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Warm mulled wine is not to be missed at Christmas time, and while it can be bought pre-mixed in bottles, infusing your own is just as easy to do using a mixture of citrus and spice. Sour oranges, cranberries and other seasonal produce like apples are all common components found in most recipes, though several top chefs have revealed that it’s not just whole fruits that can be used. They explained that this festive drink is a “great way to use up ingredients that otherwise get discarded”, whether it be old oranges and grapefruits or overripe lemons and pears.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, low-waste, planet-friendly chef, Lisa Marley said: “Making your own mulled wine recipe is a great way to use up ingredients that otherwise get discarded. Sell-by and use-by dates have a place but with fruit and vegetables, it’s usually pretty obvious if it’s still good to use.
“Using out-of-date fruit is perfectly safe if you use a bit of common sense. For example, a bad-smelling, rotting apple is probably only fit for composting but if it’s showing no sign of disintegration, it’s more than likely safe to eat.”
When it comes to choosing the fruit for your homemade mulled wine, Celebrity chef, Tristan Welch (@chef_tristan_welch on TikTok), recommended utilising every part of flavoursome fruits like apples, grapefruits, lemons, pears and oranges, adding that the best thing to do is “keep all your peelings”.
Whether it be a half-grated orange or wrapped-up lemon, as long as there is no mould, “it can all go in”.
According to Lucy Hitchcock, founder of Partner In Wine, one of the other benefits of making no-waste mulled wine is being able to use a mixture of leftover alcohol.
She told Express.co.uk: “You are looking for reasonable quality wine, but we don’t want to ‘waste’ the good stuff. I imagine you’ll have some hiding in the back of the cupboard – the best bets would be a Côtes du Rhone, Merlot or Rioja, but if we’re really looking to use what we have, grab the bottle from the back of the cupboard.
“It doesn’t even all need to come from the same bottle – If you’ve got a glass left over from the weekend here, and half a bottle left over from a spag bowl recipe there, grab what you have, once you’ve added the fruit, spices and spirits, it’ll all come together nicely.”
When it comes to spices, Lucy recommended looking no further than the back of your spice rack before going shopping for new ingredients. Cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, bay leaves and vanilla pods are ideal, though ginger is also worth adding if you have some fresh stem left over.
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Quantities are important when making mulled wine to avoid overpowering the drink with certain flavours. Tristan’s exclusive recipe makes enough for eight people and takes just 15 minutes.
- 200g dark brown sugar.
- One and a half litres of wine or cider
- Splash of water
- Fruit peelings
- 140ml brandy or vodka
- Four whole cloves
- Two cinnamon sticks (broken in half)
- Four allspice berries
Start by bringing the sugar and water to a boil in a large saucepan to form a nice caramel consistency.
Add in the spices and citrus peel, including ginger and even apple cores for “a little extra fruitiness”.
Tristan said: “Add half of whatever alcohol you like – red wine is traditional but white wine is also very cool and works really well. I personally prefer cider as mulled cider is really delicious.”
Pour half of the alcohol into the caramel mixture and simmer gently for around 10 minutes.
The celebrity chef added: “The secret is to add the rest of the wine/cider just before serving, bring it up to temperature and then serve immediately – that will help it keep the characteristics of the alcohol.”
For an extra kick, add a dash of brandy or vodka, grate in some orange, lemon or grapefruit zest and add a few berries, cinnamon sticks or even raisins and nuts to the mixture.
Lisa suggested adding out-of-date raisins or mixed peel to the mixture if you have some to use up, and you can also swap brandy for rum.
Serve with the whole fruits in the mixture or strain using a cheesecloth or sieve to separate the liquid.
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