From scratch, apple cider can prove a lot of prep work. But if you start with pure apple juice, you'll be sipping a spiced, steaming cuppa in no time!
For Apple Cider
- 1 quart (32 fluid ounces) of pure apple juice (cold-pressed or single-ingredient bottles recommended)
- 3 cinnamon sticks or 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
- 4 whole cloves or ½ teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of whole allspice berries or ½ teaspoon of ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- Peel of one orange, white pith removed
- 1 whole star anise, optional
For Spiced Whipped Cream
- ½ cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best!)
- ¼ teaspoon of ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
- A pinch of just a few granules of salt
- 1 or 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar or raw honey
- ⅛ teaspoon each of ground cardamom or mace, optional
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, optional
Simmer the Apple Cider
- Peel large strips off of any type of orange with a vegetable peeler. Then place the peel orange-side down on a cutting board and carefully slice away any white pith. If you are adding any fresh apples, core them and chop them into inch-size pieces. No need to peel the apples.
- Combine the juice, chopped apples (if you like), and spices in a large pot.
- Bring the ingredients to a strong simmer over medium heat. Then let it go for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down to low after three or four minutes.
- Adjust the burner to maintain a gentle simmer, and let the cider cook partially covered with a lid or foil for up to two hours. The longer it simmers, the richer and more complex the flavor.
- Carefully strain the cider into a heat-proof pitcher or bowl. I like to place the landing zone in the sink, in the event of little spills or an all-out splash down.
- Serve warm with spiced whipped cream and a cinnamon stick garnish, if you like.
Whip the Spiced Cream
- Whip the heavy cream, sugar (if using), and spices on high speed until medium peaks form.
- Add the vanilla extract and whip one long moment more to incorporate it.
- Serve whipped cream immediately with the cider, and store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for a day or two. For best results, beat whip cream again if you've stored leftovers for more than a couple of hours.
On Adding Sugar...If you want a sweeter cider, by all means add a few tablespoons of sugar or better yet, raw honey to the pot. You'll still end up with a much less processed, less sweet version of bottled cider.
On Buying Pure Apple Juice... To buy the purest apple juice, reach for bottles with only one ingredient (apple juice). And avoid any that include "apple juice concentrate" as this is sugar in disguise. Bottles labeled "cold-pressed" or with "100% apple juice" as the only ingredient are your best bet. Evolution is one brand that's easy to find, but many grocery chains like Kroger sell their own lines of pure juices.
On Nutrition Information... The Nutrition Information below is based on the recipe for apple cider as written with no added sugar. And includes four, two-ounce servings of whipped cream as written in the recipe. So if you skip the whipped cream, you can subtract all of the fat and a little sugar from the total.
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