The Real Way to Make Historic Wassail

Here we come a wassailing among the leaves so green, Here we come a wandering so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you and to your wassail too

And God bless you and send you a happy New Year

And God send you a happy New Year.

Wassail falls into that category of 18th century foods that people have heard of, but never tried. For our new years celebration I made a batch! As it turns out, wassail is an acquired taste, most of the people who tried it like it, but don't go rushing back for a second cup. I on the other hand, have a new favorite winter beverage.

Traditionally wassail is a spiced beer, with apples and spices, one of many variations of warmed alcohol our forefathers enjoyed. Modern versions are closer to spiced apple cider than spiced beer. We just don't consume beer as regularly as they did in the 18th century. It used to be a regular drink, not limited to adults and happy hour, but good for everyone. Breweries were some of the first businesses established when colonization began. Immigrants were often advised to wean themselves off it slowly when coming to the colonies since the shock of going to straight water could make them ill.

Following is my favorite Wassail recipe, the one that I have been keeping in my beautiful narrow jug from J. Henderson

  • 2 pints and 1/4 cup English or brown ale
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 4 apples
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup good red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
In a large sauce pan, pour in 2 pints of ale. Add the cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and cloves and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Core & score the apples with a knife. Place in a baking dish. Pack one cup of brown sugar into the apple centers. Pour over all of the wine. Cover baking dish and place in oven, cooking for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
While apples are baking, place remaining sugar and spices into the sauce pan, ensuring it's well mixed.
When apples are done baking, place entire contents of baking dish into sauce pan. Allow to cook over a low heat for another 30-40 minutes.
Serve hot!