As this bitterly cold weather continues to try to dampen our spirits and bring our immune system down, with the occasional episode of flu – don’t get disheartened, get cooking! No, put that turkey down! Pick up the spices and a few bottles of proper cider.
Let’s use this distasteful bit of weather to our advantage and warm our cockles with a delightful and warming beverage in Wassail…aka Mulled Cider. Most people know of mulled spices and their heated vessels, but did you know it has links back to a medieval greeting - waes hael, which translates to be well, and it supposedly developed into a tradition meant to bless apple harvests in the Winter.
Wassailing was a way for farmers to bless their crops and ward off evil spirits and guarantee a bountiful crop for the forthcoming year. Normally celebrated with a “wassail bowl” filled with warm, spiced cider, they would wander through the orchards, offering gifts to the spirits by placing pieces of bread on the limbs or at the base of the tree, and splashing cider on the roots.
Oh, and you will need some pans to clatter to wake the tree spirits from their winter slumber and ward off the untoward ones.
History aside, it almost sounds like those farmers could have been on there way back from the pub, with a bit too much Wassail in their bellies. Perhaps the ABV in those bowls was too hot to handle for the farmers. Who knows…but I do know that in mulled cider they chose the right beverage to be drinking at this time of year to keep spirits high and so I recommend that you follow in those wise old farmers footsteps, not necessarily with the orchard shenanigans but with their beverage of choice!
So what you waiting for…get your pot out and let the mulled cidermaking begin.
Crafty Nectar’s Mulled Cider - serves 4
2 x 50cl bottles of fine cider (medium still preferable)
4 x cloves
4 x cinnamon sticks
¼ of nutmeg grated
200 ml of brandy (optional but we love the extra punch)
Garnish with a slice of orange
Pour 1 litre of cider into a saucepan.
Add 4 cloves and 4 cinnamon sticks, finely grate the nutmeg into the pan, cover and bring slowly to the boil.When it starts to simmer turn off the heat and add 200ml of your Brandy. Serve straight away with a slice of orange.