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Apples, Spices and Hot Mulled Cider

Where would we be without apples? These crisp, rosy fruits and believe it or not, they are a member of the rose family provide sweet, juicy eating when fresh, thirst-quenching beverages when pressed and mouthwatering flavors when preserved.

They are also one of the original health foods: Though the old phrase an apple a day keeps the doctor away may not literally be true, apples do contain dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium.

When not eaten out of hand, fresh and dried apples make a delectable addition to hot or cold breakfast cereals. Baked, simmered or fried, they are welcome at every meal, from breakfast to supper and late-night snacks. Apple juice and apple cider are among the worlds oldest soft drinks, while hard cider and apple brandy have been around for just about as long.

Because apples are an autumn crop and can be stored for many months, humans have long relied on them as a winter staple. And because apples also have a marked affinity for certain spices that enhance the fruits natural flavors, we have learned to associate spiced apples with winter holidays.

If your pantry includes allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, you have everything you need to make classic apple recipes including apple butter, apple crisp and apple pie. Mulled cider also calls for some grated orange peel, which is included in our Apple Cider Spice Blend. Here's how we make this fragrant, cheering hot drink:

Hot Mulled Cider-Click on Link

We tend to think of apples as a sweet treat, but they also have a surprising affinity for meats like pork and game. Our Maple Apple Sausage Rub mingles dried apple, maple, herbs and other spices for a savory blend you can use as a rub or to transform a jar of store-bought applesauce into a bespoke side dish for roast pork.

Looking for more apple ideas? Here are some intriguing recipes that have caught our eye online:

Braided apple bread

Apple brandy cocktails

Homemade pancake syrup made with apple peelings

What kind of apples should you use? With some 7,500 varieties in existence, this could be a challenge; but at most grocery stores, youll only have a few options. For baking and cooking, Macintosh and Granny Smith are good choices; avoid Red Delicious.