There are so many reasons to love autumn. Spring can still be cold waiting for summer to appear, summer can be a real let down where we are waiting and waiting for THAT beloved heat wave to appear and winter can be cold and damp and seem like an eternity. But with autumn we are assured of one thing: crisp fallen leaves, bright autumn colours, the smell of mouth-watering spices emulating from the kitchen and an excuse for us home makers to stay inside and create! I can sum up my favourite feelings of autumn in just one photograph: hot spiced apple drink, autumnal spices, freshly picked apples, berries, crisp autumn leaves, apple rose tarts, clove oranges, pomegranate and beautiful autumn flowers…
My recipe for hot spiced apple drink has all the flavours of hot apple pie (without the pastry!) and reminds me of picking apples from the tree in our garden in Guernsey, one of my many childhood locations while I was growing up. My mum and I would then go and make apple pie, one of her favourites. This drink may taste like apple pie but it also goes very well with apple pie! It’s a perfect drink to offer the kids on a cool autumn night and can even be spiced up for the adults with a spot of Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, if you please.
Whether you prefer to eat apples in your favourite dessert, on its own as a snack or in a drink there are plenty of reasons health-wise to include them in your diet. Apples are antioxidant and high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. So maybe your mother was right in saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Apples are perfect at this time of year. I am lucky to be able to nip over to my favourite farmer’s market every Thursday to buy freshly picked apples from our local orchard, but you may be even luckier to grow your own. Try and use organic apples if you are juicing them yourself or at least buy some organic fresh apple juice. I avoid supermarket apples which are covered in wax to keep them shiny looking on their journey from farm to supermarket so buy organic if you can. My favourite apple for this recipe is the gala as it is sweet, perfect for juicing and for baking. Other good varieties for this recipe are golden delicious, fuji, red delicious, honey crisp and pink lady. The braeburn is still a good choice although a little blander than other varieties. Great Irish varieties to grow for juicing are Jonagold, Tipperary Pippin, and Katy.
To make this recipe wash the apples thoroughly in clean drinking water. Slice them in half and remove the pips then press them in your juicer with a small slice of peeled lemon. This keeps the juice from turning brown. Place this in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the honey and lightly warm to dissolve the honey. If you like a tart drink then there is no need to add honey, however, when warmed the apple juice doesn’t taste as sweet as it does cold so you can add extra honey afterwards to taste. Turn off the heat and add the spices: 1 cinnamon stick, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg, ½ inch piece of fresh ginger, 2 star anise and 1 thick slice of orange studded with 4 whole cloves.
Bring this apple and spice mix slowly to just under boiling then simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes. Leave for another 15 minutes to let the spices permeate throughout. Serve warm in heat-proof glasses with a cinnamon stick and a slice of apple. A delicious addition is a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. It adds a delicate flavour to the apple and a little crunch at the end.
A perfect end to a perfect autumn day….
- 4 cups freshly pressed apple juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ inch slice fresh ginger
- pinch of freshly ground or grated nutmeg
- 1 thick slice orange
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons spiced rum, optional
- 4 slices apple dipped in lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- Add the freshly pressed apple juice to a heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Add the honey and warm for 1 minute until dissolved. Turn off heat.
- Add the spices: cinnamon stick, star anise, ground cinnamon, slice of fresh peeled ginger, freshly ground nutmeg. Add the cloves to the orange and add this to the pan.
- Bring the apple juice and spice mixture slowly to just under boiling and turn the heat to a very low simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Check the taste and depending on the sweetness of the apples, add more honey if required.
- Leave for another 15 minutes to let the spices permeate.
- Add the rum at this stage if using.
- Serve warm with a cinnamon stick, slice of apple and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.
- If juicing the apples yourself then add ¼ slice of lemon to keep the juice from going brown.