A certain well-known Swedish retailer used to hand out samples of glögg – a sort of mulled wine – to customers over the Christmas holiday period.
Sadly, this heart-warming custom has gone by the board and nowadays you have to buy your glögg in bottles from the company’s food shop. It lacks the charm of a freebie, so I’ve learnt to make my own.
To launch the new year in festive style (and end this mini-series on nordic cooking), I made a glögg in which beer replaces the more usual red wine. I found the recipe on Cecilia’s blog, which anyone with a sweet tooth will enjoy browsing: Cecilia’s cupcake photos are so gorgeous as to be almost indecent (scroll down through the Swedish version of the recipes for English translations).
This recipe calls for low-alcohol beer. I used a French brand called Buckler, which is marketed (quite legally) as "alcohol-free" but actually contains about 0.9%. A similar brand, Tourtel, contains 0.4%. In any case, fermentation nudges the glögg’s alcohol content closer to that of a wine, and you can always boil some off before serving.
For about 5 litres of glögg (7 x 75cl bottles)
6 litres of low-alcohol beer
400g potatoes, finely sliced
60g instant dried yeast
25g cardamom pods
5cm ginger root, crushed
4 cinnamon sticks
250g dried apricots
2.5kg white cane sugar
The peel of a large orange
Put all the ingredients into a large, food-grade container, such as a brewing bucket, and stir well.
Place a lid on the container, leaving it slightly ajar, or cover with cling film (make several holes in the cling film to let out escaping carbon dioxide). After three days, the sugar and yeast will have joined forces to boost the alcohol content and the mixture will be bubbling away merrily.
Once the bubbles have subsided, leave the glögg to macerate at room temperature for three to six weeks before filtering and bottling it in beer or sparkling wine bottles. This is essential because of the slight risk that the glögg may continue to ferment inside the bottles (thanks to Seth for pointing this out – see the third comment below).
Just before serving, heat some glögg gently in a saucepan and pour into small heatproof glasses. Put a few hazelnuts, raisins and/or slivered almonds into each glass. The glögg is sweet, aromatic, comforting, and more or less alcoholic depending on whether you serve it as soon as it comes to a simmer or leave it to bubble for a few minutes.
Share it with family and friends, give a bottle as a present… or keep it until the next time you have something to celebrate.
I wish you all a wonderful 2011. May serenity provide a backdrop to good food and whatever else makes you feel joyful.