with Cardamom & Ginger
I've been on a mad mulling spree this December. It started off with an innocent bottle of Merlot and ended in drunken glee with mulled berry cider. As I explained in the berry cider post, I hadn't made any "from scratch" mulled drinks until this year, and since figuring out the secret to wickedly good mulling I just can't seem to stop myself.
This mulled cider syrup is the end result of my mad mulling mania and an idea for my Kilner of Christmas Pressies (I'm coining that collective noun, thank you).
I thought it would be nice to bundle something into the gift hamper that was a little bit different or unusual. Chocolate bark, salted caramel sauce, hot chocolate mix, snowball truffles. All very nice and predictable as far as home-made gifts go, so I really wanted to add something not so common to the mix.
To step back a little bit, my foray into mulling had me doing a lot of recipe reading. Most recipes simply had you adding the spices and flavourings to the alcohol and simply heating it. In my experience, that didn't give me a particularly fragrant drink, and having it sit over heat for long enough to impart a decent amount of Christmasyness (TM) just meant you'd be cooking away some of the alcohol. Okay, in fairness, it would take a very long time to cook away all the alcohol, but, I'd rather play it safe in this instance! Every little helps!
And then I found the answer via a Jamie Oliver recipe. Create an infused simple syrup and then add the alcohol which means you only have to heat the booze for as long as needed to get it steaming. Brilliant!
I tried his method with the aforementioned Merlot, and there it was. The perfect mulled drink.
Cinnamon, star anise, cloves, orange; that's the usual round up in a mulled drink. But there are plenty of other variations to that. Peppercorns, lemon and whatnot. Merlot holds up to strong flavours really well but cider doesn't need quite as much. You don't want to be kicked in the teeth with the strong flavour of cloves and miss out on the fruitiness of the cider, so, I thought I'd pair back a little bit on the stronger flavours, and bring in a few others that I think makes this mulled cider just excellent. Cinnamon, yes. Orange, yes. Lemon, yes. Hint of star anise. Add cardamom and fresh ginger. I promise, this is ridiculously delicious!
To be completely honest, I don't know what or when the lightbulb moment was to give the infused syrup as a gift, but somewhere in my busy brain it was decided that it would be a nifty thing to give people. All the recipient has to do is add the syrup to their cider, heat it up, and enjoy. It can't get any easier than that and it's much tastier than those little teabag things that show up on shelves at this time of the year.
If you are planning on giving this syrup as a gift, go that little step further and put together a little mulled cider making kit, so bundle it with a few bottles of some hipster craft ciders and cinnamon sticks.
I will, of course, also give you the instructions on making the mulled cider in its entirety, but you also have the option of making the syrup only to stockpile; either to give away or to keep in the cupboard to use when you have any unexpected guests. At the very bottom of this post, I've also given you the quantities for a batch of 6x200ml bottles.
Mulled Cider Syrup
Enough for 3l cider
Peel & Juice from 3 Oranges
Peel from 1½ Lemons
6 Tbsp Caster Sugar
6 Cardamom Pods
6 Slices Fresh Ginger
3 Cinnamon Sticks
3 Star Anise
Makes 1l cider
Peel & Juice from 1 Orange
Peel from ½ Lemon
2 Tbsp Caster Sugar
2 Cardamom Pods
2 Slices Fresh Ginger
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Star Anise
1l Apple Cider
- Combine water, juice, peels and spices in a saucepan (recipe on left if you're just making syrup, recipe on right of you're making mulled cider)
- Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium low and cook until syrup has reduced by half
- If bottling the syrup, leave to cool slightly then pour into a sterilised bottle
- If making cider, add cider to the reduced syrup and heat on medium until cider is steaming. Serve hot with sticks of cinnamon
Makes Syrup for 6x200ml Bottles
540g Caster Sugar
Juice & Peel from 18 Oranges
Peel from 6 Lemons
18 Cardamom Pods
12 Cinnamon Sticks
6 Star Anise
Thumb sized piece Fresh Ginger, sliced