With the first big snow under our belts, the motivation to plan for the Holidays is kicked into high gear. I find that one of the most wonderful things about preserving is using my skills and preserves for creative gifts. I thought I would focus a couple of articles on creating warm, delicious, and satisfying gifts and treats for the season.
Last week I dehydrated oranges and lemons for several purposes, one of which was to make mulling spice mix for gifts. The bonus is that the house smells divine as the citrus releases its aroma while drying. The dried fruit can be used to brighten up garlands or centre pieces, added to tea, used to embellish a cake, or simmered in a pot of water before guests arrive.
I was fascinated to read that mulled wine in particular dates to the Roman Empire where honey and spices were added to wine in winter. Many consider mulled wine or the wassail to be distinctly Victorian where it was considered a holiday drink celebrating health, happiness and warmth infused by spices and citrus. Mulled cider was and is considered a British winter celebration drink. The cider carries the apple taste which makes for a lighter beverage. Mulling was eagerly embraced by North Americans. Whether using wine or cider, adding mulling spices produces a flavourful warm winter drink perfect for snuggling up in front of the winter.
For more information:
Mulling Spice Mix
- ½ cup dried orange slices broken into small pieces
- ½ cup dried lemon slices broken into small pieces
- 6 sticks of 4-inch cinnamon broken into small pieces
- 4 TBSP ground nutmeg
- 12 whole cloves
- 2 tsp cardamon pods
- 2 TBSP allspice berries
- 1 TBSP whole black peppercorns
- 4 – 6 star anise
Dry citrus using a dehydrator (125 for 10 hours) or in the oven on the lowest setting. Slices should be thin with seeds removed.
Mix the mulling spice mix together. Add 2 TBSP mix to 4 cups of cider or red wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and serve with a cinnamon stick and/or the addition of a slice of fresh orange. This recipe produces about 3 cups. Store in airtight containers. This is a super hostess gift to give with the recipe attached.
If you are out-and-about, I will be at the Kimber Valley Farm Christmas Market on November 26th. Check out their website and drop by.