Mulling spices are easy to whip up and make a fun holiday gift. They are traditionally used to spice cider or wine, but you can flavor any liquid with them. Try black tea, rum, maple syrup, or vinegar! You can even just simmer them on the stove in water for a festive scent.
This recipe will make 12 ornaments.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 12 dried orange slices. I cut 3 oranges into thin slices, then put them in a food dehydrator for about 7 hours. You can also use store-bought.
- 12 dried apple slices. I used about 3 apples, and dried them in the food dehydrator for about 6 hours.
- 120 whole cloves, plus extra. I know that sounds absurd; it’s enough to have 5 per orange slice and 5 per apple slice. One .62 oz container from the grocery store is more than enough.
- 18-ish cinnamon sticks.
- 36-ish star anise pods.
- 3-ish tablespoons of allspice berries.
- 12 plastic ornaments that split in half; I used these from Michael’s.
- Twine, ribbon, or yarn for hanging
- Washi tape or clear tape
First thing’s first: wash your ornaments with dish soap and water. This is a food item so you want your containers to be clean. Set them aside to dry. Next, festoon your orange and apple slices with the whole cloves. They poke easily through the orange flesh, but for the apples, I cut 5 small holes in the with the tip of a steak knife. I like to place them in the fruit in a star pattern. Put one orange slice and one apple slice in each ornament.
You can leave your cinnamon sticks whole if they’re small enough to fit in your ornament. I suggest breaking each one in half, just so your recipient can use each bag twice to make two small batches if they’d like. I crushed mine lightly with my mortar and pestle. Each ornament gets about one and a half sticks.
Next, put your star anise in the ornaments. I put in the equivalent of at least 3 pods, whole and pieces. I don’t crush my star anise because I love the star shape and want to preserve it. (See a theme here?)
Finally, I like to give my allspice berries a nice little crush with my mortar and pestle. I crush them in small batches for consistency. Divvy up the crushed berries between the ornaments.
The great thing about this spice mix is that you can tailor it to your taste. If you’d like to include more cloves, just pop them in the ornaments. If there’s another spice you’d like to use, toss it in as well. One of my recipients mentioned that they don’t like cinnamon if it’s overpowering, so I put their cinnamon in a little baggie inside the ornament so they can choose how much to use, if any.
To finish up the gift, close each ornament. I like to put a piece of decorative washi tape around the seam so it doesn’t accidentally split open and spill your spices everywhere. You can use clear tape instead, or washi tape over clear tape. Add twine for hanging, and a note to your recipient on how to use their mulling spices.
To make mulled wine with your spices, you’ll need a bottle of red wine (it can be inexpensive), a cup of brandy, and a cup of sugar. Bring all of the ingredients (including your mulling spices) to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then simmer it, covered, for at least 20 minutes. Serve it warm.
To make mulled cider with your spices, you’ll need 3 quarts of apple cider, 1/4 cup of orange juice, 2 tbsp. of brown sugar, and 1 cup of brandy if you’d like. Bring all of the ingredients except for the brandy to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the brandy if you’re using it, and serve it warm.
Now… what makes this witchy? There are star shapes throughout, symbolizing the pentagram. The pentagram represents protection, and also the five elements. Many witches practice herbalism, or botanical medicine. In herbalism, the ingredients used have the following properties:
- Orange – the fruit of joy & strengthening relationships
- Apple – the fruit of immortality; cut laterally the symbol of divination
- Clove – protection & divination; a sense of kinship
- Cinnamon – protection & love
- Star Anise – luck & divination
- Allspice – encourages healing; attracting good fortune