Living in Minnesota, I’m especially grateful for the defined change of seasons. The hunter orange and crimson red leaves crunching beneath your feet is a welcomed sound, and the crisp cool air in the morning a fresh reprieve from sultry summer heat. Apples and squash are perhaps my favorite seasonal ingredients, and they start to find their way into my everyday once the last tomato has been picked from the vine.
This year I was compelled to turn local SweeTango apples (a juicy cross between a Zestar and Honeycrisp) into a drink perfect for a night by the fireplace. A drink that’s warm and cozy with the addition of a homemade apple shrub, plus cinnamon tea brewed with ease using my KitchenAid® Electric Kettle. It’s superb stainless steel quality and ability to shut off automatically is so convenient!
I’m in love with its vintage design as well, which got me thinking about shrubs. Shrubs began as a way to preserve fruit in colonial days when lack of refrigeration required creativity to enjoy ripe fruit even during the cold winters. Berries, stonefruit, and apples were grated and mixed with vinegar and sugar, then left to sit and macerate. The end result was a sweet and tangy simple syrup. By the 1900’s it had become one of the most popular ways to flavor sodas, tonics and cocktails.
Over the last few years, they’ve crept onto upscale restaurant menus in the forms of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks with flair. They’re truly delicious, adding a layered complexity to whatever they’re mixed with.
This Hot Apple Cinnamon Shrub Tea is soul-warming, a funky rendition of tried and true apple cider. With the juicy, crisp flavor of autumn’s apples, the soft cinnamon spices, and subtle tartness from the cider vinegar, it’s the perfect way to enjoy a slow evening.
And complexity in flavor certainly doesn’t mean difficulty in making. Let’s walk through making this beautiful shrub, and finish with the delicious hot tea!
First, pick a great local apple that’s more sweet than tart. As I mentioned, I used SweetTango’s but honeycrisp, pink lady, or gala would also be great. Core the apples, then shred them with your food processor or box grater, whatever is easiest for you.
Then add the grated fruit to a glass jar, cover with sugar and apple cider vinegar, and let sit in your refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. This will draw the natural sugars and flavors out of the apple, letting it cold ferment with the vinegar.
After that you’ll strain the fruit and press all the juice you can out of it by squeezing with your hands. A little bit messy, but it works!
From there you can pour your apple shrub into a cute glass container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months, allowing you to make these hot drinks all winter long.
Heat up filtered water using your KitchenAid® Electric Kettle (which happens so quickly!), and pick out your favorite cinnamon tea. Add the tea bag to each mug you’ll be serving, and pour 6 ounces of hot water over the top. Let steep for 3 minutes, then remove tea bag and stir in about 2-3 tablespoons of apple shrub. Taste, and add more syrup if you would like it to be sweeter.
Stir with a cinnamon stick, and garnish with an apple slice. Happy fall, and enjoy the apple harvest with this cozy and delicious warmer-upper!
Hot Apple Cinnamon Shrub Tea
Makes 2 servings
1 1/4 cups grated SweeTango or Honeycrisp apples
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
For hot tea drink
12 ounces water
2 bags of cinnamon tea
4-6 tablespoons apple shrub
Add apples, sugar, and apple cider vinegar to a glass mason jar. Attach jar cover tightly and shake liberally. Refrigerate and let sit for 3-4 days.
Remove from refrigerator and strain juice into a large bowl, then squeeze remaining juice out of apples using a colander. Pour juice into a glass container and keep refrigerated.
When ready to make drink, boil water in your KitchenAid® Electric Kettle. Place one tea bag in each mug, then pour 6 ounces hot water over it. Let steep for 3 minutes, then remove bag and stir in 2-3 tablespoons of apple shrub per mug. Garnish with cinnamon stick and apple slice.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*