Monday, 12 December 2011

Finally, a Cure for American Fall Nostalgia!

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Back when I first moved to London, one of the things I missed most about the states was hot apple cider.  The fall snap in the air that first year hit my nostalgia buttons hard, and I found myself aching to crunch through an autumn wonderland, breath clouding, hands wrapped around a hot cup of steaming apple cider.  But alas, I was disappointed again and again – even Starbucks didn't have it, and there was nothing resembling cider (to mull myself) in the shops.  The closest thing I found was something called mulled apple cider at Covent Garden, but one sip of the revolting alcoholic brew dashed my hopes against the cobblestones and shattered them into a million shards of sad.

All that fall and winter I had to content myself with coffee, which, luckily, is one of my favorite things.  But it still didn't hit the spot.  I guzzled the real stuff on brief and wonderful trips home, and resigned myself to a life without sweet, cinnamony comfort.


The second time around, when I moved back again in 2009, I was thrilled to stumble upon a sort-of solution: bottled mulled apple juice.  It wasn't cider, per se, but it was a deeply-enough flavored apple juice, and spiced enough, to serve as a ready substitute.  And best of all, it required no work besides pouring it into a mug and sticking the mug in the microwave.  I was stoked. 

But alas, in November of this year, when I started getting serious autumn nostalgia pangs and went to my local Waitrose to find some bottled comfort, I was again disappointed – they'd stopped stocking it!  I sighed a heavy sigh and turned from the shelf, but the BF was less defeated.  He reached around me and grabbed a carton of 'cloudy apple juice.'  "We have to at least try," he said, his mouth set in a hard line.

It's possible I've never loved him more.  And so, when we got home that night, I hastily looked up a recipe for mulled cider, tweaked it a bit to make it instantly accessible despite my imperfectly stocked kitchen, and got to mulling.

And you know what?  It wasn't half bad!  I think what my previous attempts (which have been unsuccessful enough to mean I've never mentioned them here) were lacking was the orange, which added a nice tang and a level of depth to the cider.  Which wasn't cider, technically... but it served the purpose: filling the BF and me with warm comforting fall-iness to help us face the chill outside. 

Hot Apple Cider:

Pour carton of cider (I think this one was about 1/2 gallon, or a little less) into a pot and place over medium heat on the stove.  

Tie up in a small piece of cheesecloth or place in a tea infuser:
     1 Tbsp whole allspice
     1 Tbsp whole cloves

Place cheesecloth/infuser in cider, along with:
     3 cinnamon sticks 
     a few slices of orange.  

Bring to a boil and then turn heat down a touch, simmering for 20-30 minutes.  Remove spice bag/infuser and cinnamon sticks from cider.

Serve in a mug, garnished with a cinnamon stick and a slice of orange.


  1. It's that time of year again and I'm an American ex-pat here in London as well. My Ocado addiction paid off though, I think I've found a great substitute (it is unfiltered apple juice, which is basically apple cider):

    I'm going to try the normal apple cider recipe with this. Hope it works for you too this year!

  2. That sounds perfect! Thanks for the link, although I'm back in the States now so have less need for subs – I'm glad you found something to help ease the autumn expat pain!


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