A warm cup of this cider is probably the one thing I look most forward to this time of the year, which is actually saying a lot because I love fall flavors. One of the reasons I love this cider so much is because it is part of our family tradition. Mom always had a batch brewing on Halloween, and now my kiddos and our friends and family enjoy it at our house. I love to keep a big batch warm on Halloween so that when our trick-o-treating friends need a break, they can come in, sit a spell, and enjoy a warm mug of cider. I don't reserve it for Halloween though! I love to serve it on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Besides tradition, this cider is spiced just right and isn't packed with caffeine or any extra sugar, but you'd never know it's missing from a taste. Sometimes I make a batch, let it cool, and pour it back into it's original juice container to store in the fridge. This way, it's only a minute or so in the microwave to perfect cider whenever we want it.
Warm Apple Cider
*Recipe By Crazy Daisy
1 gallon apple juice, cranberry is pretty yummy too
5 cinnamon sticks*
9 whole cloves
9 whole allspice
*Note~ if you purchase cinnamon sticks from the baking isle in glass jars or metal tins, you will need 5 cinnamon sticks. However, you can also find bags of cinnamon sticks in the ethnic cooking section. These cinnamon sticks are ginormous and way way cheaper so I have started using them! If you do use the sticks that come in the bag, I find that using three works perfectly. Since they are so big, 5 makes it a little too strong. Also, if you don't want to mess around with making a spice packet, you don't have to - you can let your spices float around on the bottom and either strain it, or carefully ladle around them. You just have to make sure you don't leave any spices floating in the bottom of someone's mug because you don't want anyone to choke!
First, you need to make a spice packet. To do this, unroll your cheesecloth so that it lays flat. It should still be folded into 3-4 layers. Cut off a rectangle big enough to wrap around your cinnamon sticks. Also, cut a 1 to 1 1/2 inch strip to use as a tie. Place spices into the center of cheesecloth and wrap in to a bundle. Tie strip securely around packet. Place spice packet on the bottom of a large soup kettle. Pour juice over packet into kettle. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about half an hour or until cider is spiced to taste. Remove spice packet. Ladle into mugs and enjoy! If you have any leftovers, let them cool completely and use a funnel to pour cider back into your original juice container. Store in refrigerator and microwave by the mug as needed.
I have also used my crock pot to serve this cider. You can either make as directed above and pour it into a crock pot, set it to warm or low, and keep a ladle and some mugs handy for serving or you can place the spice packet into the crock pot, pour your juice over the top and heat until spiced to taste, remove the spice packet, turn to warm or low and enjoy!
For a Caramel Apple Cider place a caramel into the bottom of your mug, pour your hot cider on top, and stir to melt or add a teaspoon of caramel ice cream topping (I love Mrs. Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel). Yummy!
I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we do. It really is one of our favorites. I plan to share how I use it for gifts in a couple of weeks, complete with a free printable!