By Marley Wells
Here in Indiana, fall is officially in full swing. The temperatures have dropped, the leaves are turning, the days are shortening, and pumpkins and mums dot all the front porches. As I walk around our lovely little downtown New Albany, I find myself wishing that I had a warm beverage that perfectly matched the coziness of the scene around me. Yeah, I could have coffee, but the fun flavors are all chock-full of artificial ingredients. Plus, sometimes we all need to take a bit of a caffeine break! So, what is an alternative autumnal option that is more intentional with its ingredients– not just removing the unwanted ingredients, but also adding ingredients that are beneficial for my body?
Enter mulled elderberry cider. Full of nutritious, antioxidant-rich ingredients, this drink is perfect for warming you up and supporting you physically. An added benefit only fitting for the fall ambiance– this drink will make your house smell absolutely unreal! Move over, simmer pots!
So, what exactly does this comforting cider have to offer? All of its base ingredients– apple cider, dried elderberries, and maple syrup– are high in antioxidants. Maple syrup specifically contains phenolic compounds– extra-strong antioxidants that fight against free radicals to protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This oxidative damage is implicated in many chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative conditions. Plus, as a natural sweetener, you are avoiding refined and processed additives! The benefits don’t stop there. The elderberries, of course, provide the immune-boosting support we all know and love. Apples and naval oranges are high in vitamin C and potassium, necessary for a healthy immune system and healthy skin.
Not to be overshadowed by a strong foundation of benefits, the added mulling spices have their own benefits as well! Allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, black peppercorns, and ginger all aid in digestion, alleviate digestive discomfort, and are high in antioxidants. Ginger and black peppercorns are specifically known for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties that generally support good health.
Need I say more? If you are looking for a homey drink that tastes delicious *and* is nutritious, then look no further.
- ½ gallon apple cider
- ½ cup dried elderberries
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 naval orange, sliced
- ½ Tablespoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 2 to 3 star anise
- 10 whole cloves
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1 inch knob ginger, sliced
1 ) Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottom pot on the stove. Over medium-low heat, bring the cider to a gentle simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 30-45 minutes.
To make serving easier, place the spices in a tied-up cheesecloth that can be removed from the cider. If you do not have cheesecloth, just combine ingredients and strain through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter before serving.