Cider is an American Fall staple. The great Johnny Appleseed planted apples across this country, so people could make and brew cider, mostly alcoholic cider but cider nonetheless! These days there are no shortages of high-quality cider options on the market, go with the unfiltered variety vs the clear mass-bottled kind for the best flavor and texture.
When you make mulled cider, it is important not to overheat it, so many times a good cider can be ruined with aggressive boiling. Not only does this muddy the final cider, but it can also destroy the most subtle flavors of your spices and create an unappealing flavor. Another tip is to only use whole spices and fruits, this will save you time trying to strain powdery spices out of your drink later. Our favorite spices are very apple-friendly, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, star anise, and a few orange slices.
First things first, toast the spices in a dry pot. Once the room starts to smell like fall, add the cider, spices, and orange peel. Bring this up to 170-175°F (76-79°C) and let this cook for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a crock pot on a low setting for about 4 hours. Serve with spiced rum or brandy on the side for the adults.