Fresh Apple Cider, Hot Cider, Mulled Cider … Yum!

Apple cider is the price we pay, such as it is, for the mountains of perfect apples in the produce section. The apples that may not be so good to look at can be pressed into the extremely fresh apple cider that you see for sale everywhere in the fall. Apple cider, that is, as opposed to the filtered apple juice that some people (especially children) drink all year round.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is the old saying that reminds us of the health benefits of eating apples, and it is true of apples in any form, including clear apple juice. Cloudy fresh apple cider, however, has been shown to be especially high in strong antioxidants like resveratrol (as in red wine) and polyphenols.

So go ahead, take a drink and let the cider capture those free radicals.

Remember, though, it’s starting to get cold outside and cider is kept in the refrigerator. You may not relish the thought of taking it out and pouring a frosty glass on a chilly, damp fall night. In that case, there’s hot mulled cider — apple cider simmered with spices like cinnamon (fairly obvious), ginger, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. You can find pre-packaged mulling spices in nearly every grocery or specialty gourmet store, or you can make your own from any combination of these spices, and you can add lemon and/or orange peel for extra kick.  You don’t need a recipe and you don’t need to measure each spice; you need about a tablespoon of spices combined per eight ounces of cider, and if you add them until the cider smells good to you, your drink will taste as good as it smelled, or better, once it has reached the perfect temperature. As a bonus, the smell of spiced cider will scent your whole kitchen like a fresh-baked pie.

Finally, for an extra-special seasonal beverage, add a shot of rum or brandy to your cider, spiced or not. Or start with hard cider to begin with — maybe a post for a later day.

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