“What on earth is wassail?” you may be asking. Let me give you a little history lesson! Old English “wæs hæl” literally means “be you healthy.” Wassail (or wassil) is traditionally a hot spiced cider that is sweetened and has other fruit juices added, and it was probably fermented and enjoyed as a hard cider back in the day.
Today, Wassail is generally a nonalcoholic hot beverage. Wassailing (you know, like the song “here we come a-wassailing”) refers to a medieval ritual to celebrate the apple trees and to ward off evil spirits for next year’s cider making. We can thank our English ancestors for this tasty drink. Wassail, in my personal experience, seems to be a much more Midwesterner thing. I’ve yet to meet someone in Utah who has ever heard of it, let alone loves it. Don’t worry, they are quickly converted! My sister Sarah and I can thank our Hoosier upbringing though for our love of wassail.
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Vanilla Cider Wassail
- 2 quarts apple cider (1/2 gallon)
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup Tate+Lyle® Vanilla Pure Cane Syrup
- 2 to 4 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
- dash of ground cloves
- Add all of the ingredients to a large pot and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. When it starts to boil, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve hot in mugs.
Store leftovers covered in the fridge and reheat before serving.
This recipe is easily multiplied if you are making cider wassail for a crowd, but it’s not so big that you can’t make it for your family one night and reheat the leftovers once. My kids even like cider wassail cold! This sweet and lightly spiced drink is sure to become a holiday tradition in your home in no time. We pressed about 50 gallons of cider a few weekends ago (from our own apples!), which means we’ll have plenty for wassail making. Yay!
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