Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 2 quarts apple cider (unfiltered apple juice)
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 navel orange, quartered
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 whole allspice
- 6 quarter-sized coins peeled fresh ginger
- 4 ounces (½ cup) dark rum or Calvados (optional)
Procedures:An old-fashioned winter beverage that never loses its appeal, spiced cider on the kitchen stove will perfume the whole house. To maintain the disappearing autumn ritual of cider production, Red Fire Farm in Granby, Massachusetts, holds a cider pressing day in October. Locals are encouraged to bring their own homegrown apples, or to purchase cider apples from the farm. A scarecrow contest and a potluck conclude the festivities.
Put the cider, honey, and orange quarters in a large saucepan. Put the cinnamon sticks and allspice on a square of cheesecloth. Smack the ginger coins with the side of a chef's knife to release their juice, then put the coins on the cheesecloth square, too. Tie the cheesecloth with kitchen twine to make a spice bag and add it to the saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a simmer over moderately low heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. Cover partially and simmer gently for 30 minutes to marry the flavors.
Put ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) rum in each of 8 mugs. Divide the hot cider among the mugs and serve immediately.