Someone who knows my deep & abiding love for all things apple asked if I had a favorite recipe for mulled apple cider. Short answer: no.
Long answer: let me tell you why.
It starts with with flavors. I am a supertaster (what’s that? for more info, click here) which in brief means I can get overwhelmed by things other people don’t find powerful or even taste at all. Many popular foods taste bitter, or over-sour, or simply strange on my tongue. Genetics are involved. Yes, cilantro tastes like soap. Truffle oil is downright disgusting. I can identify different types of vanilla even after they’ve been cooked into foods. (Yes, there are many subtle variations on “vanilla,” but that’s a different post.)
The critical point is that my opinions on things tasting “good” or “bad” is heavily influenced by factors that don’t matter to others. Mulled cider typically involves a lot of strong spices: cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, clove, nutmeg, and star anise to name the most common. And I intensely dislike most of those spices.
I tried mulled cider many a time growing up, and I hated it. Always.
What spices you ask? (Of course you are curious.) Star anise makes the whole batch like black licorice and I hate black licorice, coriander makes me ill whether I taste it or not, allspice & cardamom both leave a weird aftertaste I would rather avoid, and clove…too much clove has bad, BAD dental associations.
Since I always liked like hot plain cider, I eventually decided I should TRY to mull some, to see if I could do it without making it taste yucky.
So I read a bunch of recipes and then followed none of them. As one does. My current system: pour as much cider as I plan to drink in a pot big enough to hold it, toss in a cinnamon stick & a clove or two, grate in a little nutmeg, heat over low until it’s steaming gently. If I have an orange around I might throw some peel and/or a few wedges. Or not.
I’ll also add a splash of whiskey if I’m feeling boozy-adventurous. Not the good bourbon, that would be a waste, but Jack Daniels or Jim Beam. Whatever basic is hanging around. Even rum will do. Vodka in a pinch.
Do not add scotch. Or gin. Just don’t.
That isn’t really a recipe, but it’s what I do and the story of why. Have some links to several good recipes I used as inspiration when I first decided to put spices in my hot cider:
Genius Kitchen has a sweet one.
Pioneer Woman‘s is a traditional one. (scroll down past all the fancy pics for recipe)
TastyKitchen for the slow-cooker edition
That’s it for this week’s edition of “Random Things I Do When I’m Not Writing Books”