Best Ever Hot Spiced Cider
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- orange, seedless
- 1 gal
- fresh apple cider (often found in the fresh fruits & veggies section of the grocery)
- cloves, whole
- allspice, whole
- cinnamon sticks, 4"
Wash orange and lemon (*see step 8 NOTE): Use warm water with NON-scented dish soap (citrus scent okay), and scrub well with vegetable or fingernail brush. Rinse well and dry thoroughly with a towel, then set aside for about 20 minutes.
No matter how much you scrub, there will still be some of the wax flaking off after the fruit has set for 20 minutes or so. Just before squeezing, use a dry vegetable brush to remove the offending detritus.
Dust lemon, cut in half and remove seeds. Squeeze juice from one lemon half into pot and put the squeezed half into the pot (juice from other lemon half can be used if more tartness is desired, but only one half needs to be floated for best flavor… you don’t want your cider tasting like Pledge). Stir. Cover pot.
For a different flavor, add a few thin slices of peeled fresh ginger, or 2 or 3 star anise clusters. You can also add a handful of fresh whole cranberries (washed).
Some people insist on adding extra sugar, usually brown, but I find that is too sweet for my palate. However, if you want to try it, use about half a cup to one gallon of cider, or you can even try maple syrup (although I never have).
And of course, you can add some alcohol... things like Triple Sec or Grand Marnier are good as are rum, dark or light, and bourbon. Just remember that alcohol evaporates more quickly than water (or in this case, juice) so if you add it directly to the pot while it is actively being heated, the alcohol will go up in vapor fairly quickly. I suggest adding a teaspoon (or more) directly to each cup if you plan to keep the pot on a low burner or in a heated crock pot.
If you decide to put in more spices than called for (which will bring the spiced flavor up faster in the beginning), be sure to take out all but 6 of both the cloves and allspice and one of the cinnamon sticks when you store it in the fridge otherwise the spices will be overpowering.
*NOTE from step 1: Most fruit in the U.S. are sprayed with non-toxic wax to make them look more appealing. Citrus fruits are no exception. You can skip this step if you want, but the wax can form a cloud on the top of your cider which is unattractive.
* LEFTOVERS NOTE from step 7:
This started out accidentally as I had drunk so much of it during the holiday season that I actually got tired of it but still had over half a gallon left. It got pushed to the back of the fridge and I forgot about it until May when I did spring cleaning, LOL. I smelled it, testing for mold (I'm allergic and always sneeze when I get a whiff of mold--quite handy when checking leftovers, LOL!). Finding none, I tasted it (cold) and found it quite as delightful as when I put it in the fridge, although the spices were about as strong as I cared for, so I took them out, except for the cinnamon stick as a continued preservative. I had a glass a week until it ran out. It was delightful the entire time and I suspect it could have lasted significantly longer since the flavor never varied (note, however, that the citrus pulp did turn dark; if this bothers you, you can strain it out). Of course, you can also freeze the stuff if you need the room in your fridge, although I have never done so.