Mulling spices have traditionally been used to flavor hot seasonal drinks, primarily wine, spirits and beers. The combination of spices and citrus on a slow simmer over the stovetop not only warms the body, but also fills the air with captivating aromas. While there are many variations and spices that can be used to make these traditional bundles, I always opt for what I have on hand in the pantry, along with a mix of grapefruit and orange peel for the citrus component. Together with an aromatic bottle of 2016 Little Pioneer South East Australia Verdelho, these mulling spice jars make a perfect hostess gift for holiday gatherings this season.

Ingredients: ( makes enough for a 1 to 4 ounce jar)

  • Small jar or container
  • 8 thin peels from various citrus fruit (orange, grapefruit, lemon)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 2 tablespoons whole allspice
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 4 star anise pods

Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel the citrus, getting the thin skin only and less of the white pulp. This will retain the essential oils that will be released when heated. Place the citrus peels at the bottom of the jar.

Add the other dry ingredients on top of the citrus peels.

Cap the jars, and store them in a cool, dry space, like a pantry, until ready for use.

To use, heat 2 cups of water in a pot until simmering. Add 2 tablespoons of the spice and citrus mixture, and continue to heat over low.

Once the water starts to steam, it will fill the whole house with amazing, seasonal aromas. Continue to add water as it evaporates and the smell should linger for hours.

Looking for another way to enjoy the aromas and flavors? Here is an easy recipe for making your own mulled wine — great for sipping by the fire on a cool winter evening.