One of every seven apples in the world is grown in Shaanxi province, and this is their season
. They’re not as flavourful as other varieties and thus wouldn't make the best apple pie
, but you can persuade them to release all the sugar they’re hiding by cooking them down into a warm brew mulled with locally available spices. Just add a slug of bourbon for an autumn-ready drink that makes for a comforting, zesty alternative to your typical hot toddy or brewed cider
10 Shaanxi apples
A dozen whole cloves
A dozen Sichuan peppercorns A few Chinese cinnamon sticks
3 whole star anise
2 slices of orange rind
2-2.5 litres of water
Bourbon or whisky of choice
1. Cut the apples into thick slices. Add them to a large pot with about 2-2.5 litres of water. Add in the spices and the orange rind.
2. Boil the mixture for 30 minutes uncovered, then cover and let simmer over low heat for at least two hours, stirring occasionally and mashing the apples as they soften.
3. Remove from heat; allow the mixture to cool completely.
4. Pour the contents of the pot through a fine strainer or cheesecloth. The juice should be cloudy, but not pulpy.
5. To serve, reheat and spike with a shot of bourbon or whisky. Garnish with a cinnamon stick if you’re feeling fancy.