Perfect Spiced Apple Cider + Spiked Variation

Perfect Spiced Cider Recipe
I know I’m guilty of blurring the edges between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but spiced apple cider is the perfect fall/winter beverage that spans the two holidays. This slow-steeped version is guaranteed to fill your living space with the smell of the season, and I can’t undergo a holiday task (defrosting the Tofurky, baking a pie, wrapping presents, etc.) without a comforting mug.

Make sure you’re using whole spices, not powdered, or you’ll end up with a tasty but oddly-textured sludge. This also works beautifully in a crockpot for a party, but you’ll miss out on some of the spicy scent in the air. I usually just let the pot cool and leave it out on the stove until I want to hear it up again, which makes cleanup minimal (always a nice thing, right?). The last cup of cider in the pot is quite sweet & spiced, so I’ll often mix it with unsweetened chai tea to balance it out.

If you want to spike the cider, I’ve found that adding the brown sugar balances out the taste of the rum nicely.Cider Spices, Cinnamon Sticks, Nutmeg, Cloves

PERFECT SPICED CIDER RECIPE
Serves 10

INGREDIENTS

1.5 gallons apple juice or cider (I prefer Indian Summer)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp. whole cloves (15-20)
2 pieces star anise
meat from one nutmeg pod (they’re usually sold whole & you’ll need to crack it open like a shelled walnut)
Optional (boozy version): 1/3 c. dark brown sugar and 3/4 c. spiced rum

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine all ingredients (except sugar and rum, if applicable) in a large soup pot.
2. Heat on medium until simmering. Reduce heat to low and heat 1-1.5 hours or until volume has reduced by a fourth. Remove from heat.
3. Optional: After removing from heat, stir in brown sugar until completely dissolved. Stir in rum and serve.

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