It’s a dichotomous marriage of “set it and forget it” and “a little bit of work,” but the results are always phenomenal! Perfect for those days where you come in out of the cold craving something soothing and warm to drink. It’s also impressive enough for entertaining — plus it makes your home smell like the best kind of Yankee candle*!
Hot Apple Cider
- 9 medium to large apples of your choice (try a variety of types or use up what you have on-hand)
- 1 large orange
- 6 cinnamon sticks (four while it’s cooking, and two fresh ones into the final product)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split open and cut into four chunks
- 2 tbsp whole cloves, heaping (add another tbsp if you really like cloves)
- 12 to 14 cups water
- 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup (more or less, to taste)
- 1 piece of cheese cloth
DIRECTIONS: Wash and quarter the orange and apples. Toss into slow cooker without peeling, de-stemming, or coring. Add cinnamon sticks and cloves. Carefully slice the vanilla bean open onto a smooth surface you can then scrape into the slow cooker, such as a piece of new tinfoil or a piece of wax paper. (The guts and seeds will squish out if you’re not careful, and you want all of that vanilla goodness going into the apple cider, not absorbing into a cutting board). Cover with the water, leaving about an inch of space at the top of your slow cooker pot. Cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
IF YOU DON’T OWN A SLOW COOKER: Using a very large cooking pot in place of the slow cooker, follow the same steps as above for the preparation of the fruit and spices. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, and then simmer it on the stove on low heat for a few hours — until the fruit is “mashable.”
An hour before the cider is done, mash the orange and apple pieces to release their final reserve of juices. Be sure to use a plastic or wooden tool (e.g., masher, spoon) if your slow cooker bowl (or cooking pot) has a non-stick surface. Simmer for one more hour.
Using a large ladle, spoon the cider bit by bit into a large fine-mesh sieve over a large, clean, heatproof/shockproof container. Once you have transferred the full contents of the slow cooker bowl (or cooking pot), line the mesh sieve with a generous double-layer of cheese cloth and repeat the process again over the slow cooker bowl (or cooking pot). With the back of a spoon, coax the juices out of the applesauce-like sludge caught by the cheese cloth as you go. There is a lot of liquid trapped in there, so don’t neglect this time-consuming but important step!
Once the pure cider has been restored to the slow cooker (or cooking pot), add maple syrup and 2 fresh cinnamon sticks. Stir gently to combine, and it’s ready to serve.
This cider recipe can also be made ahead of time, cooled, and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just re-heat in the slow cooker or in a cooking pot on the stove before serving.
* True Story: The other night, I was warming a batch of pre-made Slow Cooker Apple Cider in a cooking pot on my friend’s stove — and one of the other guests actually asked her what kind of candle she was burning! Yup! It smells THAT good.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION: Unavailable.
- This recipe had me at, “I can use my slow cooker?!” In fact, it has already shot to fall/winter “go-to recipe” status. The taste is awesome, the results are consistent, and the scent is heavenly. A “must-try” for both apple and cinnamon lovers alike!
- The first part is beyond easy — I mean, you don’t even need to peel or core anything. The second part is also easy to do, and while a bit more time consuming, it would be silly to skip. You’d be shocked at how much liquid is trapped in that applesauce-like sludge! (Seriously!) If you use a big enough piece of (doubled) cheesecloth, you can actually make a little bundle and squeeze the juice out — which is a significantly faster method, but it does require that you stop periodically to rinse out your cheesecloth.
- You will need a slow cooker or large cooking pot, a fine mesh sieve, a large heatproof/shockproof container (another large cooking pot would definitely do the trick), and cheesecloth.
- Decided to switch up a few things the second time around — in order to make the original recipe less spicy and more “warm” in flavour. Substituted the vanilla bean for nutmeg and allspice, significantly upped the clove and cinnamon content, and went for the “smokier” sweetener by switching out the honey for real maple syrup.
- Source: Adapted (with thanks!) from a recipe called Slow Cooker Apple Cider by Gimme Some Oven