Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Drinks: Hot Apple Cider

I love to drink my family's hot cider as soon as it gets cold outside. One of the keys to this cider is that when you buy a gallon of cider at the store check the ingredients cider! You wouldn't believe how many gallons I see every winter labeled apple cider and the only ingredient that it contains is apple juice. I don't understand how they can do this, but an easy way to tell the difference is by the look: Here is a picture of cider (on the left) and juice (on the right). If you happen to buy a container that says it is cider, but you get home and discover that it is juice, never fear it will still be good, maybe not as good, but good never the less.

Here's an explanation of the difference:

Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice

Apple cider is essentially apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process that removes coarse pulp or sediment. Cider may or may not be heat pasteurized. Apple juice has been filtrated, pasteurized, and vacuum sealed to give a longer lasting, clearer looking product. Most juices add additional water and other ingredients to maintain flavor and clarity. Outside the U.S., the term "Apple Cider" typically means "Hard Cider" while "Apple Juice" usually will get you a sweet cider.

Okay, now that we've discussed the main ingredient here is the recipe:
  • 1 gallon of cider
  • 3 - 5 sticks of cinnamon
  • handful of whole cloves
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1/3c. light brown sugar
Place all ingredients into a crockpot and cook for at least 3 hours. You could also do this on the stove top of course, but do not boil the cider. Just cook below a simmer.

Leftover cider is great! Let the cider cool to room temperature and then pour through a strainer back into the original container and refrigerate. The butter will congeal on the top but, it reheats in mugs wonderfully.

You can also "starbucks up" your cider with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Yum-O!

1 comment:

Betsy said...

We're big cider fans, too--you can get great cider at the orchard in Halls by the way. My in-laws add a little orange and pineapple juices to theirs for "wassail." Mmmmm

p.s. now I know why you need to run to the co-op for more cinnamon!


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