Apple Cider – Fall’s Delicious, Variable, Healthy Beverage!

cider & spices

Warm Apple Cider a favorite fall beverage for many of us. The natural apple flavor is often seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and other fall-type seasonings to make a cozy treat.

First, let’s answer this question: What is the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Basically, apple cider is unfiltered and contains some pulp or sediment, leaving it appear cloudy rather than clear. It also has a shelf life of 7-10 days. Beyond that, it begins to ferment and eventually would become hard cider. Outside the United States and Canada, cider generally refers to that alcoholic beverage.

Health Benefits of Cider

In addition to the taste, apple cider also can be very good for you. Apples themselves are an excellent source of antioxidants, plus have important nutrients like fiber that your body needs. They are good for battling heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The spices like cinnamon and cloves provide additional benefits, from more antioxidants to being anti-inflammatory and helping with your heart health.

Here are some variations of the traditional apple cider, with added ingredients that you can adjust according to your taste. You can use dry/powdered spices or other forms like cinnamon sticks, star anise, sliced fresh ginger, whole or grated nutmeg, whole cloves, etc. Part of the fun is experimenting with the flavors!

Cranberry Apple Cider

Cranberries are a great addition for color, taste and nutritional benefit. Add them as you warm the cider, either as whole or sliced fruit, along with your choice of spices. For another flavor variety, add cranberry juice with the balance between the two according to your taste.

Spiced Apple Cider

To make your apple cider spicier, you can add turmeric in addition to the traditional spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger). Slices of orange will add sweetness.

Dessert Apple Cider

You can also make more of a dessert apple cider by going with the same basic ingredients, but adding some brown sugar, caramel sauce, and vanilla extract to the mix. A spritz of whipped cream can be added to the top.

Creamy Hot Cider

Here’s a twist on cider: Heat your cider with the seasonings you choose (cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin or apple pie spice, etc.) Add caramel syrup to taste – about 1 tablespoon per cup – and 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream per cup. Pour into your blender and blend until it’s all combined. Enjoy with whipped cream topping if you choose.

Apple Cider Syrup

A simple apple cider syrup can bring those great flavors into your breakfast over pancakes, waffles and more.

Combine ¾ cup apple cider with ½ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, ½ teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg in a saucepan.
After bringing it to a boil, simmer uncovered on low heat until it is slightly thickened – about 25 minutes. NOTE: Cool for at least ½ hour before serving and refrigerate any unused portions.

During fall and winter, warm beverages really hit the spot. Apple cider can be enjoyed in these and other variations throughout this time of year. There are also “spiked” versions to explore if you wish!

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