Even though the days are getting longer, our noses are still pretty cold when we step outside. That means that spice mulling season is still with us. What is spice mulling you ask? How convenient that you are asking us…
Mulling spices in cider goes back to old England, and to the ancient tradition of Wassailing. Thought the traditions varied slightly from village to village, in general Wassailing involved mid-winter ceremonies that focused on drinking with and singing to the apple trees in order to bring a good harvest in the coming spring. It often involved a King and Queen chosen from the people, and hanging bits of toasted bread soaked in a spice infused apple cider in the branches of the largest apple trees in the orchards. A song like the one below, from Carhampton, is sung:
Old Apple tree, old apple tree;
We’ve come to wassail thee;
To bear and to bow apples enow;
Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full;
Barn floors full and a little heap under the stairs.
Eventually the spiced cider, called Wassail, was adopted into Yuletide traditions, and today we find hot spiced cider everywhere when the temperature drops and cheeks become rosy- a way of warming us up and lifting spirits.
Our Mulling spices, called Mulling It Over, use whole spices for infusion- we really like to leave botanicals as intact as possible when we use them. you will find Ginger, Cloves, Cinnamon (two types!) Allspice and whole dried Lemons, Orange peel and Kokum Noir.
- In a large pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil
- If you like, place the entire contents of the Mulling It Over mulling bag into a cheesecloth bag or large tea ball if you have it. If you don’t, do not worry- our preferred method is to let them float freely and strain them out as we serve each cup.
- Add the entire contents of the Mulling It Over mulling bag to the boiling water. The water should barely cover the spices- and a rich spice aroma should rise up. Let the spices boil for 3-5 minutes.
- Pour 1 gallon of Apple Cider into the pot, directly into to spice water mixture. This will rapidly drop the temperature. Keep the heat on high as the cider and spice mixture comes up to simmer.
- As the cider begins to simmer, lower the temperature so that it stays at simmer and does not boil. We do not want to boil our cider- that is why we started with a small amount of boiling water in the beginning, so we could open up the dried spices and begin infusion without damaging our sweet cider.
- Let you infused cider simmer for half an hour, then begin pouring cups- Drink, Enjoy. Keep the cider simmering (“Mulling”) as you continue to drink more cider. You can add up to another gallon of cider to this base as you go, or if you like, once you have drunk half the pot, add a bottle of red wine and let it mull for a bit to finish the day with hot mulled wine!