My favorite tradition

It’s October! In my world, this means Halloween has officially started!

You may know that I LOVE Halloween. We’ve already made a chicken wire ghost, we have a room full of new Halloween decorations (aka birthday presents!), and we’ve blocked out the coming weekend to get our pumpkins from the farm, maybe attend Penrose Apple Day, and to unpack and festivate the house for my favorite day of days.

I’m going to dress this place up, too with ghost stories! Despite not existing on the same plane as the otherwordly, I have a plethora of tales involving the mysterious, the haunted, and the paranormal. But first, I have to tell you something else. Today, you learn about my best and longest-running tradition because this is how I start October and we have to do things right around here.

On October 1st, I unpack my little crock pot and wash it out. I plug it in and fill the crock with apple cider (NOT juice. CIDER!) then toss in the following:

Whole star anise, dried orange peel, whole cloves, whole allspice, cardamom pods, fresh & peeled ginger root, cinnamon sticks, and a pinch of salt.

Newly-assembled apple cider, not yet delicious.

I turn it on low and leave it to simmer overnight. On October 2nd, we awake to the smell of almost-burnt holiday cider, ready for consumption.

But that’s only half of the tradition. The other half is that I don’t let this liquid deliciousness run out until December 31st. As it gets low, I pour more cider in (I often go through 10-20 gallons per season, depending on how many people come over), add more spices, keep it going. I turn it off during the day but as soon as we get home at night, we turn it back on and make sure to have at least one mug-full before bed. Once in awhile, the spice sludge builds up too much, too thick and there’s no room for cider. When that happens, I dump the sludge but I do not wash or even rinse the crock. I put it back, full of spicy remnants, and start again.

The cider changes over the course of three months; on October 2nd, it is pale, tart, and crisp. It tastes like fresh apples, burnished leaves and autumn air. By December 31st, it is dark, rich, and deeply fragrant. It is redolent of pinecones under layers of snow, of warm hearthsides, of hearty meals among the best of friends.

Come January 1st, whatever was not consumed is tossed out. The crock pot is washed, packed, and put away where it waits patiently for the first of October to come again.

Welcome to autumn, my friends. The potionarium is open and the cider is brewing. Next time, we’ll have a ghost story.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard

17 responses to “My favorite tradition

  1. I love cider and just reading everything in there, I felt like I was in your kitchen. I may steal this tradition. Hope that is okay. And I CANNOT WAIT for your ghost stories. I may be inspired to share one or two as well.

    • DO IT DO IT DO IT!!!
      Go get cider today and put it in the crock pot and burble it up until the whole house smells like fall! Please take this tradition and pass it along because it is really the best part of the end of the year!

      Yes, I had hoped my hint of ghost story-ness would bring out the stories in others. I hope blogs everywhere will start sharing tales of the unnatural this month!

  2. Tyler J. Yoder

    I was going to steal it, too!or at least pass it on to everyone I know. It sounds fantastic, plus the house would smell so good!

    • YES YES YES! Everyone should celebrate the end of the year in this fashion! Even if it’s just for a month…though the entire final quarter brings greater joy as you get to experience the metamorphosis of cider. But, whatever. DO IT! Share share share!

  3. And now I’m drooling on my keyboard. If this thing breaks and/or starts malfunctioning, I’m blaming it on you and your words for making me want to come to your house even more than I already did. Do. I want to stalk you forever now.
    Also: Making some cider soon.

    • …and I can’t wait for your stories. I may have to try to come up with a few of my own!

    • What? You can’t blame me for your inability to redirect drool! And that is also why you should always keep absorbent materials nearby, like cats, so that when you do need to drool, you can put the material over your hands or on your lap and let it catch the liquid. Dude. Why don’t you know this?
      GO make some cider and stop blaming me for your leakage.

  4. Miriam

    Do you also mull wine?

    • I’m going to have to start. Usually, that’s Mom’s job. I’ll have to find out what kind of wind she gets – it’s some German sweet mulling wine, but I don’t know the name or brand.

  5. Pingback: Happy Spooky Week; Part Boo! | Still Not A Journal.

  6. And thank you for passing your tradition to Jeff and I. I love this!

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