Make-ahead mulling spice mix
This spice mix makes a lovely gift – the bagged blend can be added to a pot of tea or used to infuse apple cider or red wine. The recipe makes about 12 mulling spice bags. If you are giving as a gift, be sure to include the recipe instructions.
- 12 large, fillable teabags OR 12 6 inch (15 cm) triple-thickness squares of cheesecloth
- White cotton string
- 2 oranges (peel only)
- 2 lemons (peel only)
- 2/3 cup whole cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole nutmeg
- 3 whole star anise
- ¼ cup green cardamom pods
- 3 tablespoons whole allspice
- 3 tablespoons whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
- With a vegetable peeler or very sharp knife, peel the oranges and lemons. Try not to get any of the white pith that lies just under the surface of the rind. Reserve the interior of the fruit for another purpose (wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until use).
- Lay the pieces of peeled rind on a baking tray and bake at 275F for about 20 – 25 minutes until they are nicely dehydrated but not browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes then chop into small pieces.
- Place cinnamon sticks in a heavy plastic bag. Working on a piece of scrap wood (to protect your counter), cover the plastic bag with an old towel and use a hammer to smash the cinnamon sticks into small pieces, lifting the towel periodically to check your progress. Repeat this process with bags of nutmeg, star anise, cardamom and allspice.
- Put all the pulverized spices in a medium bowl. Add dried orange and lemon peel pieces along with cloves and chopped, crystallized ginger. Stir to combine.
- With a small spoon, put approximately 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture in the fillable teabags and use a hot iron to seal the bags shut. If using cheesecloth, put 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture in the middle of each multi-layered cheesecloth square. Gather up the corners and tie the bundle securely with a length of string.
Mulled Apple Cider
8 cups (2 litres) sweet apple cider
1 mulling spice bag
Place cider in a medium sized heavy-bottomed saucepan and add one spice bag. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Discard spice bag and serve hot in mugs.
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 bottle (750 ml or 3 cups) dry red wine
1 mulling spice bag
Combine water and sugar in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low; pour in wine and add spice bag. Heat very slowly but do not let the mixture come to a boil. When wine is hot, discard spice bag and serve hot in small mugs.