I had a forehead-slapping moment at the grocery store this week. It's finally turned a bit blustery and rainy in Seattle, and so many of us have been welcoming the fall weather with open arms. So I found myself gravitating towards the bulk tea aisle, where I picked up a jug of apple cider and got sucked into buying an over-priced satchel of mulling spices. When I returned home, my boyfriend chided me for falling into the "mulling spice trap." Apparently, many people make the same mistake of buying the cute packages when the spice mixture is so easy to make on your own! So I challenged him to a taste-off. If it's so darn easy to make, let's see what yours tastes like. Well, since a bit of time has passed I can tell you now: his was pretty darn good.
The thing with mulling spices is there is no hard-and-fast rule or formula to follow. Most of them have cinnamon stick, cloves, a few chunks of star anise and maybe a little citrus zest or peppercorns. You can experiment with the proportions, and really, you don't even need cheesecloth or any fancy materials to make it happen: you can simply warm your cider along with a bunch of loose spices and drain the whole thing at the end. A bonus: a splash of apple-flavored brandy like Calvados at the end brings the whole thing together.
Megan is a freelance writer and recipe developer. Her cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings, will be available in bookstores nationwide Dec/2013. Megan also owns the Seattle-based artisan cereal company, Marge Granola.
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