The Citrusy Spice That Will Level Up Mulled Apple Cider

Fall just wouldn't taste like fall without plenty of apples in all their forms, whether eaten out of hand, baked into a classic apple crisp, or crushed into cloudy, sweet-tart apple cider. While apples store exceptionally well and are available year-round, they truly shine during the fall harvest, when the sugars in the fresh fruit are at their peak (via University of Utah). It's no surprise, then, that apples show up in full force in so many autumn dishes and desserts — and in that magical fall elixir known as apple cider. 

Because the drink, in contrast to apple juice, is generally not filtered or pasteurized, it has a more robust flavor than juice, but also a shorter shelf life (via Kitchn). Therefore, it's a truly seasonal beverage, one that we just can't seem to get enough of when our favorite farmers market vendors offer it up each fall. Apple cider is, of course, delicious cold, but on chilly fall and winter nights, it's simply irresistible heated. Known as mulled cider, hot apple cider infused with spices and flavorings such as cinnamon sticks and an orange peel can be prepared in a multitude of ways, but there's one dried spice that really kicks the drink up a notch.

Coriander adds a delicious depth of flavor to mulled cider

If you've ever mulled cider at home — to be enjoyed as-is or perhaps spiked with a boozy nip of bourbon or brandy — then you may have picked up a supermarket packet of generic "mulling spices," or else slipped in your chosen dried spices and flavorings ranging from cinnamon to cloves to a citrus peel. As pointed out by Serious Eats, it's a great idea to put some extra thought into just how you'll flavor your mulled cider, in order to make the specific taste of apples shine through. Mulled cider should taste like mulled cider, after all, not mulled red wine, for example. The outlet recommends a specific blend of dried spices, each of which should contribute to the warm beverage tasting like "an apple pie cooling in the farmhouse of an apple orchard." 

These ingredients include toasted whole cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, and coriander, the last of which you might associate with savory applications such as cucumber pickles or garam masala spice blend. But coriander, which is the dried seed of the cilantro plant (via Healthline), adds a welcome musky citrus flavor to mulled cider, which, in concert with the sweetness, depth, spiciness, and floral nature of the other flavorings will contribute to one heck of a mulled cider. So get ready to celebrate fall by sourcing the best apple cider you can find, a handful of excellent dried spices, and perhaps some festive mugs, and sip some warm, top-notch mulled cider all season long.