after steeping so that you won’t get small pieces of spices floating around in your mulled cider.
You can make the spice bag with a small piece of cheesecloth and a piece of butcher’s twine or string. Simply place all the spices in the cheesecloth, close it into a pouch, and tie the top to keep all the spice inside.
Since this recipe calls for cooking over low heat for a long period of time, you can mull your apple cider using a slow cooker. The slow cooker will pasteurize the apple cider to increase shelf life and make it safer to drink, plus you won’t need to monitor it during the mulling time.
Sweet and Spicy Mulled Apple Cider
If you love the smell of fall, you’re going to love making this delicious recipe at home. As the apple cider and the spices mull together in your slow cooker, your house is going to be filled with fruity, spicy, and sweet aromas! Make this yummy drink ahead of time and serve it warm or chilled.
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 1 orange
- 1 T. whole cloves
- 3-4 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1 t. ground allspice
- 3 T. maple syrup
- Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
- Cook on lowest setting for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Strain spices and serve immediately.
What If I Don’t Have a Slow Cooker?
If you don’t have a slow cooker at home, you can still make this delicious recipe! Simply put all the ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and cook on the stovetop over low heat for an hour. However, you would need to stir it a bit more often and check every now and again to ensure that the liquid is not burning or boiling over.
How do I Make it for Adults?
If you want to spike the mulled apple cider (if you didn’t get hard apple cider), you can use liquors such as rum, brandy, or bourbon. These liquors have flavors that go incredibly well with apple cider.
Use Fresh Spices, Avoid the Pre-Mixed Stuff
When you stroll down the spice aisle, you’re probably going to find a packet of mulling spices. However, mulling spices are so easy to find and mix by yourself! Toss the pre-mixed stuff aside and make your mulling spice mix on your own. The result will be fresher and much tastier.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to serve mulled apple cider! Whether you want to enjoy it fresh and hot from your slow cooker or chilled over ice, mulled apple cider is a refreshing and delicious drink.