Every holiday, I assemble a special care package for my mother-in-law in Stadtroda, Germany, and a few of her dearest friends. This year’s treat involved DIY spice packets that can be used to jazz up a bottle of apple cider or fruity zinfandel … perfect for sipping by an open fire on a snowy winter night! Here’s the final product, complete with a tag I created with instructions for mulling the spices (hand-distressed and in Deutsch).
Ingredients (makes 8 spice packets)
4 oranges (sliced in 1/8-inch rounds)
8oz of fresh ginger (sliced)
8 cinnamon sticks
40 whole black peppercorns
24 whole allspice berries
24 whole star anise pods
16 whole cloves
Commence your spice-making adventures by drying out some 1/8-inch orange slices (4 hours) and ginger slices (3 hours) in a single layer at 175 degrees. Orange flesh should feel tacky and ginger slices should curl up along the sides. Flip the oranges and reverse the trays to even out the drying process. (Scroll down for the full ingredients list).
After the orange and ginger slices have cooled, separate them into groups of 8 and add to each group an aromatic assortment of 2 cloves, 3 whole all spice berries, 1 cinnamon stick, 5 whole black peppercorns and 3 whole star anise pods.
Package them up in small parchment paper parcels and tie in twine or hemp cord to keep them tidy.
For final presentation, wrap them in an exterior layer of festive paper! I got a couple sheets of handmade paper from Paper Presentation, tied a gold ribbon around it, and added a convenient instruction tag for mulling one’s cider or wine.
To use: In a saucepan, combine contents of spice packet with a 750-mL bottle of apple cider or a fruity red wine (like Zinfandel). Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover & let steep for 10-15 minutes before serving. Guten appetit! *e