Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cranberry Mulled Cider

Well it's the holiday season, which means everyone is adding cranberry to things, and I am no exception! I started seeing cranberry apple cider for sale recently and decided to make my own. I poked around on the internet looking for a recipe for a while, trying to find one that wasn't simply dumping a bunch of cranberry juice (which is mostly apple juice anyway) into apple cider. I had bought all these cranberries in preparation and by golly I was going to use them! After searching my kitchen for some other flavor enhancers, I came up with this parts list:


½ gallon of apple cider
1 12 oz (by weight) package of cranberries
Zest of 1 lime
1 clementine or naval orange
1 sweet apple, sliced (I recommend a snapdragon)
5-6 star anise pods
3-4 short cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches)


Pour the cider into your slow cooker and set on low.

Add the cranberries, making sure to rinse them first, and the zest of 1 lime. I used a standard vegetable peeler to simply peel the zest off, making sure to avoid the white pith underneath as much as possible, but using a fine grater will work just as well (it just doesn't make as pretty a picture).

Peel 1 clementine and add the sections. I made sure to slightly break them so that there would be good flavor extraction. Feel free to simply cut up a clementine, but if you don't peel it, you will get more citrus from the rind so be sure to shorten your cook time. I used a clementine instead of a naval orange because they are in season right now, and there are a lot of strong flavors in this cider and it could use the sweetness of the clementine. If you're making this when clementines aren't in season, a naval orange will work just fine.

Add the sliced apple, star anise pods, and cinnamon, stir to combine, and let it cook on low for about 2 hrs. Serve and enjoy!

A note about cooking time: because cranberry is such a strong flavor, I recommend you start tasting the cider about 1.5 hrs in to make sure you haven't over-extracted. Make sure you stir it gently before tasting it because the flavors have a tendency to separate into layers since cinnamon sinks and cranberries float. If you find that you have over-extracted, don't panic, just add a bit of salt. Salt helps block bitter flavor receptors on the tongue. I've also simply added some more cider to help mellow a bitter quaff.

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