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Food Factor: How to Make Spiced Cider

Nothing warms me up on a cold day like a cup of hot spiced cider! Plus, when I make it from scratch instead of a packet, my entire house smells like the holidays.

The whole spices can be expensive, but they are strong, so they go a long way. If you’re not familiar with the spice mace, it tastes similar to nutmeg but is considered milder in flavor.

The nice thing about making your own spiced cider is that you can control the amount of sugar you add, or you can leave it naturally sweetened! If you want a healthy alternative to sugar-laden coffee drinks or cocoas, give this hot spiced cider a try.

You may notice “mace” as an optional ingredient. Mace is made from a webbing that covers the “nut” that makes nutmeg. The flavor is considered similar to nutmeg, but lighter. Cooking purists recommend mace “blades” – which are the whole form of this spice – rather than the ground version. We omitted it when we made this recipe. We also found whole allspice hard to find, so I recommend ordering some online before the holidays so you can make this on a cold night!

Thanks to our friends at University of Illinois Extension for sharing their printable version of this recipe!

I hope you enjoy the holidays. Since you may be spending more time with family than usual, you might enjoy these Table Talk cards developed by the Extension for Real Life blog team. They can start conversations with your relatives while you’re gathered for a holiday meal or any time throughout the year.

Spiced Apple Cider

1 gallon naturally sweet apple cider

1/4 cup to 1 cup brown sugar

4 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 tablespoon whole allspice

1/2 teaspoon mace (optional)

Tie cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and mace together in cheesecloth, or use a coffee filter tied with string. Combine cider and brown sugar in a large pot. Add spices. Bring mixture to a slow boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove spice bag from pot. Serve hot cider in mugs. Spiced Apple Cider may be kept warm in a slow cooker on the low setting. Makes 18 servings.

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