My Mulled Cider Jelly is a beautifully golden spiced apple jelly that’s an incredible addition to a fall cheese plate, or a simple turkey sandwich. It’s super quick to make, and it can be water bath canned for gift giving.
My pretty apple jelly is infused with traditional mulling spices
Mulled cider is one of those classic flavors that I don’t think about most of the year, but the minute September rolls around I start to crave it. Mulled cider is such an interesting drink, it has roots going way back to Medieval English Wassail and the practice of mulling wine goes all the way back to the Greeks! To ‘mull’ means to heat, sweeten, and flavor with spices. Suffice it to say it’s a delicious idea, and that’s why people have been enjoying it for so long. The mulled cider that we make every fall is basically good fresh apple cider heated on the stove or in a crock pot with those same whole spices that have been used for centuries. The spices infuse into the sweet juice for a warming, comforting, and healthy drink.
I’ve got an easy Crock Pot Mulled Wine recipe that I make several times a season because it makes the whole house smell so cozy. My Pomegranate Mulled Cider is a non-alcoholic version, and might be a nice alternative for the apple cider in this recipe.
What spices to use for mulled cider jelly ~
I use whole spices for mulling. Whole spices are relatively expensive, but useful for so many holiday recipes. I stock up in fall and use them right through winter. The good news is that they keep longer than ground spices. Check stores like Cost Plus World Market for affordable whole spices.
- cinnamon sticks
- whole cloves
- allspice berries
- whole nutmeg
- star anise
- green cardamom pods (crush the pods to release the tiny black seeds before adding)
- coriander seeds
Can you use ground spices for mulling?
Yes, you definitely can, but you will want to strain the cider through cheesecloth to remove the spices before making your jelly, or it will be cloudy. Ground spices will impart more flavor, so don’t over do the amounts. Taste as you go.
You can pre-mix your spices in a jar, just keep it tightly closed in your spice cabinet and you’ll be able to whip up a mulled beverage or jelly whenever the urge strikes.
What you’ll need to make mulled cider jelly
- a large non-reactive (steel or enameled cast iron) pot.
- mulling spices
- lemon juice
- small jars
- a water bath canner (if you choose to can your jelly)
The process for making jelly is surprisingly quick and easy, and you get a big payoff for your efforts. This recipe uses a quart of cider, a few spices, sugar, and pectin, and you’re rewarded with a good supply, enough to keep you satisfied and still have some to give away.
What’s the difference between apple cider and apple juice?
Surprisingly there’s no official difference, this is one of those cases where there’s no legal standard for defining apple cider versus apple juice. There are some commonly accepted differences, however…
- Some say that cider is fresh, raw, unfiltered apple juice, while apple juice has been filtered and pasteurized. Cider is often cloudy because of the unfiltered solids.
- The confusion comes at the supermarket where you can buy apple juice and apple cider that is virtually identical.
Can you use apple juice for this mulled jelly?
- Yes, absolutely. You can use apple cider, or apple juice with good results.
- Unfiltered cider will make a cloudier jelly, so if you want a crystal clear product, use juice or clear cider.
Which pectin to use for best results ~
Pectin can be confusing, and there are many types on the market, but it’s important to use the correct pectin for the particular recipe you’re following. For this recipe I use powdered pectin specifically formulated for “less or no sugar needed recipes”. It’s made by Sure Jell and it comes in the pink box.
How to serve mulled cider jelly ~
- on a cheese platter cider jelly goes well with all kinds of meats and cheeses. I like it with cheddar and Jarlsberg, and even soft cheese like Brie.
- spread on a sandwich, think turkey or ham.
- as part of an epic grilled cheese with a nutty Gruyere.
- on the side of roast chicken, ham, or roast pork (or as a glaze for these meats.)
- as a side for your holiday tables…the jelly would be nice with turkey or biscuits.
- use it as an ingredient in sauces like barbecue sauce, or in the sauce for cocktail meatballs.
Mulled Cider Jelly
- 4 cups apple cider
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp allspice berries
- 8 whole cloves
- 1/2 nutmeg
- Several whole star anise
- 4 cups or 800 grams sugar
- 1.75 ounce box of Sure Jell fruit pectin powder for less or no sugar recipes, in the pink box
- 1/2 Tbsp butter, to help reduce foaming
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- In a large non-reactive stock pot heat the cider with the spices to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours or more, if you like. The longer you let it sit the stronger the spice flavor will be.
- Strain the cider and put back into the pan along with the lemon juice and butter. Mix 1/4 cup of the sugar with the pectin, and stir into the cider. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. A rolling boil is defined as a full boil that cannot be stirred down.
- Add the rest of the sugar, stirring constantly, and bring back to a full rolling boil. Once at the full boil, let it boil for one minute (set a timer.) Be sure to stir constantly.
- Ladle the hot jelly immediately into sterile jars, filling to 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe down the jars and rims, and fasten the tops.
- To can, immerse the jars in a water bath canner, making sure the jars are covered by at least 1-2 inches of water. Process 5 minutes. (Adjust the time if you live at a high altitude.)
- After jars have cooled at room temperature for 24 hours, store in a cool, dry, dark space for up to a year. Store opened jars in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- If you choose not to can your jelly, it will last, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks. You can also freeze it for up to 6 months. (If you plan on freezing, leave at least 1/2 inch headspace in your jars to allow for expansion.)