Hot Apple Cider & Mulling Spices – A Great Low Sodium Gift Idea

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Make an easy, inexpensive and low-sodium holiday gift.

Cold weekend mornings set the mood to slow life down and savor the feeling of winter and the holidays. Sipping a hot cup of spiced apple cider is the icing on the cake. When visiting friends and relatives in places north, or “enduring” winter in Los Angeles, we can’t resist the taste and comforting aroma of this soul rejuvenating drink.

Hot apple cider is typically spiced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and citrus peel, exuding a warm and festive version of cider. Cider describes two different types of apple drinks, both of which differ from apple juice. First is simply the unfiltered and unsweetened juice of apples including pulp material; and the second is the fermented alcoholic version, “hard cider.” Hard cider is created when yeast causes fermentation of sugars to alcohol (a pint sounds pretty good right about now, or any time).

Apple juice, on the other hand, is filtered juice with no pulp or sediment. Some commercial juices are sweetened, while real apple cider is not. Commercially produced ciders and juices are pasteurized due to past incidents of E. Coli. However, juice from juice bars and farm stands does not have to be pasteurized (something to be mindful of, especially if you are immuno-compromised).

Purveyors of apple cider often combine different types of apples to balance the sweet vs acidic flavors, attempting to make the perfect batch. The competition can get pretty fierce for the best tasting cider blend. Perhaps you can find a winner to use for your spiced cider. For our drink, we’re going to cheat a little and use a popular brand of pure, unsweetened apple juice…we’ll still call it hot apple cider just because it sounds better than hot apple juice.

Make Your Own Mulled Spices
This easy recipe allows you to simply scoop out the spice mix and peel an orange whenever you want to make hot apple cider. It makes a creative gift idea too. We recommend purchasing the spices from an ethnic/Indian market in quantity for best value.

Yield: 1 jar or tin (approximately 4oz).

Ingredients & Directions for Mulled Spice Mix
2 Tablespoons allspice berries (0.3 oz)
2.5 Tablespoons whole cloves (0.8oz)
16 Cinnamon sticks (3” sticks) broken up into 2 ore more pieces each (2.8 oz).

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well and add to your containers. We purchased the tin shown from an art supply store, which had plenty of neat container ideas.

Note: to calculate the quantity of ingredients to purchase for  several tins, multiply the weight of each ingredient by the number of tins you want to make. For example, two tins would require .6oz of allspice berries, 1.6oz of cloves, and 5.6oz of cinnamon sticks. Have fun!

Hot Apple Cider Recipe Using Mulled Spice Mix

Yield: Serves 4


16 oz apple cider or juice

Orange peel of 1/2 a medium orange

2 Tablespoons mulled spices

Cheesecloth, large tea infuser or strainer



1)      Pour the apple juice or cider into a large stainless steel saucepan.

2)      Add mulled spices and orange peel to a large tea infuser, cheesecloth (tied to make a sack), or add all ingredients directly to the juice (to be strained after heating).

3)      On medium heat, simmer for 15 minutes.

4)      Remove ingredients and ladle the hot apple cider into serving cups or mugs.

For added effect, serve with a cinnamon stick in each cup. Now light the fire or play your fireplace DVD and enjoy the sweet warmth and cinnamon scent of your apple cider.

About Jeff

Jeff thrives on cooking, travel, and outdoor recreation. While he’s always considered himself to be a healthy eater, he was quickly “enlightened” after his out-of-the-blue encounter with a blocked artery. Now he’s living a low-sodium lifestyle, and enjoying every bite.