Continuing on our spice binge for fall, let’s talk about good and bad hot apple ciders. Most people seem to opt for instant, but how many ingredients can you even understand on the box? I’m taking the liberty of comparing not only the ingredients, but the amount of work involved in making three kinds of apple cider.
On the left is Mott’s instant Hot Spiced Cider in Red Delicious (as in the apple). Mott’s has a collection of instant hot spiced ciders, and each one is inspired by a different kind of apple – Red Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc. But the ultimate flavor, the one that used to be my favorite – was Hot Apple Pie. YUM. That was the first one of the collection to disappear. You can find these at Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Shoprite, and similar places.
In the center is a spiced cider mix you’d most likely find in country shops that sell handmade Christmas ornaments (I know we’re not up to that holiday yet!) and always have that lovely spiced candle scent. Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider Mix is actually a spice bag that you would steep in heated apple juice, so it’s not really an instant “mix” as it might sound.
On the right, last and far from least, is R.W. Knudsen’s Organic Mulling Spices. This is also a teabag of mulling spices you’d steep in hot apple juice.
So which would you pick? Well, of course the instant Mott’s would be easiest. Just add hot water and voila! But the other two aren’t much more difficult. Just heat up your favorite apple juice and steep. Picking one of these three based on how long they take to make isn’t the best way to go. Let’s check out the ingredients.
On the left is Mott’s instant hot cider. As you can see, there’s very little you can feel good about in there. It starts with sugar, which isn’t a great sign – usually that means the flavor relies on sweetness rather than…well…flavor. We actually don’t get to any kind of apple ingredient until we get to the 5th ingredient on the list! The apple puree powder (powder…ugh) is surrounded by artificial flavors and malic acid, not to mention the twice occurring maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, and caramel coloring among other things. I don’t even see any spices on the list of ingredients, which means the spice flavor is coming from the artificial flavors ingredient. Judging by the lack of real, clean ingredients, this is not something I would buy anymore.
On the right is Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider. Again, the ingredients start with sugar, which means that if your apple juice already has sugar, you are increasing that amount by 10g per serving. After the sugar, there are a bunch of real spices, which is great. The last ingredient, however, would keep me from drinking this: calcium silicate. What is calcium silicate? Well, for one, it’s used in a product called Pro Silicate, which is a solution used on plants to alter their pH level. I can’t say I want to put that into my body. The second thing to note is that it’s listed on the CDC’s site as something to watch out for because it targets your eyes, skin, and respiratory system. To me, that’s just frightening. There’s no way I’m ingesting something the CDC says you should immediately wash off your skin or eyes OR BREATHE FRESH AIR IF YOU’VE INHALED IT. Very frightening.
Finally, we’ve made it to something human body-friendly! All organic spices with not a single preservative. Whew! This is the only thing I trust when it comes to drinking apple cider. I get myself my favorite apple juice – 365 brand organic Honeycrisp apple juice (no preservatives, no sugar, just organic Honeycrisp apples) – heat it up and steep the spice bag in it. It taste SO good. You may feel like you’ve never tasted real apple cider until you have this. And believe me, once you have this, you won’t be able to drink Mott’s mix without tasting the sugar and the chemicals. At least that was my experience.
There you have it! In order of worst ingredients to best ingredients: Mott’s instant Hot Spiced Cider, Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider Mix, and, taking #1, R.W. Knudsen’s Organic Mulling Spices.
What is your favorite apple cider mix/mulling spice mix? What do you think of the ingredients we talked about?
Keep on living the wheat free life!