In this week’s By Thistle, By Thimble story "The Lambswool Blessing", journeyman fruit growers flock to Mr. Dorsett’s orchard to learn the secret of his abundant apple crop. No one finds anything unusual, but, unbeknownst to them, Mr. Dorsett performs a secret blessing on a special winter’s night—a blessing that was taught to him long ago by an apple tree elf, who resides in the orchard still.
Blessing apple trees on Twelfth Night is an old custom. Traditionally, revelers would make cups of wassail or lambswool—spiced cider or ale—and cover them with a bit of toast to keep the drink warm. A slosh of the wassail would then be poured on the apple trees to bless them for the coming year Bits of the cider soaked toast would be left for the birds.
If you, too, are grateful for a beautiful apple harvest this year, why not make up a pot of wassail for your family?
The recipe below is enough to serve a party of revelers, but it can easily be halved or quartered. It’s also much more method than recipe, so feel free to modify it to suit your tastes or what you have on hand.
While wassail was traditionally an alcoholic beverage, I recommend making this without so that the kiddos can enjoy too. It’s easy enough for the grown-ups to add a bit of bourbon or ale to their own individual cups.
Twelfth Night Wassail
16 cups (1 gallon) apple cider
4 cups orange or cranberry juice
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup honey
8 cinnamon sticks
2 Tablespoons whole cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cardamon
Mix all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Heat gently, stirring occasionally. Don’t allow the wassail to boil. Ladle into cups, and garnish with slices of apple.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.