There are a few ways this recipe adds to my peace. Firstly, my family really enjoys the taste of this hot drink and it pleases me to make it for them. It’s wonderfully comforting to savor a cup of hot, spiced apple juice on a snowy day and the fact that kids like it too is an added bonus. Plus it fills my home with an astonishing aroma of apples and cinnamon. The mere scent of it as it heats up in the crockpot adds a delightful element of coziness.
Also, using the crockpot reminds me to set up a self-serve area ahead of time. Hours before any one has arrived I assemble the recipe and turn on the crockpot to LOW. Then I place a serving ladle on a large plate next to it with an array of teacups and mugs nearby. It’s done ahead of time and I can focus on meal preparation.
And perhaps the most important benefit to using this recipe with a crockpot serving station is keeping my small cooking area clear. I love to visit while I cook but I do not love moving out of the way when people need cups or glasses. After we moved to this house and I got to know my new kitchen workspace, I immediately noticed how my stress would increase when people were coming and going through my small kitchen. Mind you I don’t know of many cooks who enjoy moving out of the way for cabinet doors and drawers, or even getting the required items themselves. By planning ahead and preparing a self-serve beverage area, I keep my joy factor up and my stress level low. This cultivates calmness.
HOT APPLE CIDER
There are many versions of Hot Apple Cider but this one is just pure unsweetened apple juice with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and whole allspice added, along with a bit of brown sugar to balance it all out. How many people this recipe serves depends on variables. It makes 16 cups of liquid so many recipes say SERVES 16 but this can be inaccurate. Sure it serves 16 people IF they are drinking out of teacups or demure punch-bowl-cups and every person is only served once. That’s not much fun for 16 people, but it might work for a function where guests will enjoy using small cups and are really watching their sugar-intake. Around here, on a snowy winter’s day, my adult sons enjoy coffee-mug refills of this cider! So we go through this 4-litre/1-gallon recipe with five people. If I had two or three times this number of guests I’d be borrowing crockpots ahead of time.
Here’s what you need:
Crockpot (6-quart / 5.6 L)
Tea infuser, or alternately make a cheesecloth bundle
1 gallon apple juice, unsweetened* (I use 4 recyclable 1L boxes)
5 cinnamon sticks*
1 teaspoon whole* allspice
1 teaspoon whole* cloves
¼ cup of brown sugar
Put the cloves and allspice into your stainless steel tea infuser (or tie into a cheesecloth bundle; I’ve done that in a pinch). Pour the juice into your crockpot, add the infuser and cinnamon sticks, put the lid on, set to LOW at least a couple of hours before serving time, and voila! A delicious drink that’s family-friendly and will quickly become everyone’s favourite for your wintertime gatherings. It will fill your home with the cozy aroma of cinnamon and apples and bring an extra serving of peace to the cook. Enjoy!
*Note: It is essential to use WHOLE spices; never use powdered. Just don’t do it. Make something else. It would result in something completely different, something I don’t personally enjoy or recommend. A Final Note: Although most of us around here enjoy it as is, my eldest son enjoys a splash of spiced rum stirred in to his mug, so that might be nice to have on hand for a more ‘spirited’ beverage.