Apple cider is a popular beverage once fall arrives, and it is enjoyed through much of the harvest calendar months. But there is much more you can do to enjoy the refreshing tartness of fresh apple cider. Recipes for mulled cider, apple cider stews, apple butter and more can be found all over the internet. I myself have tried several recipes using apple cider as one of the main ingredients, and with a few modifications and some experimentation, I’ve found some that I and my family have greatly enjoyed and now insist upon making every fall.
Mulled Cider Recipe
To start off simply, mulled cider is quick and easy to make, and is especially heartwarming and deliciously refreshing on chilly fall days and nights. Mulled cider is essentially apple cider simmered with various spices, usually, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, but there are many variations that also use orange zest, cardamom, allspice, and others.
The mulled cider I have come to rely on starts with a 1/2 gallon of apple cider. Simply pour the apple cider into a large saucepan and allow it to heat up. While the cider is being heated, prepare 3-5 sticks of cinnamon (or 2-3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon), 2 tablespoons of whole cloves (or 2 teaspoons of ground cloves), and a teaspoon of nutmeg. Add the spices to the apple cider in the saucepan and cover until simmering. Then remove the cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes more.
For some variations, I sometimes will add a small handful of blackberries, crushing them against the sides of the saucepan once they have been simmering for about 15 minutes. You can also add orange zest, cardamom, or brown sugar if you desire. Adults can add a cup of rum or a 1/2 cup of brandy to the pot as well if they so desire.
After simmering, drain the mulled cider through a fine mesh sieve and serve with a cinnamon stick for garnish, or a tiny sprinkle of nutmeg.
Hot Mulled Cider Sangria
This next recipe is a crowd-pleaser at parties and family functions. Perfect for a Halloween party or Thanksgiving celebration, be sure to make plenty, it tends to go rather fast, at least in my experience. (You can scale the ingredients up or down as necessary).
In a large soup pot, combine 1 gallon of apple cider, a bottle of dry red wine, 2 cups of orange juice, a 1/4 cup of lemon juice, about 7-8 cinnamon sticks, a tablespoon of ground cloves, and either 1 cup of rum or brandy, if desired. Cook the mixture over a low flame until just simmering. While the mixture is being heated, core and slice 3-4 of your favorite red apples, and add to the pot once the mixture has just begun to simmer. Turn off the heat and serve.
Harvest Apple Cider Stew
This recipe is for a hearty fall harvest stew using apple cider. It is a little more time-consuming but well worth it.
2 pounds stew beef (beef cut into chunks or cubes for stewing, you can find it at your local supermarket)
2 parsnips or carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 red apples, cored and sliced into wedges
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 medium-sized onions, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 14 -ounce can of beef broth
2 cups of apple cider
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
Optional: In a traditional stew you would also add about 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and sliced into bite-sized chunks, but for the harvest stew, you can purchase a few baby pumpkins, which will need to have the pulp cleaned out, and then sliced into bite-sized chunks. Peeling the pumpkins is also optional.
To begin, season the beef chunks with the salt and pepper and coat with flour. Then brown the beef in either a dutch oven or a large stew pot in a tablespoon of olive oil.
Then add the broth, the onions, the cider and the vinegar. Bring the stew to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for 75 minutes, covered.
Then add the pumpkins or potatoes, and the parsnips to the stew. Bring to boiling again, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 20 minutes. Then add the apple slices and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
This stew makes approximately 8-10 servings. As an special serving touch, purchase some miniature pumpkins that are just a bit larger than a soup bowl. Slice off the top but do not discard. Remove the pulp and stings and clean the inside of the pumpkin. You can ladle the soup into the pumpkin bowls and serve it to guests using the top of the pumpkins as a lid for the bowls.