My favorite seasons are Autumn and Spring. To me they signal new beginnings, beautiful colors, perfect weather, and new seasonal ingredients. One of my favorite fall activities is apple picking. There is something so incredibly satisfying about walking through endless rows of apple trees, looking for the perfect fruit.
For the past three years I’ve made an annual October visit to Larriland Farms in Woodbine, MD. I just love this place, though I highly recommend getting there as early as possible on weekends. I usually try to arrive by 9am, because by the time I’m leaving there’s a line of cars down the street waiting to be guided into the parking lot.
Check out some of the features on Larriland Farm’s website. They have a list of seasonal ingredients as well as lovely recipes for everything from pie to apple crisps. I think one of my favorite things to make with an overflow of apples is apple butter. I try new recipes every year; I think this year it’s time to make my own version. Keep an eye out toward the end of the month!
(On a side note, I highly recommend getting an apple peeler such as this one. The first year I made apple butter it took hours to peel everything by hand. These are a huge time saver!)
But really, is there anything better than hot apple cider on a brisk autumn day? Here’s a wonderful recipe adapted from Simply Recipes. I’m a big fan of adding a bit of liquor to cider for that extra bit of warmth.
Hot Mulled Apple Cider
- 1/2 gallon fresh, unfiltered apple cider
- 1 orange
- 15 cloves
- 4 3-inch sticks of cinnamon
- 15 allspice berries
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 7 pods cardamon
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- Pour apple cider into a 3-quart saucepan, cover, turn the heat on medium-high. While cider is heating up, take a vegetable peeler and peel away a couple thick strips of peel from the orange. Press about half of the cloves into the peeled part of the orange. Place orange, orange peel strips, the remaining cloves, and the rest of the ingredients into the sauce pan with the cider. Keep covered and heat the mulled cider mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat.
- Use a fine mesh sieve to strain the hot mulled cider away from the orange, cloves, and other spices. If you want, you can add a touch of bourbon, brandy, or rum to spike it up a bit. Serve hot. Add a cinnamon stick to each cup if desired.
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