Dec 5

2012

Homemade Mulling Spice Mix

I’m not entirely sure where November went, but December (and with it, the holiday cooking season) seems to have arrived quite suddenly. Before Thanksgiving, I felt like I was finally on it for my holiday planning: I had lists, I had a rough cooking schedule (don’t judge me), I had some hard-to-find ingredients ordered. But now we’re here, hurtling through the first week of December, and I feel overwhelmed and scrambled and concerned that I won’t get everything done. As usual, I’ve probably scheduled waaaaaay too many recipes to try, I decided months ago that throwing a food-filled holiday party this weekend would be a good idea, and I have a fantastically busy schedule at work.

However, at least one of my gift-giving projects is already under way and is actually right on schedule. And just in case you think it’s a swell idea too, I’m gonna go ahead and ruin the surprise for those of you on my Santa list this year.

Everyone on my list is getting homemade mulling spices! And, because it’s fun and I like sharing, I’m hosting a little giveaway so that three of you readers can have some too!

Last year, my holiday crafty-gift-project was making these little hot chocolate sticks. They were a hit, and they make a mean mug of hot chocolate, but this year I wanted to come up with something a bit more versatile. After seeing tiny containers of mulling spices being sold at a market in Ohio, I knew I had found my next project.

Mulling spices, if you’ve not heard them called that before, refer collectively to the spices generally used to turn apple cider and red wine into mulled cider and mulled wine. I’ve seen dozens of recipes, and used a few myself, but mulling spices typically include cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, orange peel, and lemon peel in a variety of combinations.

The first step? Buying those dang spices. And lots.

I already buy most of my herbs and spices in the bulk spice section of the co-op grocery store, which is MUCH less expensive than buying them one bottle at a time, and I knew I could pick up a cup or two of many of the spices I’d need that way. But the dried orange peel, lemon peel, and candied ginger were not available. But it turns out you can order whole bags of these in bulk, and they’re fairly reasonably priced. Hooray for Amazon!

With spices in hand, I now needed a way to make tiny bags of them. You can use cheesecloth and tie it up, but I wanted to use something with a more finished look. T-sacs, which are essentially empty tea bags, seemed to fit the bill just right.

With spices and satchels in hand, all that’s left is mixing and constructing. The cinnamon sticks and nutmegs require just a bit of breaking, which can easily be achieved with an old, heavy pot and a freezer bag, and the ginger needs to be chopped, but that’s all you need to get all your spices in a bowl and turn them into mulling spice.

Once the mix is ready, each tea bag gets two heaping tablespoons of the mix. Then each bag is pinched closed, tied off, and trimmed of excess paper.

And look! Each little bag is perfect for mulling one bottle of wine or one 1/2 gallon of apple cider. I tested a bag for myself in apple cider, and the result was perfect. The tea bags are thin enough to allow the flavor of the spices to flow through the liquid, but sturdy enough to stay in the pot for 30 or 40 minutes while the cider simmers.

Now the bags are ready to give away as is, but I’m giving mine as sets of four in these cute little quarter-pound candy boxes I found online. Along with some pretty ribbon, I added a label for each box with instructions for making both mulled cider and mulled wine.

So here they are! Little packages of mulling spices to perk up your holiday party beverages. My friends and family will have to wait for Christmas to receive theirs, but not you! I’m doing a little giveaway and mailing a box of these little spice satchels to three readers. Want it to be you? Here’s how to enter:

GIVEAWAY CLOSED: How to Win A Box Of Mulling Spice Mixes

1. Leave one comment on this post to answer this question: What is your favorite holiday party treat or drink?
2. BONUS! To enter twice, head on over to 30 Pounds of Apples on Facebook and like the page. Then, come back to this post and leave me a comment saying you liked the Facebook page, and you’ll be entered twice. Fancy!
3. Enter before 11:59pm EST on Sunday, December 9. Winners will be announced on Monday, December 10.
4. Open to US residents only (sorry to my international readers, shipping is so dang expensive!)


Homemade Mulling Spice Mix
Adapted from About.com

Makes 32 spice bags

Supplies
32 empty tea bags (I use #3 T-sacs)
cooking twine
quarter-pound candy boxes (optional)
instruction labels (optional) Here’s the template I made!
ribbon (optional)

Ingredients
6 oz whole cinnamon sticks
10 whole nutmegs
2/3 c dried orange peel
2/3 c dried lemon peel
3/4 c whole cloves
1/2 c allspice berries
1/3 c finely chopped crystallized ginger

Place cinnamon sticks and nutmegs in a zippered freezer bag and close, pressing out all the air from the bag. Place the bag on a cutting board and pound with a heavy pot or frying pan until sticks and nutmegs are broken into pieces. Chop ginger into small pieces.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Set aside. Cut kitchen twine into 32 six-inch pieces. Place two slightly heaping tablespoons full of spice mix into each tea bag and tap gently on a hard surface to settle the spices in the bottom of the bag. Fill all bags until spice mixture is completely used up.

Pinch each bag closed about one inch above the top of the spices so they have enough room to expand and move around while in the liquid. Tie a double knot around the pinched point with the kitchen twine, and add a bow if you like.

If you are giving these as gifts, make sure to include the instructions below for your recipients.

To Make Mulled Apple Cider
Combine 1/2 gallon apple cider and 1 spice bag in a crock pot or a large pot on the stove. Heat for 30-40 minutes or until hot. Remove spice bag and discard. Serve hot.

To Make Mulled Wine
Combine 1/3 c sugar and 1/2 c water in a large pot on medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add 750 ml of red wine and 1 spice bag. Reduce heat to low and heat until wine is hot. Remove spice bag and discard. Serve hot. 

44 Comments

  1. Tesla Beals says:

    1. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate!

    2. Liked the Facebook Page! :)

    Love the blog!

  2. Kate. says:

    Where did you get the little tea bags?

    1. Kristi @ 30 Pounds of Apples says:

      Amazon, where else? I have a direct link to them in the “Supplies” section of the actual recipe. I imagine you could also find them at specialty tea shops and maybe even the tea section at bigger grocery stores, as well.

  3. Lauren says:

    You are the coolest!! I envy your skills!!!

  4. Heidi Halstead says:

    One of my favorite holiday treats are honey cookies. My mom always makes a huge batch at Christmastime, her recipe makes about a hundred cutout cookies!

  5. heidi Halstead says:

    I already previously “liked” your FB page – does that still count to the giveaway? :)

  6. Monika says:

    Your photographs are simply beautiful and inspire me to take better ones! What a wonderful idea! Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Kristi @ 30 Pounds of Apples says:

      How flattering! I’m so happy you enjoy the photos… I sure enjoy taking them!

  7. Monika says:

    I got distracted by the beautiful pictures that I didn’t see the contest! My favorite holiday party treat is a Russian tea cake cookie. Together with coffee that I make with a little orange zest and cinnamon…yum! My wonderful friend Mer introduced me to Russian tea cakes (and taught me how to make them) back in high school and I have fond memories of making them with her during the holidays!

  8. Monika says:

    Like Heidi, I too have liked your FB page previously! Thanks for your posts…I always enjoy them.

  9. Sylvia says:

    My favorite holliday treat is mulled wine!
    I tried my other favorite holiday treat years ago and it was baked(? – warm) brie with a cranberry topping at a holiday event. I’m not sure who brought it, but it was soooooo amazing and I wish I had the recipe for the topping.

    1. Kristi @ 30 Pounds of Apples says:

      Sylvia. That sounds soo delightful. I’ll wager that the cranberry topping is relatively easy… my favorite cranberry sauce recipe is over here at Smitten Kitchen. It’s the first one of the three.

  10. Sylvia says:

    I liked you FB page. Please pick me! Pick me! :-)

  11. Jess says:

    I love apple cider sangria!!!

  12. Jess says:

    Oh, and I liked your facebook page!

  13. Tam says:

    I love mulled cider and these chocolate cookies that you roll into a ball and then roll in powdered sugar so that they crack and look beautiful when they’re baked.

    I also think that we might live fairly near to each other, I’m near downtown Durham, which means that you could save the shipping costs! :)

    1. Kristi @ 30 Pounds of Apples says:

      Well hells bells… a local! Hi there!

  14. Lesley says:

    Favorite holiday treat is my mother-in-law’s Nutmeg Butterballs (Mexican Wedding-ish cookies). I make them with the same recipe, but they never come out the same. I keep trying. :\

    Can’t wait to try the mulling spices – LOVED the hot chocolate sticks.

    Been a Facebook fan, but got my daughter to ‘like’ you page too.

  15. Julia says:

    Beautiful! I love this idea for gift giving.

  16. eleanor says:

    Oh I LOVE mulling spices :) Hot Apple Cider is without a doubt my favorite cold weather drink. What a GREAT giveaway :)

  17. Sara Rice says:

    You are an inspiration. I envy what you are able to do!

    1. Kristi @ 30 Pounds of Apples says:

      Why thank you! All it takes is a fridge full of ingredients and just a smidge of crazy :)

  18. Ron says:

    Glazed pecans

  19. Sara Rice says:

    Liked on Facebook as well… And realized I didn’t enter like I was suppose to. My fav holiday treat are these chocolate covered cherry cookies my mom makes! I always look forward to them!

  20. Mels says:

    Where did you find those beautiful little boxes? Such a gorgeous gift idea!

    1. Kristi @ 30 Pounds of Apples says:

      Aren’t the boxes neat? I found them at Box and Wrap, and I linked directly to the style in the “Supplies” section of the recipe. I ordered the 1/4-pound size in “Kraft”. I fear that website could now become a financially dangerous haunt of mine…

  21. This is one of the cutest holiday gift ideas, I have come across this year!

  22. Hannah says:

    spiked homemade eggnog is my favorite holiday treat- my mother and i make it every christmas together!

    also, i liked the facebook page :)

  23. Marcia says:

    I liked your Facebook page and my favorite holiday treat is cut out sugar cookies that we have made since I was a kid, made with my daughter and now this year with my granddaughter! I love to watch the traditions be passed down!

  24. Carrie says:

    Caramel Apple Cider – mmmmm.

  25. jan says:

    I LOVE carmel apple cider… these homemade mulling spices would be a perfect gift for neighbors!

  26. Amanda says:

    This is a great idea, love your photography.

  27. Rose says:

    I liked your facebook page, and my favorite holiday treat is Spritz cookies. My mom usually makes them every year… This year I have her recipe, so that’s what I’ll be making since I’m hosting my family at my house for Christmas.

  28. Christopher says:

    My favorite holiday treat would have to be pumpkin pie. There’s nothing more comforting than the smell and the taste!

    P.S. I liked the facebook page :)

  29. M'ris berlin says:

    caramel apple cider!

    I liked the blog on FB.

  30. Barbara says:

    My favorite holiday treat is Kringla, a Norwegian treat that my mom makes…mmm…

    Also, I’ve liked your facebook page.

  31. Diane says:

    We always do trays of appetizers for Xmas Eve. Started this when the girls were little, so it was always fun finger food like mini quiches, mini sausages etc. Saw your parents at DIA on their way to Florida. We were on our way to see Caitlin at the CIA in NY. Have a happy holiday season!

  32. Amy Z. says:

    I love vanilla eggnog! This is such a great idea for a holiday gift!

  33. Natalie Hill says:

    My favorite holiday drink is simply apple cider. It’s such a classic; what could be better? And I liked your facebook page a while ago!

    Cheers!

  34. Shannon says:

    Just one favorite holiday treat? I think fudge then, if I must chose just one.

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