This hot cocoa mix is a staple in my pantry during the winter months, and it makes a great gift. It’s dairy-free, so it even works for people with milk allergies. Here’s the recipe. [Read more…]
Sparkling cider is a New Year’s Eve tradition in my home, but this year, instead of buying a bottle, we’ll be making our own. It just finally occurred to me how easy it is to make.
Here’s the recipe, if you’d like to make some, too.
Sparkling Cider Recipe
Prep Time: 2min
(1) can frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
(1) liter seltzer water (make it in a Soda Stream, or buy a bottle)
What You Do:
Pour the apple juice concentrate into a pitcher.
Add the seltzer, and stir to combine. We have a Soda Stream, so I just carbonated a bottle of water to make my own seltzer.
Serve immediately, or chill for later. If you store your sparkling cider in a sealed container, it’ll hold its carbonation, just like the store-bought stuff.
Want to make sparkling grape juice or sparkling cranberry juice instead? Just swap in a can of grape or cranberry juice concentrate for the apple.
- (1) can frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
- (1) liter seltzer water (make it in a Soda Stream, or buy a bottle)
- Pour the apple juice concentrate into a pitcher.
- Add the seltzer, and stir to combine.
- Serve immediately, or chill for later. If you store your sparkling cider in a sealed container, it’ll hold its carbonation, just like the store-bought stuff.
- Make sparkling grape or cranberry juice by swapping in a can of grape or cranberry juice concentrate for the apple.
We make a lot of mulled cider during the fall and winter months – even more now that we have our little cabin. There’s just nothing like starting a pot on the wood stove as soon as we get up in the morning. It smells amazing, and warms us right up.
Since mulled cider has become such a regular thing for us, I decided it was time to revisit my mulling spice mix recipe. I’ve always just tossed my spices into a pot with a bottle of apple juice. And that works just fine, but it means I have to strain the spices out before we drink it, and that I have to remember my “recipe” every time I make it. Clearly there was room for improvement, so, I set out to create a new recipe. Here were my goals:
- It would make a bulk amount of mulling spices
- It would be packaged in a way that would make straining unnecessary
- It would be divided out into individual servings, so there wouldn’t be anything to measure out when we wanted to make cider
- It would have a gift-worthy presentation
- It would include instructions for making mulled cider, mulled wine and mulled syrup
That’s a pretty tall order, and it took me a while to noodle it out, but I’m beyond geeked with what I came up with. Take a look.
Homemade Mulling Spice Mix
Prep Time: 30min
Save money by purchasing your spices in bulk. If your grocery store doesn’t have bulk bins, try a health food store or an international grocery store, or order your spices online. I bought some of my spices from Earth Fare, and ordered the rest off of Amazon.
You’ll Also Need:
T-Sac No. 3 Tea Filters. These are single-use filters that are designed for brewing loose-leaf tea, but we’re going to use them to hold our mulling spice mix.
What You Do:
You can buy your dried orange peels, or make your own. Either way will work. I opted to make my own because I wanted my peels to be as freshly dried as possible. They’re just more fragrant and flavorful that way. I also wanted bigger pieces of peel in my mix than you typically get with store-bought.
Figure on about 16 oranges to get your cup of dried peel. That’s a lot of oranges, so definitely factor in the cost, when deciding between the two. Oranges are in season during the winter months, so you may be able to catch a sale, like I did.
If you’ve never dried orange peels before, it’s really easy. Just use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the oranges. Be careful not to apply too much pressure; you only want the orange zest, not the white pith that’s located underneath it. It’s bitter. No matter how light your touch, you’re going to end up with some pith on your peels; don’t sweat it.
Spread your peels out on a cookie sheet (try not to let them overlap too much); then dry them in a 200 degree oven. This will take at least an hour, but will likely take longer. It just depends on your oven and how much moisture is in the peels. It took me two hours to dry this batch. You’ll know they’re done when they feel dry to the touch, and are easy to break into smaller pieces. Just don’t let them go too long. You don’t want your peels to brown.
I should also mention that you can dry your orange peels in a dehydrator, if you have one.
Allow your orange peels to cool. Then, transfer them to a freezer bag, and use a rolling pin or meat mallet to break them up into smaller pieces. You could give them a quick whirl in the food processor, but I decided to do it by hand, so the pieces wouldn’t be so uniform.
Transfer your orange peels to a large mixing bowl. Then, place your cinnamon sticks in the bag, and do the same thing to break them up. Add them to the mixing bowl.
Add the cloves and allspice to the bowl (there’s no need to break them up first), and mix everything together to finish your mulling spice mix.
Place two Tablespoons of mix in each tea bag. You should have enough mix for around 24 bags.
Then, use a sewing machine to sew the bags shut. I left a little space between the mix and my stitches, in case there was any expansion once the bag was submerged in juice or wine.
Don’t bother to backstitch. The bags can’t take it.
Trim off the extra paper from the top of the bags, and you’re done.
To Use: Place one mulling spice bag in a pot with 1/2 gallon of apple juice or wine. Simmer for at least 15 minutes. Then, enjoy!
The bags are bio-degradable (and so is everything in them), which means you can toss them on your compost pile, when you’re done.
More Things to Try:
- Make your mulled cider or wine in a crockpot to keep it warm (and accessible) for hours. This works really well for parties
- Turn regular pancake syrup into mulled pancake syrup. Just heat a bottle of syrup with one mulling spice bag over medium/medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes
- Use a mulling spice bag as an air freshener. Just tuck one near a heat register to blow fragrance throughout your home, whenever your heat cycles on
Give Mulling Spice Mix as a Gift:
Tie a single mulling spice bag around a bottle of apple juice or wine, or give someone a whole box of mulling spice bags, along with the instructions for how to use them. It’s a gift anyone would love.
- 6 ounces of cinnamon sticks (approximately 48 sticks)
- 1 cup dried orange peels (homemade or store-bought)
- 4 Tbsp whole cloves
- 4 Tbsp allspice berries
- Place orange peels and cinnamon sticks in a freezer bag, and use a rolling pin to break them up into small pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add cloves and allspice, and stir to combine.
- Fill empty tea bags with 2 Tablespoons of mulling spice mix each. Staple or sew shut.
- To Use: Place one mulling spice bag in a pot with 1/2 gallon of apple juice or wine. Simmer for at least 15 minutes. Then, enjoy!
- To make mulled pancake syrup, heat one bottle of syrup with one mulling spice bag over medium/medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes.