buttery mulled cider: a night under shooting stars

thirsty thursday
notes from maggie's farm

cider apples

when God had made the oak trees,
and the beeches and the pines,
and the flowers and the grasses,
and the tendrils of the vines;
he saw that there was wanting
a something in his plan,
and he made the little apples,
the little cider apples,
the sharp, sour cider apples,
to prove his love for man.


When autumn finally hits Texas, we get pretty excited about it.  We know that even after the first sweet burst of cool breeze that signals sweater weather, we'll still see days in the 90's, known as indian summer to the rest of you folks, but just a Texas fall to us.  These gorgeous sunny days in the upper 70's makes a person almost forget the torture that was summer.  We celebrate.  A pot of stew or soup or chili or gumbo or chowder ('cause we are a melting pot down here, after all), pumpkins and mums on the porch, the unveiling of our favorite cool season clothes, and a warm mug of cider welcomes the loveliest days, the renewed joy of mother nature that is autumn.  

buttery mulled cider

Tonight, after the fall tomatoes have been covered, we'll be under a blanket of shooting stars on the front porch, with a steamy cup to warm us....

Warm one gallon of apple cider with 1/2 stick of butter (if you're feeling indulgent and buttery..make it the whole stick), 1 tablespoon star anise, 1 tsp whole cloves, a handful of cinnamon sticks, broken into 2-3" pieces, 1 tsp whole allspice, and one whole nutmeg.  (if you've already managed to pick up an autumn scratchy throat, 1 tsp of peppercorns will be welcome.  promise.)  You can keep this simmering on the stovetop, or utilize your slow cooker.  Whole spices keep the flavors bright and clear.  If you sneak a bit of brandy in, we won't tell.

What's the difference between apple cider and apple juice?
Let's go to the experts on that.....
Apple juice and apple cider are both fruit beverages made from apples, but there is a difference between the two. Fresh cider is raw apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment. It takes about one third of a bushel to make a gallon of cider.
To make fresh cider, apples are washed, cut and ground into a mash that is the consistency of applesauce. Layers of mash are wrapped in cloth, and put into wooded racks. A hydraulic press squeezes the layers, and the juice flows into refrigerated tanks. This juice is bottled as apple cider.
Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer. Vacuum sealing and additional filtering extend the shelf life of the juice.
The flavor of cider depends on the blending of juice from different apple varieties. The term "flavor" refers to the palatability of a distinct apple juice flavor and the aroma that is typical of properly processed apple juice. Cider makers are most particular about concocting a blend that will create the desired flavor and produce the perfect balance between sweetness and tartness.
Cider needs constant refrigeration because it is perishable. It will stay sweet and unfermented for up to two weeks. (note from maggie: fermented cider is what is known as hard cider) Cider can also be frozen, but be sure to pour off an inch or two from the container for expansion during freezing.
A Nutritious Alternative: Although a glass of cider a day cannot guarantee good health, the sweet juice is a good source of potassium and iron. Apple cider is pure and natural with no sugar added. A 6 ounce glass has only 87 calories. Apple cider, like other juices, fruits and vegetables contains no cholesterol. Pectin, contained in apple cider, has been shown to keep serum cholesterol levels down.  courtesy of www.mass.gov

Join us tomorrow on notes from maggie's farm for smoky cider stewed beans with spanish chorizo, and a 
Festival of Gratitude.

And don't miss the stars tonight!

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