It is autumn, which means you can find fancy little packets of fancy little mulling spices at fancy little grocery stores. They’re convenient, especially if you’re the type of person who goes through gallons of mulled wine and cider, but they’re kind of redundant, especially if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet.
The truth is, you don’t need a ton of different spices to make good mulling spice blend, and you probably have a wide enough variety in your spice rack already. If you’re not sure, check for any of the following (the amounts next to each indicate how much you’ll need for an 8-cup batch of mulled wine or cider):
If you have three or four of these, you can make your own mulling spices. Other than that, you’ll need a few of strips of lemon or orange zest or a couple of slices of fresh ginger. Then you’re ready to mull. Break your cinnamon stick(s) into a few pieces, then add to your mulling pot along with two or three spices, seeds, berries, or pods from the above list. Toast the spices over medium heat until fragrant (1-3 minutes), then add 8 cups of wine or cider along with 3 or 4 strips of orange or lemon zest and/or a couple of slices of fresh ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for half an hour.
Strain out the solids and return the wine or cider to the pot and keep warm over low heat. (If making mulled cider, strain through a sieve lined with a coffee filter to remove cider solids, which can coagulate and adversely affect the mouthfeel of your fine beverage.) Serve with an additional cinnamon stick or strips of orange zest with cloves pushed through for garnish. Mulled beverages can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and reheated at your leisure.