Memories of Christmas at my Grandmother’s house aren’t complete without the smell of spiced Wassail wafting through the house. It was this time last year that she passed away, but when I make this recipe it feels like she’s in the kitchen with me. Her kind spirit, her quiet and sweet temperament, her closed-mouth smile. She would help me sew on her ancient sewing machine in the basement and always let me thread the needle. The whole family, aunts, uncles and cousins would have Sunday lunch at her house, and she’d always have a ham and make green jello salad. These are the strongest memories I have of her.
When I asked my aunts to give me her wassail recipe, the one I remember year after year, my Aunt Judy said “Oh, you know Grandmother. It was just cider and red hots.” So I asked my Aunt Nancy to send me her recipe instead. Nancy said this is one Grandmother used to make before she switched to red hots. But I love that even the simplest of things, like the smell of spiced cider in the house evokes nostalgia of many Christmases with thirty people in her little ranch home with the storm door open to let the cold air in.
Wassail is just another word for spiced apple cider, and it’s a really simple simmer-on-the-stovetop recipe. Here’s how you make it!
It’s so simple! In a large pot, add the cinnamon sticks, ginger, cloves, cider, orange juice concentrate, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Once boiling, bring down to a simmer. Simmer very low for 20 minutes. Skim off the cloves and cinnamon with a chinese skimmer or strain the whole mixture into another serving container. Serve hot in mugs.
- 1 qt apple cider
- 5 cups water
- 6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 cup sugar
- In a large dutch oven or pot, add all the ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, and then simmer on low for 20 minutes. Use a chinese skimmer to strain out some of the cloves and cinnamon or use a strainer to pour into another container for serving. Serve hot.