I love the year’s markers and events and the autumn is packed with them! Celebrations of a summer well spent and a farewell to long days with the lighting of fires and candles, and then on into the winter as we drift from Harvest Festival into Halloween, Bonfire Night and then tumble towards the warmth of Christmas. Apples feature heavily in our Autumn celebrations and this delicious spiced apple juice recipe pops up as we toast the harvest and apple bob at Halloween. We wrap our hands around warm mugs of it on Bonfire Night as the sky fills with fireworks and it brings comfort on cold winter nights.
21st October sees us celebrating Apple Day – established in 1990 by Common Ground as a celebration of the yearly crop. We celebrate it every year with some apple crafts and apple cakes, we throw apples into stews and we try to get to one of the local apple day celebrations (we live in Somerset – apple country!). Best of all, my daughter whips up a batch of her hot, spiced apple juice and we gather near the fire with our hands wrapped around steaming mugs of spicy deliciousness!
She usually serves it in heat proof glasses or our lovely pottery goblets but last year she had a stroke of genius and offered up a hollowed out apple per person – aren’t they beautiful?! I think this may well be the beginning of a new family tradition!
- 2 kilos (4½ pounds) apples or 1 litre (1¾ pints) of apple juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise plus extra to decorate
- 4 cloves
- thin strips of orange zest
- agave syrup or honey to taste
- Juice your apples using a juicer or juice attachment for a food mixer (or open your bought juice)
- Pour the apple juice into a saucepan
- Add the spices and orange zest
- Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes to allow the spices to impart their flavour
- Taste and add a little honey if required
- Serve in heat proof glasses or hollowed out apples
As luck would have it we have been sent a box of English apples with tasting notes, just in time for our apple day celebrations! I am a huge fan of Egremont Russet’s with their distinctive skin and flavour so I was delighted to find a couple of those in there along with some good old reliable Cox’s and Gala but Zari and Rubens were new to me and very nice they are too!
At an apple day event a few years ago we had the two old trees in our garden identified by the apple experts and were told that they are Crispin and Charles Ross respectively – neither store very well so we eat them as they ripen, juice the ones which leap off the tree with wild abandon and I cook the rest up for the freezer to keep us going through the winter.
English apples are definitely the tastiest and I would urge you to reach for the apples wearing their Union Jack stickers with pride when you are shopping this autumn – or to visit your local orchard and pick your own! Once you have – make Spiced Apple Juice and ward off the autumn chill!