This is a festive cider to brighten fall and winter gatherings. And it is simplicity itself, with nothing to squeeze or chop! It sounds as though it would be too intensely flavored for children, but surprisingly enough, it’s not. Julie has had preschool guests guzzle it down from sippy cups. (For kids, cool it quickly to drinking temperature with an ice cube or two in their cups.) In California, we always make this with Martinelli’s still apple cider; choose that or a good quality, locally made cider.
It’s easier than it sounds to halve a nutmeg. Just place it on a cutting board, position the blade of a heavy knife or cleaver at the nutmeg’s equator, and press down gently. Do not try to hold the nutmeg while you cut it! The nutmeg should split neatly in two.
Yield: Makes about twenty-four 6-ounce servings
1 gallon apple cider
1 whole nutmeg, split in half
8 whole cloves
Two 3- or 4-inch cinnamon sticks
5 green or white cardamom pods, gently bruised with the side of a knife or the bottom of a jar
5 black peppercorns
3 allspice berries
Small pinch of saffron (about 10 threads)
1. Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours.