I had never heard of wassail before the first cold day (after we were living in an apartment) in Irving, TX when Jennifer mentioned that it sounded like a tasty treat for such a nippy day. Apparently it’s a common holiday treat for her family. My family always tended more toward punch or hot chocolate, or maybe spiced cider, so I’d never heard of it. However, we made some and I decided it was quite nice :D. And, because it has so much fruit juice in it already, it was quite easy to adapt to use honey instead of white sugar. In this case the honey flavor is subsumed in the spices, and it just lends a nice light sweetness to the overall drink.┬áThe version Jennifer’s family makes uses grapefruit juice where I use pineapple, but Sean and I both prefer the pineapple flavor. Indeed, Jennifer and her mother have both said they like this version as well, so I guess it turned out alright :D. Using whole spices is best, as you can then fish them out when the flavor is as strong as you’d like, and you don’t get gritty residue in the bottom of the pot (or in your drink, if they got stirred up) from the ground spices. The flavor will survive a substitution, but the texture will not.

This is perfect for parties since it does best in the slow cooker. You can make it on the stovetop, and I’ll note how, but it is so simple in the slow cooker that, if you have the gadget and the time, you may as well. Even if you do decide to jump start it on the stove you can pour it into a warmed slow cooker to serve so it stays warm without tying up your burners. It’s also great to make before you go out sledding or skiing or other snow-sporting for the day, since you can then have a tasty warm drink waiting for you at home with minimal effort.

You’ll get pictures when I get to the store and buy the cider to make this with–while it is still pretty good using apple juice, it just isn’t quite the same, and I’d like to make it right. Besides, it isn’t all that pretty anyway, so really, don’t worry about what it looks like and just drink it already!

Wassail

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 5 3/4 cups pineapple juice (that is, 1 46 fluid oz can)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, about three inches long each
  • 1 TBS whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup honey

Directions:

1. ┬áCombine all ingredients in a slow cooker set on either low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6. Give it a good stir. Plug in and let heat until bubbling and the spiciness is to your taste (though we often start drinking it when it is good and hot and don’t bother fishing the spices out until someone says “hey, this is getting a bit strong, don’t you think?”).

1a. If you are using the stove, combine everything in a large pot, bring to a boil, then simmer it over low heat for a bit, again until you like the spiciness. You can then reduce the heat to very little just to keep it warm or move it to a slow cooker to keep warm.

2. Any leftover can be stored in a pitcher and isn’t half bad cold or reheated in the microwave. Yep, this is pretty much a one step recipe!