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Chai Cider

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Chai Cider

Chai Cider
Ben Fink
Provided by:
total prep
When Charlie and I discovered that we had a plot of Pippin apple trees on our property, we were so excited that we couldn’t wait for the fall harvest. Untended for nearly a decade, the trees were wild and gnarly like something out of a children’s fairy tale. Lucky for us, their homely appearance didn’t affect the crisp, incredibly floral tasting, palm-size apples that sprang from the trees in September.

We like to keep the cider in a saucepan on the stove on the lowest heat possible (or in the carafe of a drip coffee maker on the warm setting). The result is a warm spiced-apple perfume that smells one hundred times better than any potpourri or scented candle. Cider is the absolute essence of the countryside in the fall.

Recipe courtesy of Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country by Suvir Saran with Raquel Pelzel and Charlie Burd. Published by Chronicle Books, 2012.


  • 4 qts/3.8L apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/2 cup/100g packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 apples (preferably Pippins or Granny Smiths), thinly sliced and cut crosswise into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup/110g halved kumquats or 2 small seedless oranges, sliced into eighths
  • 3 oranges, quartered and seeded
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 3 Darjeeling tea bags
  • Cognac or Armagnac (optional)
  • Fresh cranberries (optional)


  • Combine the cider, brown sugar, ginger, apples, and kumquats in a slow cooker.
  • Wrap the quartered oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and peppercorns in a large piece of cheesecloth and tie to prevent from opening. Add to the pot, and cook on the lowest possible heat until the apples are completely tender and soft, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  • Once you are ready to serve, steep the tea bags in the hot cider for 10 minutes. Remove and discard along with the spice packet.
  • Ladle the cider into mugs with a shot of cognac (if using). Top each cup with some of the apples, kumquats, and cranberries, and serve.

  • Variation: Stovetop Cider
    If you don’t have a slow cooker, follow the recipe using a large pot over low heat and reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Variation: Apple Cider Glaze
    A great use for any leftover cider, this glaze makes a delicious finishing addition to pork chops or a ham.
    Strain the leftover apple cider to remove any solid bits of fruit or spice. Measure the strained cider, then pour into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. While the cider warms, dissolve 1/2 tsp cornstarch with 1 tbsp cider in a small cup or bowl for every 1 cup/240 ml cider in the saucepan. Add the cornstarch slurry to the simmering cider and stir until it thickens. Remove from the heat and brush the glaze over a ham or pork chops, or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Reheat gently (don’t let it come to a simmer) before glazing.