Tonight is Twelfth Night, the official end to the Christmas holiday season, and therefore a good excuse for a final celebration. If you are vague about the Twelve Days of Christmas, there are links below this post to my stories from previous years which explain their origin and traditions (including of course, food!)
I found the recipe which supplied the title for this post in a book called On Uncle Sam's Water Wagon: 500 recipes for delicious drinks, which can be made at home (New York and London, 1919.) As the title suggests, this is a temperance text which supplies recipes for “delicious, appetizing, and wholesome drinks free from the alcoholic taint.”
I am a little mystified as to why cider (which appears in quite a number of the recipes) is free from “alcoholic taint.” Perhaps it assumes non-alcoholic cider? Or was it very weak cider, in the same way that “near beer” was acceptable. Anyway, I give you the recipe for tonight - feel free to use cider tainted to whatever alcoholic level you desire:
Twelfth Night Cider
Put three quarts of cider in a porcelain-lined kettle, add one fourth cup of vanilla syrup, a bit of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg tied in a muslin bag, and a piece of lemon peel. Let it simmer for fifteen minutes, remove spice bag and lemon peel, and pour into a punch bowl. Put in the bowl a few baked apples that have been baked with cinnamon and sugar. Serve very hot.
Another interesting project might be to plan ahead to make the following beverage for next Christmas – assuming that you have access to elder bushes where you live.
To make Elder Wine at Christmas.
Take of Malaga or Lipara Raisins 20 Pounds, rub them clean, and shred them small; then take 5 Gallons of Water, boil it an Hour; and when it is near cold, put it in a Tub with the Raisins; let them steep ten Days, stirring them once or twice a Day; then strain it through a Hair Sieve, and, by Infusion, draw 3 Pints of Elder Juice, and 1 Pint of Damson Juice; make the Juice into a thin Syrup, a Pound of Sugar to a Pint of Juice; and not boil it much, but just enough to keep. When you have strained out the Raisin Liquor, put it, with the Syrup, into a Vessel sit for it, and 2 Pounds of Sugar; slop the Bung with a Cork till it gathers to a Head; then open it, and let it stand till it has done working.; then put the Cork in again, and stop it very close, and let it stand in a warm Place two or three Months, and then bottle it. Make the Elder and Damson Juice into Syrup in its Season, and keep it in a cold Cellar till you have Convenience to make the Wine.
The complete family-piece: and, country gentleman, and farmer's best guide (London, 1737)
My 2007 series of posts explaining The Twelve Days of Christmas, with a story for each of the days inspired by the traditional song:-
Other Twelve Days of Christmas posts include recipes for Twelfth Cake, Epiphany Tart, and Cod Cakes.
I think the American usage of 'cider' often means apple juice and they use 'hard cider' for the alcoholic sort. Caused a certain amount of confusion when we first took our Canadian niece to an English pub!
The default "cider" without modification in the US is still non-alcoholic. The alcoholic kind is usually called "hard cider" there.
Thanks, Steve and Mercy: local knowledge is always useful! The opposite occurs here in Australia - cider is alcoholic, unless it is labelled otherwise!
Steve: "cider" isn't used for all apple juice. cider is never filtered like apple juice (not clear) and I think it's usually specific types of apples. Certainly the unfiltered apple juice over here in Germany almost never tastes like cider to me! (Once, just once, two years ago, we lucked out with the product of my in-laws' crop of apples that they had juiced, and wound up with liters and liters of cider, but this year's crop turned out just plain unfiltered apple juice. Sadly.)
I grew up in an apple-growing area in the US --down to the yearly apple festival, with fresh-pressed cider, apple pie, apple fritters (the doughnut kind and the battered-apple-ring-kind) and parking in an old apple orchard, where you could pick the apples and eat them on your way to/from the car.
Mind you, back when I was growing up, I got sick of apple foods by early November every year (the festival was mid-October). My mother used to bake apple pies for a church's fundraising table at the festival, so from September on the whole house smelled of apples (the earlier pies were frozen). But now that I live overseas, I miss a lot of the apple-based foods. But especially cider.
I think there's a good chance that 19th century and earlier recipes calling for cider mean hard cider rather than apple juice; it seems that the use of "cider" to mean "unfermented apple juice" dates to the Prohibition era; the most popular brand of sparkling cider in the U.S., Martinelli's, claims that they were the first sparkling apple cider on the market, in the 1920s, to provide a non-alcoholic alternative to champagne during Prohibition. I haven't seen many older recipes calling for "cider" that make it clear that they mean "apple juice"; the only one I can think of is a recipe for apple sauce from Sarah Josepha Hale's _The Good Housekeeper_ from 1841, that calls for "new sweet cider" to be boiled down to a syrup.
I've read a few temperance cookbooks that include recipes for fermented/brewed beverages like ginger beer and spruce beer, as well as cider. I think that most people in the temperance movement focused more on hard liquors, wine and beer, than the lower-alcohol drinks like cider and ginger beer. I get the impression that ginger beers, etc. were not considered strong enough to be intoxicating, and perhaps not popular enough to be a widespread problem, unlike whisky, gin, rum, etc. I have read one recipe book that explained that some people defined "temperance" as "total abstinence from alcohol in any amount and for any reason", and some defined it as "abstinence from strong alcohol for recreational purposes, but allowing moderate use of low-alcohol drinks, and use of small amounts of strong liquors for medicinal and preserving purposes."
Just to add to the Americanization of cider - until Prohibition cider was REAL cider, and not, as my Grampy said, Apple Juice. All those apple orchards were for cider that would keep. When I was young, many of the signs at the cider mills put cider in quotes, and if you went back in March,by invitation, then you could get some real stuff.
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