Good Morning! Ambassador of Fall here, checking in for Monday. This is it–the week with the actual first day of fall for those of you who like to follow the rules. As you know, I’ve been rolling out the red carpet for fall a little early to give it a proper welcome, of course. In doing so, I’m happy to report we found pumpkins at Trader Joe’s last week, and we simmered our second batch of wassail for the season over the weekend.
What’s this wassail you speak of, you ask? If you’re not familiar with wassail, basically it’s a hot mulled cider. My mom used to make it, and I associate it with all things fall and cozy. Traditionally, drinking wassail was an important part of “wassailing” in parts of England years ago–a Yuletide ceremony that involved singing and drinking and was believed to help bring a good cider apple harvest the following year. The word wassail actually comes from the Anglo-saxon phrase “waes hael” which means “good health.” This scene in Little Women summarizes all the wassail feels…deliciously cozy. And yes, sometimes when I make wassail, I reenact that scene.
Traditional wassail recipes have evolved over the years, and there are a number of different ways to make and serve it today. Years ago, wassail was made from mulled ale, curdled cream, eggs, roasted apples and winter spices, and was served from large pewter wassail bowls. Today, it usually involves hot apple cider, citrus of some sort, sugar and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice), and sometimes bourbon or whiskey is added.
I’ve used the same basic recipe over the years (although recently I’ve cut the brown sugar completely out of it because sugar is the dragon, and I am the dragon slayer). My kids finally like wassail too now, and I love that we only drink it in the fall and winter, so they’ll have all those cozy end-of-year memories with it.
3 cups apple cider
Juice from 1 orange (or 3/4 cup of orange juice)
Lots of Orange Zest (I love lots of pieces of citrus peel in my wassail, especially once it cooks down)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
Optional: 1 tbsp. brown sugar, dash ginger, dash nutmeg, bourbon or whiskey
Float/Garnish: 2-3 cinnamon sticks, orange or apple slices, dried apple rings
Pour all that fall goodness into a pot, bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for a while. Your kitchen will smell like the essence of Autumn.
Make it once, and you’ve already passed Wassail 101 and are ready for Advanced Studies Wassail which involves ditching the measuring and pouring a little of this and shaking a little of that into a pot. You can’t go wrong with variations of the ingredients–it will turn out delicious every time.
Best served with a big wooden ladle.
And how cute are these little pottery cups, perfect little sipping size for the kids. These are The Toddler Cup from East Fork Pottery. Everything they make is beautiful.
Garnish cup with a little apple ring.
I make a pot of wassail with our Halloween chili every year and pour a big travel mug to take trick-or-treating
You know what goes good with wassail? The 2018 Fall Playlist. I curated a big list of songs I’d have looping 24/7 if I were, say, trapped in a cabin in the mountains sipping wassail while I sat in a window nook, watching the leaves fall. You can also play it right from this post. Go ahead, give it a try…while your wassail is simmering.