The temperatures are dropping, leaves are falling. There’s nothing better in this crisp and cool weather than a hot drink swirling with warming spices reminiscent of a holiday dessert.
The darling of fall drinks is undoubtedly the PSL, or pumpkin spice latte. We get it. From the warming spices to the pumpkin gourd itself, its arrival announces that fall is officially here. But our love for pumpkin spice can admittedly get a little out of control–pumpkin spice hummus, chicken wings and Spam simply cross the line. So we’re here to recall a classic that uses the same warming spices you know in love in your pumpkin spice drinks but with that natural apple sweetness that will give you all of the fall and winter feels this holiday season.
And the recipe couldn’t be simpler. It’s completely adaptable, and you truly don’t need an exact recipe. Add the ingredients, top with water, simmer until soft, mash, strain and enjoy. Don’t have whole spices? Ground spices will work just fine. You can also use a range of apples–we recommend a mixture of tart and sweet and whatever is having its peak seasonal moment. If you can make it to a farmer’s market, all the better. If not, grocery store apples are perfect. The only non-negotiable ingredient? Clean, pure water. It’s the foundation of the recipe, and you know AquaTru has you covered there. Think of this as your low key recipe to get your house smelling like the holidays. It cooks fastest on the stovetop, but you could also use a slow cooker and let it simmer for hours, perfuming those warm spices all throughout your home. It’s much better (and healthier) than a candle with synthetic fragrances and chemicals.
Apple cider also has endless applications. You can drink it hot or cold, mix it into a cocktail, make apple cider donuts, muffins or any other baked good you can think of wanting to devour. But please, just don’t put it in Spam.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 10 Apples, quartered. For the best balance, we recommend using a mix of tart apples like Granny Smith and sweet apples like Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp. Farmer’s markets often have varieties you don’t see everyday, so ask your farmer what they recommend! Note: if your pot is smaller, use as many as needed to fill it up. Like we mentioned, this recipe is completely adaptable. You’ll want to leave about one inch above after covering with water.
- 1 Orange, quartered
- 3-4 Cinnamon sticks (or 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon)
- Whole cloves, ½ tsp
- Whole allspice, ½ tsp
- 1 Whole nutmeg
- Sweetener, optional. You can use granulated sugar, brown sugar or even maple syrup. We highly recommend taste testing first before adding any sweetener. If it’s not sweet enough, start with a few tablespoons and taste as you go. Recommend no more than ½ cup of sugar. When we made our recipe, we didn’t need any added sugar based on our apple selections, but it’s completely up to you and your palate!
- Pure water. The only option is obviously AquaTru water. 😉
You’ll also need:
- Stock pot or dutch oven, any size you’d prefer
- Fine mesh strainer or a cheesecloth.
- Utensil to mash the apples like a wooden spoon, potato masher or muddler
- Add all of your ingredients to your stockpot, and cover with water. Leave about 1-2 inches above the water line to the top of the pot so it doesn’t boil over
- Heat on high until it starts to simmer, then reduce to medium-low, cover and let it simmer for about 2 hours or until apples are fully soft
- Mash up the apples and oranges using a wooden spoon or any utensil that will get the job done. Cover and simmer for another hour to let the ingredients fully meld together.
- Strain the mash using fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. You may need to do this in batches, stirring and pressing the solids against the strainer to expel all the juices. You can discard the solids, or repurpose them in a smoothie or baked good recipe that calls for apple sauces. Just be sure to remove all of the whole spices first. For texture, we like to give the cider one more strain by pouring back into a pot. You can let it simmer low on the stove to keep it warm until ready for serving.
- Sweeten as needed. Make sure to taste your cider first before adding any sweetener. We felt our mix of apples didn’t need any added sugar, but everyone’s recipe is as unique as their palate. It’s your call!
- Serve it up! It’s time to enjoy your creation. We recommend serving it warm, and you can even garnish it with a cinnamon stick or slices of fresh apples or oranges for an extra festive flair. Let it cool to room temperature before storing in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Keeps for up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Note: You can also make this in a slow cooker. Cooking time would be approximately 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.