Snowy-Day Winter Cider Recipe — Insomnia, a snowy forecast, and lemons that needed to be used caused me to experiment with this recipe at 4 am this morning. Let me know if you like it. Portions are estimated rather than precisely calculated. I cook by instinct.
Candied ginger adds a welcome zing to this winter favorite. I used Jerry’s Nuthouse crystallized ginger. If you find you prefer more or less of a particular ingredient, you can adjust the recipe accordingly. (Cinnamon, for instance, can add an additional flavor note.) The recipe’s real magic is in the sweetness of the candied ginger combining with the tartness of the lemon. Makes 4 servings.
- 750 -100 ml or so of apple cider, which is 3 to 4 cups.
- lemon, preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons of Craisins (dried cranberries can be substituted)
- 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg (you could also use pumpkin spice)
- 1/4 teaspoon of powdered cloves*
- a teaspoon of dried lemon peel if you have it (I like my own or Grassia’s spice shop in Philly’s Italian Market–my favorite local spice store)
- dash of cinnamon — optional
- 2 heaping tablespoons of candied ginger. This provides the magic.
In a Pyrex-style saucepan, warm the apple cider on Low on the stove top.
Zest the lemon with a fine zester tool. Shave only the outer layer of the lemon; avoid pieces of white pith, which can add bitterness.
Reserve the juice of the lemon.
In a small food processor or blender, such as a Magic Bullet, add 1/4 cup of the warmed cider. Then add Craisins, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Add the lemon peel and zest (if you don’t have dried lemon peel, add the zest of another lemon. The organic lemons I used were on the small side. One enormous lemon might be enough). Pulverize the ingredients until they appear almost paste-like. You want the fruit to blend into the liquid, so add more liquid if necessary. Fine bits of ginger or Craisins may still appear, but that is okay and adds a bit of pulp. If you don’t like pulpiness in your cider, blend longer. In general we are talking seconds, not minutes. A few good pulses should do. (I found a flat blade did fine in my Magic Bullet; the kind of blade I use for grinding coffee or spices. If your grinder is used for coffee, make sure it is very clean to avoid flavor-mixing!)
Add the ginger paste back to the cider on the stove top. Add the juice of your lemon. Make sure no seeds fall into the mix. Stir until blended well. Warm through. You can let it get to a low boil, but don’t overdo it. I let mine simmer for a half hour or longer. The simmer is what seems to make the ginger combine with the lemony-ness. Stir often enough that no bits of fruit cling to the bottom of the glass pot.
Serve in your favorite mugs. Add a shot of spiced rum or whisky for even more snowy-day cheer.
Tip: You can add other dried fruit if you like. Today I am adding a few chopped organic dates to the mix. You can also try apple slices, orange slices, etc. A cinnamon stick makes a fine garnish. If you like your cider sweeter, you can add a little orange juice or honey. Experiment!
*I know a lot of cider lovers float whole cloves in their brew. I don’t like their scratchy texture. If you only have whole cloves, you can grind a few in your Magic Bullet before creating your ginger paste.
–Kelly McQuain, January 2018