Have you ever noticed that certain smells can bring back specific memories?
For me, the smell of basil reminds me of my grandmother (because she loved the way it smelled). It doesn’t always have to be a food smell…when I plug in a hot glue gun, I am reminded of all the crafts I made with my mom as a kid. Yes, the smell of melting glue reminds me of my childhood. There are stranger things, I’m sure.
But nothing can compare to the delicious smell of orange spiced hot apple cider simmering away on the stove. When I was little, my mother would host a Christmas open house party every year. This was an opportunity for her to socialize with friends, family and coworkers in a relaxed, informal, way. We would always have lots of food (my mother’s trademark for parties), lots of crafts for sale (handmade ornaments and doll clothes, usually), and of course, hot apple cider.
The smell of apples, cloves, cinnamon and orange makes me feel happy. It brings back feelings of warmth, comfort, and yes even joy. Not bad for a drink that takes 0.2 seconds to put together. Want to start a holiday tradition of your own? Throw together a batch of orange spiced apple cider, and break out the board games!
I’ve added star anise to this recipe, because I like the exotic licorice flavour it imparts. If you prefer a more traditional cider, just leave this ingredient out. Also, kids may not like the flavour of star anise.
For this recipe, I use prefer to use unsweetened apple cider. This one is labelled “sweet”, but it doesn’t have any added sugar. If you need to sweeten your cider, you can add sugar after you mull the mixture.
I recommend wrapping the star anise, cloves, and cinnamon in a piece of cheesecloth before adding them to the pot. It’s much easier to fish out 1 sachet, than to go to pick out each spice before serving. Also, some people just add the orange peel to the pot, but I like to add the whole fruit. I think the pulp and juice adds flavour – sometimes I’ll even squeeze fresh orange juice into the pot!
Once you add all the ingredients to the pot, you just have to give it time to mull. The longer you leave the mixture simmering, the stronger the flavours will get. You should know that you might get some sediment or gross-looking foam on top of the liquid. Just skim this off as needed, and don’t worry if you can’t get every last bit. You’re going to strain this before you serve it.
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 star anise pods
- 3-6 whole cloves (these have a strong flavour!)
- 1 small orange, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 6 cups apple cider (no sugar added)
- white sugar (optional)
- Wrap the cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, and cloves in a small piece of clean fine cheesecloth. Set aside.
- Place a large saucepan on the stove, and add the apple cider, orange slices and spice sachet.
- Allow the mixture to gently simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- If you see any foam or sediment floating on top of the liquid, skim it off with a spoon and discard.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Carefully strain the mixture before serving. Serve warm, with a cinnamon stick or star anise pod for garnish, if desired.
I hope you try out this recipe! If you have any other flavourings that you like to add to your apple cider, let me know in the comments below.
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