I love hot apple cider. I can recall special evenings during the holidays when my family would sit down with a classic Christmas movie, a bowl of popcorn or caramel corn, and a mug of hot apple cider made from our delicious cider beetles.
I have carried on the tradition of apple cider with my own children. Cider beetles are fun and easy to create, and equally as fun to give as a gift, along with a bottle of apple juice, for friends and family at Christmas.
Organic Brown Sugar
Half of a Whole Nutmeg
Six Whole Cloves
Half a Cinnamon Stick
Half a Dried, Gutted Orange
When oranges are ripe, we cut them in half, eat the inside out, and then place them in a warm place to dry for several days. There are usually several saved up for our "beetles"!
Take your dried orange peel and fill it most of the way with brown sugar. Then place your cinnamon stick toward the bottom center (this is the body). Then place your half nutmeg towards the center top (this is the head). Place the six cloves, three on each side of the cinnamon stick as the legs.
When giving as gifts, we wrap the finished product tightly in a piece of plastic wrap, bringing the bulk of the wrap to the top, and then tie it off with a piece of curl ribbon.
Cooking the Cider
To make the cider, place 2 quarts of unsweetened apple juice in a large pot. Bring it to a simmer, and place your cider beetle into the pot of juice. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Then serve!
I do like to let my cider beetle sit in the juice for 10 or 20 minutes more, after I have turned the stove off. The longer you let it sit, the more flavor it has. However, too long can make the juice bitter.