Monday, 17 December 2012

Wassail! Wassail! All Over The Town...

Over the weekend the Yuletide season went into full speed here, there was a dinner or two with old friends, a trip to the cinema for a Christmas blockbuster and more than a tot of something mulled! Now in the West Country we are obviously famed for our cider production, and whilst I do love a glass of German Gluwein, a cup of mulled cider will always go down a treat.
Traditionally hot mulled cider was drunk copiously at the Twelfth Night Wassail, where villagers and cider producers would gather around the largest apple tree, hang cider soaked toast on its branches and drink its good health with ale and mead laced with apple liqueur. In recent years it has become more associated with the festivities running up to Christmas, but which ever way you want to drink it there are many recipes out there to try. Here I have used Jamie Oliver's as an example for you to try, I would maybe add a tot of mead or Brandy to give it some extra warmth!

  • 2 litres good cider, such as Scrumpy
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 or 4 star anise
  • ¼nutmeg, finely grated into the pan
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 2 clementines
  • Juice and seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons of caster sugar, to taste
  1. Pour all of the cider into a large pan on a low heat and warm it through for a few minutes. Add all of the spices and fruit juices and turn the heat up. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and leave to tick away for 5 to 8 minutes. As everything infuses you'll get the most delicious layers of flavour. Just because this is a glorified Christmas punch doesn't mean you don't taste it like you would a sauce. Pay attention and add a few tablespoons of sugar to taste. You don't want it to be sweet; you just want the sugar to join up all the different spices so you get a harmonious taste.
  2. When you are happy with the flavours, ladle the mulled cider into glasses or mugs and serve while warm and delicious. Personally I think it's nice to leave bits of spices floating around in the cider when you serve it but if you want yours clear and perfect just pour it into the glasses through a sieve.

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