During an early fall picnic in Prospect Park, this honeybee was attracted by the first spiced cider of the season and fell into a cup. I scooped her out, and once dry she helped clean up the droplets left in the cup. She was not, however, much help with the crossword.
I share the bee’s enthusiasm for warm cider fragrant with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, though I have yet to tumble into a cup of it. (Maybe I just need to find bigger cups.) Once the weather cools down and the greenmarkets fill with apples, I start lugging home cider to mull, drink cold, and use in other recipes.
The credit for this recipe goes to Ian, who loves cider more than any person or bee I’ve met. I usually just toss everything into a pot and strain it out, but he’s devoted enough to tie whole spices in cheesecloth and carefully crush them to extract more flavor.
- 1/2 gallon apple cider, non-pasteurized
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 8 cloves
- 1 whole nutmeg
- Cotton twine
Cut a 6 inch square of cheesecloth, double thickness. Place all the spices in a ziploc bag and smash with a meat mallet, steel travel mug, or whatever you have handy. Transfer the spices to the center of the cheesecloth square, gather the corners, and tie with a piece of twine. Pour the cider into a large nonreactive pot and add the spice bundle. Bring almost to a boil over high heat, then when the cider steams, reduce heat to low and simmer at least 15 minutes. The spices will continue to infuse the cider the longer it sits. If you like, you can add a 2-inch strip of lemon rind (bright part only) to the spice bundle. Don’t add any additional sweetener, since the cider is sweet enough on its own.