If you are making sachets of mulling spices for holiday gift-giving, include the cider preparation portion of the instructions with the gift.
If you think the lucky recipient of your gift would prefer wine over cider, you might suggest mulling the spices in a 750ml bottle of red table wine, 1/3 cup port, and 1/3 cup orange juice.
- Yield:Makes a half gallon
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:1 day, plus 30 minutes
- For the mulling spices:
- Zest of one orange
- 1 whole nutmeg (you will use only half of it once it is crushed)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves (about 15)
- 10 allspice berries
- 1 star anise
- 4 cardamom pods
- 3 disks crystallized ginger, minced into roughly 1/8-inch cubes
- For the Cider
- 1/2 gallon fresh apple cider
- Optional: Grand Marnier, Calvados, as desired
For the Mulling Spices: Spread orange zest on a sheet of parchment paper and allow the zest to dehydrate in a warm, dry spot for about 24 hours.
Using the bottom of a frying pan, crush nutmeg. Set aside half for another batch of mulling spices. Continue coarsely crushing other spices in the same manner.
Add crushed spices and minced ginger to the dried orange zest.
Fill a bouquet garni bag with the mulling spices and tie bag tightly. Alternatively, use a 3-ply, 8- by 10-inch sheet of cheesecloth, placing the spices in the middle of the cloth and then bringing up the sides and tying with cooking twine.
If not using mulling spices immediately, store in an airtight bag or container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 weeks.
For the Cider: Pour cider in a large saucepan and immerse bag of mulling spices in cider. Heat over medium heat until steaming and very hot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let the spices mull until cider is fragrant and tastes well-spiced, about 25 minutes. Add a splash of Grand Marnier or Calvados to taste, if desired.