As the temperature steadily drops, the air chills and families need a way to warm up. Hot seasonal drinks provide a tantalizing way to celebrate autumn and winter, even for those who live in warmer climates.
Apple cider is a staple of the season, particularly when it’s spiced and served warm. There’s a lot more to apple cider than just warm apple juice. Here’s what you should know to make the best apple cider for your family using your own slow-cooker.
Starting from scratch
For many families, the most convenient method of making warm apple cider is to simply buy a pre-spiced and pre-packaged gallon of it from the local grocery store. While this does take less time, it doesn’t do justice to the level of flavor that homemade apple cider possesses.
Cooking blog Gimmie Some Oven features a recipe for making your own apple cider from scratch in a slow cooker. Fill the trough with sliced apples and oranges; whole cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves and optional allspice; and warm water. After cooking it on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours, mash the fruit and cook for another hour to extract the flavor. Strain the bowl through fine mesh and sweeten the liquid with brown sugar.
Delightful additions for the whole family
That’s just the basic recipe for apple cider, though. You can jazz up your juice with a variety of tasty additives to give it the type of flavor you prefer.
Jen Hadfield of Tatertots & Jello recommends stirring a jar of caramel sauce in the cider before you serve it to make warm caramel apple cider. You can follow A Spicy Perspective’s advice and add orange juice, hibiscus tea bags, juniper berries and sliced ginger to your warm apple cider to make a slow-cooked cider wassail. You can even give your cider a tart zing by adding cranberry juice, as The Recipe Rebel proposes.
Bustle offers a list of alcohols that blend well with warm or cold apple cider, such as rum, bourbon, rye whiskey or scotch, for adults who want their cider to pack a punch.
Alternative warm drinks for the holidays
Apple cider isn’t the only drink you can warm in and serve from a slow cooker. While many people consider apple cider an essential of the autumn season, not everyone enjoys this fruit.
You can make cider out of fruits other than apples. Oxmoor House shares a recipe on MyRecipes for spiced pear cider that calls for unsweetened pear juice, pear nectar, cinnamon sticks, whole allspice and cloves. Better Homes and Gardens recommends using your slow cooker to brew spiced green tea, which consists of green tea, orange-peach-mango juice, dried fruit, crystallized ginger, orange slices and cinnamon sticks.
You can also slow cook adult beverages without resorting to spiking your apple cider. You can find a recipe on Better Homes and Gardens for warm chamomile toddies that includes water, honey, fresh thyme, whole cloves, chamomile tea bags, brandy, honey and a bottle of Riesling, Chenin Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Gimmie Some Oven also shares a recipe for mulled wine, which incorporates dry red wine, an orange, honey, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise and optional brandy.
Whatever your drink preference, make sure you warm a pot for your loved ones and share a cup of cheer.
This article is presented by New Century BMW in Alhambra, California.