Thursday, October 20, 2016
Spiced beverage "starter" (or, how to make the spicey part of spiced apple cider in advance)
I shared this on facebook a couple of weeks ago. But because I know not all of you do facebook, I thought I would share it here, as well, simply because I've enjoyed having this in my fridge this autumn. I think of it as a spiced beverage "starter".
You may be wondering why I don't just simmer drinks like cider with the spices in them. Obviously, there's the instant factor that I appreciate. But more importantly to me, is pre-infusing some water with the spices, then adding the cider or juice for a brief heating, helps retain heat-sensitive nutrients, like vitamin C.
It's all of the yummy spices of autumn, infused in water, strained, then stored in the fridge. I use the infusion to add spice to hot apple cider, or make a spiced tea with Dollar Tree black tea bags, some apple juice and a spoonful of sugar or honey.
I've been using whole cloves, ground cinnamon (sticks would be nice, but cost more for me) and some allspice berries.
I make this infusion, either in a single cup, in the microwave, to enjoy right away or I make an entire pan of it, and keep in the refrigerator, for impromptu mugs of spiced drinks. Making this "starter" is an easy way for me to have an expensive-tasting drink at dollar store prices.
To make infusion, by the mug:
I put 1/4 teaspoon of whole cloves (or 2 pinches ground cloves)
2 or 3 whole allspice berries (or pinch of ground allspice)
and a 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick (I use 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon)
into about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of water.
I microwave in 25 second intervals, about 3 times, and allowing 2 or 3 minutes in between intervals, for steeping. I remove any whole spices with a spoon, and either add a black tea bag and apple juice and water, for an apple-spice black tea, or, I fill the mug with apple cider and a bit of honey or sugar, for hot spiced cider, and heat all, as needed.
While making this one mug at a time has been nice, I also really appreciate making a pint of the spiced infusion, for several days of spiced beverages, made easy.
For a pint of spiced infusion:
I put 3 cups of water into a stainless saucepan,
along with 1 tablespoon of whole cloves,
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (or 2 whole sticks of cinnamon), and
1/2 teaspoon of allspice berries.
I allow this to heat, just below a simmer, on the stove for about 1 hour, until reduced by about 1/3 in the saucepan. It makes the house smell fantastic, by the way!
Then I pour it through a strainer, into a glass jar, and keep in the refrigerator. It has been keeping just fine, for over a week, for me. Spiced beverage "starter" just waiting for my cuppa.
To use: pour about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of infusion into a mug or cup, and add black tea, and/or apple cider, along with about a teaspoon of honey or sugar, if desired. Heat in the microwave.
I'm enjoying this for my own personal cups of apple-spiced tea, but it's also been nice to add to a family meal for the crowd, at the last minute. Hope you enjoy!