It all started when my son was in high school. Late one afternoon he told me that he needed some kind of traditional German food or drink to take for his German Club Christmas party- the next day! Being such short notice, and that we lived miles away from any grocery store, I took stock of what was on hand. What we had were wassail ingredients: plenty of grape and apple juices, plus holiday spices: cinnamon and cloves. I followed a pretty basic recipe that very first time; it was deemed a success by the Marion High School German Club and my family.
I wouldn’t have even known about wassail at that time, except for my on air position with Radio New Braunfels. Although I am of German descent, and I grew up in this area, I had not experienced wassail before being at the radio station and attending our local Wassailfest. I remember fun times at Wassailfest with my radio family, all of us bundled against the cold, laughing our heads off on the streets of downtown New Braunfels.
I have prepared wassail every holiday season since that initial hurried experiment, tweaking and improving it along the way. It has been fun introducing it to everyone from family and friends to former classmates from Smithson Valley High School. And I’m happy to share my recipe with you! Now this recipe is non-alcoholic, and be warned it veers off the traditional path a bit!
Tropical Twist Wassail
Note: all juices are all natural, no sugar added. I personally use all organic ingredients.
2 cups grape juice
1 half gallon apple cider
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cups pineapple juice
juice of 1 large, fresh lemon
2 or 3 long cinnamon sticks; or 4-5 smaller ones
8 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
1 1/2 inch slice or shaving of ginger root or 1 clump of crystallized ginger
1 whole orange or lemon for garnish
Pour all juices into a large pot or crockpot. The cinnamon sticks can go directly into the juice mix. Place the ginger root, allspice and cloves into an infusion basket (or cheesecloth pouch), and submerge in the juices. Warm over medium heat until fragrant and hot. Serve piping hot, garnish with a lemon or orange slice- or a peppermint stick for fun.
I like to leave the wassail simmering with the spices in it for at least an hour. The longer you can hold off serving, the more time the spices will have to do their thing. I must confess that I’m going to add a new ingredient to the recipe this year. While I was in Kauai recently I fell madly in love with their Lilikoi- what we call passion fruit. So this year I’ll use only 1 cup of either the cranberry or the orange juice (because the lilikoi is tart, too), add in 1 cup of passion fruit juice to the recipe above and see how that goes over.
I hope you enjoy making some wassail of your own- or just head to downtown New Braunfels on Thursday December 1st and sample many different varieties at the annual Wassailfest.