Glasses full of season flavor and cheer

Updated: Apr 5

Mulling Spices

This is a mixture of herbs commonly hitting the store shelves around the winter holiday season. It can be used to make many a hot drink on a cold evening.

Wassail is the historical drink made with this spice mixture. It is mentioned in the holiday song “Here we come a wassailing”, and refers to singing Christmas carols door to door wishing good health. While they were traveling, they would carry a cup of wassail to warm them or be invited in for some wassail.

The wassail often had alcohol added for extra warming and boisterous singing. "Wassailing" is a Twelfth Night tradition that has been practiced in Britain for centuries. It has roots in a pagan custom of visiting orchards to sing to the trees and spirits in the hope of ensuring a good harvest the following season.

The ingredients in Mulling spices are the following: Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cardamom, All Spice, and Orange Peel (which is sometimes added to the simmering bowl in the form of sliced oranges and lemons, or apples). All of these ingredients are not native to England and would have been shipped in by the spice merchants, and rather pricey. Recipes vary and you can exclude or include ingredients to taste or availability.

These spices can be added to apple cider, red wine, orange juice, or water to make tea, They are warmed together to infuse the flavors of the spice into the beverage. Besides the warmed red wine, other alcohols can chosen as a base for the beverage. Brandy, whiskey, or bourbon are used; but, you can add whatever your preference is. The spice blend can also be simmered in a water bath on top of the wood stove, or on the kitchen electric stove to release their wonderful spicy aroma to fill the whole house with that cinnamon-y holiday smell.

Besides tasting fantastic, these spices are so good for our health also. Most of them are warming herbs and act on the body to stimulate blood flow and help organs function better.

-The cinnamon has been shown to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, reducing swelling and restoring normal tissue function. This may help conditions like arthritis. The antioxidants in red wine and in cloves can also help reduce inflammation also.

-Cloves are also believed to have anti-viral properties, which is what we all need around this time of the year. The cloves are thought to help increase gut motility, as well as improving digestion. As a result, the cloves are thought to improve digestive problems, including indigestion, wind and constipation. The essential oil eugenol, found in cloves, has local anesthetic and antiseptic properties that can be used to help treat dental problems like toothache.

-Nutmeg can also help the cardiovascular system, as studies suggest it reduces cardiovascular disease and can boost heart function. Nutmeg may help clear the liver and kidneys of toxins, and is particularly effective as a liver tonic. It is said to also help prevent kidney stones forming.

-Ginger is a digestive aid and also helps with pain.

The fruit that you add is packed with vitamin C and will also keep us healthy in cold and flu season.

So, this winter season, pick up a packet of Mulling Spices and fill your home and your belly with the wonderful smell and taste of this traditional brew!

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