Tag Archives: fruit

Unsweetened Hot Apple Cider

I must do better with my blog.
I must do better with my blog.
I must do better with my blog.
I must do better with my blog.
I must do better with my blog.
I must do better with my blog.

Hi!! I know, I know… it’s been eons since I’ve posted. Sorry. It’s been a hectic 7 months. It all started going slack back in the summer when I went full-time with my job and any “spare time” became a rarity. Then we got new laptops… which is a FABulous thing, obviously… but my photo software wouldn’t transfer and then I got into all sorts of shenanigans with Adobe (imagine that!!)… blah blah blah. Anyway, I could throw out some incredible reasons for my silence… but I’ll spare you. Just know that I’m back and I’ll try to do better this time!! ūüėÄ

I thought I’d launch back into things by sharing my apple cider recipe that people keep asking me for. Now, I must confess, I don’t really like hot drinks. Apart from mulled wine. Of course. But I can’t stand coffee. And even as a Brit, I don’t touch tea (sorry to burst anyone’s bubbles of stereotyping!!). Hot chocolate is nice if I’m in the mood for it, but I find it so sweet. I tend to feel a little gross after downing a mug of the stuff. So, in these cold, wintery months I need something that tickles my taste buds. OK, so I realize that a lot of us reading this aren’t necessarily experiencing a cold winter – it’s in the 70s outside here in Memphis and it’s still February!!

But we have had a handful of cold mornings… honest!!¬†So, hot cider has become my breakfast staple these days. Partly to warm me up in the mornings. But mostly out of sheer laziness!! I can put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, take it in the car with me and drink it at my desk (yes, I have to wait AGES for it to cool a little!!).

Over the years I’ve spent here in the US, I’ve tried all sorts of cider products. I have a fundamental problem with the shop-bought varieties, actually two fundamental problems: 1) they’re too sweet, and 2) this country’s total obsession with cinnamon. Wherever there are apples, there’s cinnamon. And cider seems to be no exception. In fact, the cinnamon has a more prominent position in the flavor hierarchy than the apples when it comes to hot apple cider!! Maybe the drink should be re-named? “Cinnamon Cider”. “Hot Cinnamon Drink with a hint of Apple”. Anyway, I digress…

Since there are so few ingredients in this drink, you really do notice the difference when you use good quality juice. For the apple juice, make sure you use cloudy or unfiltered juice. None of that translucent stuff that looks like unhealthy pee. Not good. I often use Simply Apple, just because it’s easy to get at the local store and because I know it has a strong apple flavor that can stand up to the other ingredients. But I also love those big 1 gallon glass jugs with unfiltered “apple cider” in them. Just make sure it doesn’t have anything added to it already (ie. spices or sugar). The orange juice I use tends to be Simply Orange – again, it’s so convenient and actually tastes like oranges. I buy the “medium pulp” version. “No pulp” seems wrong to me… after all, it’s from an orange for goodness sake!! “High pulp” is fine, but I just don’t like that amount of “bits” floating around my hot apple cider.¬†(Having said all that, you could just juice your own fruit. I have no doubt this would make an incredible version of the drink. However, I make so much of this stuff, it would cost me a fortune in fresh fruit!!)

For the spice, I use ground allspice (or Jamaican allspice in some stores). It has a wonderfully warm flavor… not too overpowering, not overwhelmingly present (unless you use too much, of course!!). And that’s it. Not a hint of cinnamon in sight!! Now, the spice may be a powder, but it won’t dissolve. Don’t expect it to. It may surprise you to know that I can sometimes have purist tendencies(!!), so at one point I tried to strain the infused juices through cheesecloth before bottling to leave the “sediment” behind. What a faff!! I only tried it once and that was enough. These days, I’m fine with the spice being in my drink. It makes life so much simpler and doesn’t affect the drinking experience one bit!!

One more piece of important info: there is no added sugar in this recipe. Hurrah!! There really is no need to sweeten apple cider – whether you drink it hot or cold. No more sticky lips syndrome after drinking from your adult sippy cup… know what I mean?!!

So, give it a whirl and let me know what you think…

Unsweetened Hot Apple Cider (makes 11 cups)

8 cups cloudy/unfiltered apple juice
3 cups good quality orange juice
2 tsp ground allspice

1. Pour both juices into a large pot.
2. Add the allspice and stir (don’t panic when the allspice appears to just rest on the surface!)
3. Cover, put over medium heat and allow to simmer (not boil) for a while, stirring occasionally. (How long you heat it for depends on whether you forget about it or not – like I tend to do!! I often let it simmer for an hour or so.)
4. Turn off the heat and allow to steep (covered) for a wee while longer.

From here you can serve it immediately… or, since I make so much of it, I allow it to cool and put it back into the juice bottles ready to stick in the fridge… microwaving mugs-full of it on an “as needed” basis. (FYI, I have no idea how long it keeps!! I’ve had some last for several weeks in the fridge and it’s tasted totally fine…)

Enjoy!!

(Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I’m not receiving any kickbacks from the “Simply” line of juices unfortunately. I really do love their products!!)

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Strawberries

Woo hoo!!  Here it is: my first humble contribution to the mighty world of blogging!!

For my first post, I decided to share a very uncomplicated dessert with you. ¬†I was desperately wanting to get something uploaded, just to get me out of modus procrastinitus (I’m sure that’s an official term, right??)… so this seemed like a good one to get started with…

We eat strawberries a lot in our house, both for sweet and savory courses. ¬†But I’ve never thought of roasting the little things before. ¬†When I saw this recipe on Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, something leaped inside of me… and off I went to stock up on strawberries.

Ideally, I would have liked my berries to have been bite-sized so I could roast them whole. ¬†The thought of sticking my spoon into their squishy plumpness and having the juice burst out onto my plate had me salivating!! ¬†However, the only ones I could find were the size of my fist (seriously!!), and I ended up cutting each one into 6-8 bite-sized pieces. ¬†I don’t think it really mattered, to be honest… but I’d like to try this again with smaller specimens just to make sure!!

By the way, I’m aware that the strawberries that we can get at this time of the year aren’t the most flavorful. ¬†Slow-roasting them really brings out their flavor, so this is a great way to use them up if they taste less than inspiring.

In case you’re slightly nervous about mixing balsamic vinegar with fruit, please allow me to reassure you that this is a combination made in heaven. ¬†The vinegar is far from offensive since you’re only using a small quantity, and it gives the juice from the sugared berries a pleasant zinginess. ¬†Speaking of the juice, don’t panic if it looks thin when you pull the berries from the oven. ¬†As everything cools, the juice will thicken.

So, what do you do with these once they’re cooled? ¬†Top them with homemade granola (recipe to come) and a dollop of Greek yogurt. ¬†Spoon them over rich vanilla ice cream and top it off with some dark chocolate curls. ¬†Add them to your breakfast smoothie. ¬†Being a Brit, I love the idea of having them with homemade cheese scones (recipe to come) instead of jam. ¬†Warmed up, they’re great over some roast chicken. ¬†Oi oi oi… the list is endless!! ¬†If you make these, maybe let me know in the “comments” how you served them. ¬†I feel a strawberry-fest coming on!!

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Strawberries
(From Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy,¬†with a few minor tweaks…)

1 quart (32 oz) fresh strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 250¬ļF.
  2. Put the berries in a large bowl, sprinkle over the sugar and mint, and toss together.
  3. Add the balsamic and gently toss to coat all the berries.
  4. Lay the strawberries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and fresh black pepper.
  5. Bake for an hour or so, until the berries are soft.
  6. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and store in the fridge.

Enjoy!!