Chai Spiced Cider
Fall is harvest time and nothing speaks louder than the bounty of fresh crisp apples. The fruit is one of the central characters in Michael Pollan’s book, Botany of Desire, a must if you haven’t already read it or seen the magnificent PBS adaptation. The apple represents sweetness in the four chapters that show us the nature of our relationship to the plants we cultivate and seemingly domesticate, and the evolution of our relationship to the plant kingdom. Thus, the recipe I created celebrating the simple and glorious apple in giving thanks to the season and in recognition of our relationship to the planet and to the bounty of life.
Our energy seems to shift when the snap of fall arrives in the air. There is that dance that occurs between the inner and outer. We relish the remaining long shafts of light while simultaneously we feel the call to bring in wood for our first fire. Something primal and primordial ignites in us, so blending the ancient and once coveted gems from the Spice Road that go into our beloved chai and adding them to an American classic, apple cider, made perfect sense when I rolled out of bed this morning.
Your home will smell amazing as you brew up a pot of this chai spiced cider, and I hope that the zing of ginger and the allure of clove, cinnamon and cardamom will warm you for many a day and night in this season of balance between the dark and the light.
Serves 6 people
2 qts unfiltered apple juice
2 heaping Tbs. peeled and freshly grated ginger
2 whole cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
6 cardamom pods
1Tsp. freshly grated orange peel
Whole cinnamon sticks and orange slices for garnish
Pour apple juice into a large saucepan and begin to warm over low heat. Add peeled, freshly grated ginger (more or less to taste is fine). Add the remaining spices which have been crushed with a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin on a cutting board. You can separate the cardamom seeds from the green pods if you wish but it is not necessary as the spices will be strained before you serve your cider. Add grated orange peel and simmer over very low heat for 20 minutes. You can cover the pan to avoid too much evaporation but you will also need to lower the heat even more to avoid boiling the cider.
Strain cider and serve in mugs with an orange slice and cinnamon stick, and for a truly decadent moment during the holidays top with whipped cream spiked with a little rum.