Baby, its cold outside! I’ve found myself sippin’ and savorin’ a warm drink of sorts all day – Earl Grey this morning, Orange Zinger later on, the latter two combined and then for my nightcap, this warm cider was just the ticket.
Every year, my fair peach state yields the last of its famed crop towards summer’s end. Afterwards, apples from our northern mountain counties’ orchards start coming in, giving us another fabulous fruit for a season. Pies, cakes, tarts, butter, and sauce all come from the apple crop, but one apple product in particular is nostalgic with the crisp autumn days – apple cider.
Velvety smooth, delightful to the taste, and luscious warm or even chilled, apple cider is the result of concentrating the apples’ juice with flavors oh so complementary of apples: cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, and a dash of citrus. Whenever I journey into the mountains during apple season, I am sure to bring home to the Peach Country stores of apple cider to get me through fall and into winter. In lieu of trekking to these mountain caches for a jug or two of this delectable nectar today, this recipe was not a bad consolation at all.
Half a gallon of good quality apple juice (I prefer Simply Apple or pressed juice from a local orchard)
3 cinnamon sticks
A dozen whole cloves
3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice
1 cup of rosemary syrup
Simmer the juices, cinnamon and cloves together until bubbles appear. Add the rosemary syrup. Stir and serve hot or even chilled. This can stay on a low heat and be served throughout the day off the stove. Garnish with cinnamon sticks. Glasses may be rimmed with cinnamon sugar as well.
Rosemary Simple Syrup
Same as Basic Simply Syrup but add 2-3 tablespoons of rosemary. Chop, mash, mince, or leave whole the leaves of rosemary and toss them into the water upon boiling. Allow to boil for a minute, reduce the heat, and then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly during the process. Strain the syrup once the sugar is dissolved and discard the rosemary leaves. This syrup may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator indefinitely.
Basic Simple Syrup
1 cup of sugar
1cup of water
Bring sugar and water to a boil and then turn down heat, stirring all the while. Once sugar is dissolved, allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator indefinitely.