Thursday, 19 December 2013

Hamper Ideas - Mulled Wine and Cider Sachets

When Christmas time rolls around, there's only one alcoholic drink I want to drink - mulled wine. It's warming, fruity and spicy, and just smells like Christmas to me. It's something it seems a lot of people like to drink, but don't want to make from scratch because it seems like too much effort. Realistically there's only a few spices needed, and most you may well have lurking in the back of the cupboard from when you bought them to make a curry once 10 years ago. So what better gift to give, than a bottle of wine with a homemade sachet tied round the neck, or add it to your Christmas hampers this year.

This is everything you need: per one sachet

20 allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick (broken in to pieces)
30 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1tsp orange or mixed peel

Cotton thread
4" square piece of cheesecloth or muslin fabric
Gold or silver ribbon

Allspice berries are the only things that can be a little difficult to get hold of, I could only find them in one supermarket in the UK (Waitrose). For the squares of fabric I recommend cheesecloth as it doesn't fray much. My fabric store was out of it this year though so I've used a thin muslin, but I am a little worried it may fray a little into the wine, although that's easily sorted by straining it.

So all you need to do is put all the ingredients for each sachet in a little pile in the middle of the fabric square. Bring the corners together and tie the cotton thread around it securely so none of the spices will fall out. Tie some Christmassy ribbon around the sachet for decoration. Write a little gift tag with how to use it:
Remove the ribbon from the sachet and add with 3 tbsp of sugar, and 750ml (one bottle) of red wine to a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15min. Ladle into mugs and serve hot. Garnish with a slice of orange.

As well as mulled wine, this year I've also made some mulled cider sachets to give to family. As my family are all from the west county, the county of Somerset where everyone knows the best cider is made and originated, I thought they might go down quite well.

For each cider sachet the spices you need are:

2 sticks of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp allspice berries

Include these instructions on your gift tag: Simmer 1 sachet in 2 quarts (4 pints) apple cider for 15 minutes.
The good thing about these sachets is that they could be easily used for apple juice rather than cider for those non-drinking friends and family. 

Don't forget to keep one sachet at least for yourself!

Emily Kate


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