Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mamma's Twisted Apple Cider

Cider though is relatively unheard of in Asia, its a big hit in Europe and America, and the very first time I tasted it was at a Christmas party in New York. I didnt like it at that time, but later I did a little bit of research and came up with the facts, that lead to some respect and acquired liking for it.
Cider is nothing but fermented Apple juice! In the U.S, cider is the loose term for a variety of apple juice drinks and also for the real thing, but I have also heard the term hard cider, intended for the alcoholic cider, which has fermented a little more, to release the alcohol hiding in the fermented sugars. But funnily, my UK peeps call it Apple wine. I personally like the beverage that called an apple wine better than the cider, but that was until I came across a mulled spiced up version of cider.
The recipe below is my version of that mulled cider that I like, with the term Twisted to denote how sweet and unassuming the name is and the jolt you get with the first sip. I generally use cider from the Grocery store to make this recipe, or Apple Juice that's getting a little old (more than a week in the fridge) and it does come out as a wonderful, warming beverage for our friends who drop in on cold days. If you use Apple Cider from Store, that fine, but if you are using old or fresh apple juice, make sure to add an extra Orange  and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder to it, to give it the effect. The kids usually finish it in 2 days, because of the novelty and since I make it once or twice a year only. That's one of the reasons, I make it with a kid-friendly Grocery store cider, and not the fermented authentic stuff, that comes certified R.
So here it goes:-

1/2 gallon (roughly 1.75 liters)  of apple cider
1 orange, rinsed well in hot water, zested and the flesh slightly crushed
15-20 cloves, whole
4 cinnamon sticks 
1/2 tsp of allspice
1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 inch ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
7-10 pods of green cardamom, slightly crushed
1/4 cup brown sugar

Into a big saucepan, pour the apple cider, and cover with a lid and heat on med-high until bubbles rise from the bottom. Now add the orange quarters, and all other remaining ingredients into the cider. Return the lid and simmer it, in a low flame for almost 20 minutes, stirring it well after every 10 minutes.
Use a clean piece of cotton fastened to the rim of a jug/bowl with rubber bands or if you have a fine mesh sieve, use that and filter the cider carefully. Dont throw away the cinnamon sticks though....It can be used to add a special touch when you serve the hot cider.
And it does make a yummy grown-up hard drink, for a cold evenings,  when you spike it with a dash of bourbon or brandy to it. I love it when its served warm with a generous splash of Citronge or even with Baileys Irish cream! Yummmm! 
Use it up within 2 days, store leftovers closed in refrigerator and reheat gently on a sauce pan over low heat.
This will make about 10 servings. Enjoy! 

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