Apple Cider with What?

Unlike filtered apple juices (likely a mix of many varieties of apples), fresh-pressed cider has terroir, flavors unique to the soil, climate, and varieties of apples grown in that particular region.

No matter what your local cider situation, any unfiltered apple cider will do for a sweet, hot refreshment. For the classic version, heat cider with whole cinnamon sticks and cloves, simmer for 10 minutes, and serve in mugs, garnished with cinnamon sticks. Or try one of these fresh twists on this traditional fall drink.

Chai-spice cider

This one packs extra flavor punch, plus offers a healthy kick from anti-inflammatory spices. Combine 4 cups fresh apple cider with 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 3 slices (¼ inch thick) peeled fresh ginger, 8 cardamom pods, and 4 cinnamon sticks. Simmer for 10–15 minutes. Add 4 plain black tea bags during the last 3 minutes, if you like. Pour through a strainer into mugs.

Tart cherry–apple cider

Tart cherry contains anti-inflammatory compounds helpful with muscle and joint pain. It also has rich and delectable flavor! Combine 2 cups apple cider with 2 cups tart cherry juice. Heat just to a gentle boil, and serve.

Pear-cardamom cider

Cardamom is a predominant spice in chai but adds a wonderfully round taste to baked goods and drinks all on its own. Combine 4 cups pear juice with 8–10 whole cardamom pods. Simmer for 10–15 minutes. Strain pods from the liquid before serving.

Pomegranate-ginger cider

Ginger complements pomegranate’s strong, tart taste. Pomegranate juice has especially high levels of antioxidants due to the fruit’s rich pigment. Combine 3 cups apple cider with 1 cup pomegranate juice (for tarter flavor, try 2 cups each) and 3 slices (¼ inch thick) peeled fresh ginger. Gently simmer for 10–15 minutes. Remove ginger and serve.

Warming hot pepper–apple cider

Bored with traditional fall spices? Try a little bone-warming cayenne pepper in the mixture. Cayenne contains compounds proven to relieve joint pain. Combine 4 cups apple cider, 4 cinnamon sticks, 1 teaspoon cloves, and ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne (or more, to taste). Simmer for 10–15 minutes, strain, and serve.

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