I have a lovely autumn and winter gift idea for you today! I started making these several years ago after seeing a recipe in Real Simple magazine for warm mulled cider. I made it, and LOVED it, and immediately started brainstorming ways to make this delicious hot beverage an ongoing part of my life.
I’m happy to report that I have found success, and my consumption of this delicious, aromatic mulled cider has skyrocketed. I keep these mulled cider spice bags in my pantry at all times, and have found them to be a delightful gift for friends and family around the holidays—just attach instructions to heat apple cider over the stove for 30 minutes with a spice bag and a little bit of honey. (If I have any extras left after a long winter, I have been known to throw one into sun tea to add extra flavor to the tea.)
The most challenging part of this little DIY is simply finding the spices in their whole form, rather than ground up—I’m lucky to live near a store called Rochester Wholesale Fruit & Vegetables, which has bulk whole spices at a very reasonable cost. If you don’t, all of them are very easily found on Amazon (links provided throughout the blog post, for those who are interested*.)
You’ll start off by preparing your two dried ingredients, oranges and ginger, which are, of course, very easy to find at the grocery store. Cut the oranges into 1/4″ thick slices, and arrange them on your dehydrator trays, not touching.
Peel a large chunk of ginger root, cut it into slices and add to the dehydrator. Run until there is no moisture remaining (if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use a 200 degree oven for this step).
Next, you’ll need to break whole cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg into smaller pieces (the cinnamon sticks, because they’re too bulky to fit nicely in a little bag, and the nutmeg, because each bag needs only a fraction of a whole nutmeg for the flavor).
I have a big stone mortar and pestle which works perfectly for this. If you don’t have one, I imagine you could make something work by folding the cinnamon into a towel, and smacking it with a hammer. Does anyone have any better ideas than this? I feel like the hammer thing could be fun.
There isn’t a specific size you need, I was just trying to get them to be less than about 2″ long.
The last two ingredients you’ll need are whole cloves:
Take a moment to smell all of this! Delicious.
To keep the spices together, we’ll be using cheese cloth. I’m going to take a small side trip here to tell you that there is a magnificent difference between good quality cheese cloth, and low quality cheese cloth.
On the left is the cheese cloth purchased at Menards, in a pinch because I ran out and wanted to use it right away. On the right is the good quality cheese cloth I ordered online from Amazon for about double the price (still less than $5 for 3 yards). Notice how it has at least triple the number of threads? Yeah, that’s how it’s supposed to look. The stuff on the left is harder to work with, and doesn’t actually function properly as a straining cloth when you need to use it for jelly and cheese and the like, because the holes are too big. And, as an added bonus–the real cheese cloth actually holds up to being washed, so you can rinse it out and use it a second or third time.
Back on track…assemble your ingredients! Clockwise from top: whole cloves, dried ginger, nutmeg bits, allspice berries, broken cinnamon sticks and dried orange slices.
Cut the cheesecloth into 8″ squares, and tie up the packet like I’ve shown below: first tie two opposite corners together, then the other two, then tie one more knot with them all together, to make sure nothing gets out.
And that’s that! To prepare your delicious mulled cider, just pour some apple cider in a pot and add the spice bag and a tablespoon of honey, if you like it sweet. Heat on the stove, not letting the cider boil, for 20-30 minutes.
After I’ve made mulled cider, I like to make the most out of the spices by boiling them in plain old water on the stove to make the house smell good. Mmmmmmm.
Mulled cider sachets
Inspired by Real Simple magazine
In the center of an 8″ square piece of cheese cloth, make a pile of the following ingredients:
- 2 dehydrated orange slices
- 3 pieces of dehydrated ginger root
- About a tablespoon’s worth of broken cinnamon pieces
- 3-4 whole cloves
- 3-4 whole allspice berries
- 1-2 broken pieces of a whole nutmeg (approx 1/4″ each)
Tie the cheesecloth square securely to make a sachet.
To make your cider, place one sachet in a pot and cover with up to a half gallon of cider (for more, use multiple spice bags). Add honey if desired. Heat the cider for 20-30 minutes, being careful not to let the cider boil. Ladle into mugs and enjoy!
* Please note the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. If you end up purchasing something, this blog benefits (thanks!)