Vegan, Gluten Free
Oh yum. Rum. This is not so much a recipe as a reminder and an opportunity to do some shopping. In my mind, nothing says fall holiday like hot apple cider, gently spiced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and orange peel. And dark rum. (Don’t forget the rum). Let the aroma of the spices and cider fill your house as they simmer on the stove. Sip it by the fire, and take a few moments for some quality time before Thanksgiving.
In New England, many of the cider presses are closing down for the season, so that’s why I am reminding you this week. While you can still get very good cider at many supermarkets (and you should), if you want the ultra-fresh stuff, the unpasteurized version, you will need to go to a cider mill. My personal favorite, White Mountain Cider Co., located in Glen, New Hampshire is only a few miles from my house and their last press is happening this Saturday.
Generally, unpasteurized cider lasts about a week, so you do have to be on top of your game. Two things I do to make it last longer – remove about ½ cup of cider from the bottle to allow room for expansion and freeze it, and/or mull it ahead of when I want to use it which seems to help it last a bit longer. I’m not a scientist, just a home cook, so I have no idea why. Whether you choose pasteurized for safety reasons (pregnancy, the elderly or infirm) or unpasteurized, the above two ideas are the same for either.
But more importantly, since Thanksgiving for so many people turns into 3 days of shopping, cooking and cleaning, here is a task you can do ahead and accomplish this weekend before the Thanksgiving festivities begin.
My favorite mulling spices are from Williams-Sonoma and I’ve been buying them since…I can’t even remember. Forever.
While you can wrap the spices in a piece of cheesecloth I find that the darn thing floats on the top of the cider instead of sinking. I never feel like I’m getting my money’s worth so I recommend purchasing a clamp-lock spice ball. It looks like a stainless steel tea ball, but bigger – about 2 ½ inches in diameter with a long chain and a hook for the side of the pot. This by far is the easiest way. I prefer the style that has perforated holes on both the top and bottom halves and brought together with a clamp lock and a hook and chain to hang from the side of the pot.
Here is mine:
These generally run in the $12 to $15 range and I find worth the investment. Don’t forget there are also upcoming opportunities for mulled wine during this winter’s alleged polar vortex, so it will be worth the investment!
Additionally, most recipes call for a quick 20 minute simmer, or worse, to bring it to a boil. Don’t do that – it’s not tea we are making here. Bring it to a gentle simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Sometimes I go longer than that, but usually not, because inevitably I have something else I have to trot off to. Forty five minutes will provide you with a well spiced beverage you’ll be pleased with.
I hope you take some time for yourself this coming weekend to inhale, breathe, relax and enjoy a steamy mug of spiced cider with your feet up. I know I will be. This is the first time in 7 years I won’t be working in food retail! God bless everyone who does, otherwise the rest of us wouldn’t have wonderful things to eat on Thanksgiving.
- 2 quarts fresh apple cider
- 4 tablespoons mulling spices
- Dark rum
- Garnish: whole cinnamon sticks
- Pour apple cider in a medium sized pot, place mulling spices in a large mulling spice metal ball and hook on the side of the pot where it will submerge in the cider.
- Bring the pot to a gentle simmer, and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered which will also fragrance your kitchen.
- Ladle into heatproof glasses or mugs and if desired, add a shot of dark rum to each serving. Feeling extravagant, festive or both? Garnish with a cinnamon stick.