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How To Observe Wassail!*

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‘Wassail!’ is the old salutation uttered when drinking a person’s health, and also refers to the liquor in which such healths were drunk, especially ale with roasted apples, sugar and nutmeg. This simple recipe was traditionally prepared to toast the apple trees on 5th January (or on Twelfth Night) to ensure a bumper harvest in the coming year.
What you'll need: 
6 cooking apples
Lump sugar and soft brown sugar
1/2 oz ground ginger
1/2 grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cinnamon
8 oz Demerara sugar
3 pints mild or brown ale
½ bottle of raisin wine
¼ bottle of sherry
1 lemon
Core the apples but do not peel them. Fill the holes with soft brown sugar and roast in a moderate oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Take care they do not burst.
Mix in a saucepan the ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and demerara sugar. Add 1 pint of the ale and bring to the boil. Stir in the rest of the ale, the wine and 10 lumps of sugar that have been rubbed on the rind of the lemon.
Heat the mixture but do not allow it to boil this time.
Put the roasted apples in a large punch bowl and pour in the hot ale mixture with half the peeled and sliced lemon.
Apple trees were offered libations of cider to encourage fruitfulness in the orchards during the coming year, and pieces of bread soaked in cider were placed in the crooks of the trees. Guns were fired to frighten away any evil spirits — but in the post-gun law days, it can be just as effective to use Chinese crackers if you want to observe the old festival in the traditional way.


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