Here at Chiot's Run fall means an abundance of local unpasteurized cider. We have a local mill that makes fantastic cider and sells it out of a little cooler out back. We've thought about trying to make our own, but with someone doing it so well, it's not worth trying to top it.
Having cider in the house means we'll be enjoying mulled cider every evening. There's something so comforting about a nice cup of hot cider warmed with delicious spices like: ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. I usually just add a few bits of each spice to a pot each evening then fill it with cider and allow it to steep for a half hour to an hour. Sometimes however I like to mix up a big batch of mulling spices to keep on hand and to fill small decorative jars to have on hand for the perfect fall hostess gift. This mix can be used for cider or wine. This year I decided it would be my gift of choice for friends & holiday parties. This is super quick and simple to make, as long as you have all the spices on hand, which I always do. You can even customize it to the person you're giving it to or to your own tastes. I use the same recipe for these jars as I use for my own cider. I keep all of the organic spices on hand since I buy in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs. The vanilla beans I get very inexpensively from Saffron.com.
These are also fairly inexpensive. I spent more on the jar itself than the spices inside. I could have used regular canning jars, but I really wanted to make look a little different. I also thought these beautiful little jars would be ones that people would save and reuse as well.
CHIOT'S RUN MULLING SPICE MIX
I don't like the flavor of citrus in my cider, if you do feel free to add orange peel. You can also add dried ginger chunks or nutmeg if you like, use what you've got on hand and what you like in your cider.
4 Tablespoon cinnamon chips (I prefer sweet cinnamon over the regular cinnamon)
4 Tablespoon allspice berries
1 Tablespoon cloves
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
8 cardamom pods slightly crushed
1 vanilla bean cut into small pieces
Mix spices in small half pint jar, label and give away with directions: Mix 1 Tablespoon of mulling spice for every 2 cups of cider or wine, heat till almost boiling, reduce heat and steep for 30 minutes, enjoy.
When it comes to cider are you a mulled cider kind of person or do you like it cold?
I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.