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This Spiced Mulled Cider Has A Secret Ingredient To Support Winter Immunity

Kami McBride
Herbalist
By Kami McBride
Herbalist
Kami McBride is a well-known author and educator whose bestselling book, "The Herbal Kitchen," has helped thousands of people learn how to use common kitchen herbs and spices in delightfully simple, new, and delicious ways. She developed and taught the herbal curriculum for the Complementary Medicine Department at the University of California School of Nursing, and she founded the Living Awareness Institute in 1994 where she offers online herbalism courses to students of all skill levels.
Image by Pixel Stories / Stocksy
January 5, 2022

Spiced mulled cider is a delicious winter treat—and it's easier to whip up than you might think.

This recipe builds upon store-bought apple cider with six delicious functional herbs and spices that have been used for centuries to support winter wellness. It only takes one hour for this seasonal drink to simmer in the background while you make dinner, tidy up, or sit back and relax. And as an added bonus, you'll love the way the warming, spicy scent wafts through your home. (This is a great recipe to keep on hand for when you host winter parties, as the guests will be greeted with the most comforting aroma as they walk through your door!)

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All of the herbs and spices used in this recipe can help promote health, but astragalus root (Astragalus mongholicus) is the all-star player for immune support. Research shows that the adaptogen can promote a healthy immune response while supporting the body's ability to manage stress—something we could all use a little help with these days!

Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have incorporated astragalus root into broths, soups, and decoctions for centuries. More recently, Western herbalists, like myself, have learned about astragalus root's nourishing properties, and its popularity has risen here in the U.S. You can now find astragalus tinctures and supplements online and at most local wellness centers. The root itself is the ideal ingredient to use in liquid-based recipes that require simmering, like soups, grains, or the cider recipe, below! Just remember to remove the root from the beverage before you start sipping, as the fibrous strips are too tough and chewy to eat. 

Immune-Supporting Spiced Mulled Cider

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts organic apple cider
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 astragalus root slices (I like these from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon powdered clove
  • 1 teaspoon powdered nutmeg
  • Peel from 1 orange
  • A cotton muslin bag (You can either buy this premade, or make your own by tying a piece of clean cotton fabric closed with a piece of string.)
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Method:

  1. Pour the cider into a large stockpot over low heat.
  2. Place the ingredients into your cotton bag. If you don't have muslin or a bag, then simply add the ingredients directly to the stockpot.
  3. Let the herbs infuse in the apple cider over low heat for one hour, covered.
  4. Remove the muslin bag from the cider (or strain the solid materials from the liquid). 
  5. Serve warm, and enjoy the comforting benefits of this beloved winter drink. You can pack it in thermoses for a delightful treat while you sled, hike, or ski on cold days; add an ounce (or two!) of your favorite whiskey to make an adults-only version; or add a drizzle of honey for anyone in your family who lives on the sweeter side of life.

This spiced cider recipe has become a functional favorite in my household, and I bet that once you make it, you'll be back for more before too long.

Kami McBride
Kami McBride
Herbalist

Kami McBride is an experienced herbalist, educator, and author whose well-known book, The Herbal Kitchen, has helped thousands of people unlock the healing potential of their spice cabinets and herb gardens. She developed and taught the herbal curriculum for the Complementary Medicine Department at the University of California School of Nursing, and she founded the Living Awareness Institute in 1994 where she offers online herbalism courses to students of all skill levels. Kami lives in California with her husband and children, and she can often be found concocting seasonal recipes in her kitchen and spending time with her favorite plants outdoors.

Find Kami on Instagram @Kamimcbride or online at www.KamiMcbride.com.