Recipe: Simple Hot Apple Cider

Last week when we went grocery shopping, Martin and I just smiled when we each reached for our “You Know You’re In Germany When…” piece of food.

Martin grabbed this black licorice that tastes like tar.  Okay, so I think it’s tar.  It must be the expat living in me because Martin actually has friends here who make fun of him for eating such mild licorice.  Mild?!  My friends, this licorice is strong enough to knock your socks off… and that’s when the person on the other end of your house is the one eating it.

I feel like I should say, “Haha!  I’m totally exaggerating.  It’s not that bad!”  But I am not German.  I grew up eating fruity candy like Starbursts and Jolly Ranchers, and I never knew licorice could be so strong.

Luckily, the item I reach for every time is something we can both enjoy.  Anyone who comes to our house can enjoy it.  In fact, anyone who comes to your house can enjoy it, too, which is why it’s such a perfect autumn recipe to share this chilly weekend.

I like to grab a bottle of apple juice.  Don’t ask me what’s so German about apple juice.  It’s really that we’re in Germany, and it’s autumn.  And apple juice costs half of what other juices cost.  On a chilly Saturday morning or right before we have guests, I pour it into a pot and make what has to be the world’s simplest hot cider.  It’s so easy, in fact, that I get a little speechless when people ask me where they can buy it.  Do I dare give up my simple secret so early in the season for the world’s easiest…

hot cider

Hot Apple Cider

    3 parts apple juice*

    1 part water

    cinnamon stick

    ginger, thin slice (optional)

    lemon zest, several thin slices (optional)

    several whole cloves – too many makes it bitter (optional)

1.  Pour juice and water into a tall pot with a lid and turn on heat to high.  You can see that a lot of the ingredients are entirely optional.  We like it that way because then we’re not limited to making cider only when we have everything at home.

2.  Prepare spices and add to pot.  We put everything but the cinnamon stick in a tea infuser.  Otherwise, you have to strain the cider or pick out small chunks one by one.

3.  When pot reaches a boil, turn to the lowest setting.  Let simmer about 15 minutes.  Add thin slices of lemon for decoration if desired.

4.  Remove infuser.  Ladle into mugs and enjoy.

*When picking out apple juice, read the label and try to get juice without added sugar – often called “apple cider” instead of “apple juice” by some companies.  Unfiltered juice (which looks a little foggy) is our favorite when we can find it.

**Do not combine with black licorice of any sort.

Have any seasonal beverages you are looking forward to? Cozy up and tell us what’s the perfect warmup.

(DIY shared with Kimba; Image from Flickr)