Summer time is here. As a geek, that means copious consumption of two things – books and alcohol. Our own Silvia Sellerio went on a quest to efficiently combine the two by recreating Nanny Ogg’s Scumble from Terry Pratchett’s epic Discworld series. While I can’t vouch that it’ll dissolve a nail, I can say it’s deceptively strong and does indeed taste, “Mostly of apples. Mostly.”
Nanny Ogg’s Scumble
by Silvia Sellerio
1 bottle (0,198 US gallons, or 750 ml) grain alcohol, 95° proof
1/2 gallon (or 2 l.) dry cider
1/2 gallon (or 2 l.) green apple juice*
1 cup green apple cocktail preparation*
1 cup vodka*
1 cup light brown sugar*
14 sticks of cinnamon (if using pint jars for canning – more if using
1 tonka bean
1 pinch of nutmeg
Chunks of dried apple (optional)
Canning jars and sterilized bottles
Cheesecloth of coffee filters
* As scumble is similar to applejack or apple pie moonshine, I researched copycat recipes for those as my starting point. Most of them recommend unsweetened apple juice, but then all of them use much more sugar than I did.
I could only find sweetened green apple juice, and had the green apple cocktail preparation that is very syrupy and sweet; if you can’t find the latter, simply add more sugar to your taste, up to 2 1/2 cups total. Be mindful, though, that the “aged” drink will taste sweeter than it feels when just mixed. Also I used plain vodka, but you could surely use green apple-flavored. If you do, maybe substitute green apple juice with regular apple juice… unlike you really like the tartness of green apples, that is!
In a large pot, heat the cider, juice, sugar, cocktail preparation (if using), cloves, 6 of the cinnamon sticks, and a little pinch of nutmeg. Smash the tonka bean and throw it in as well. Keep stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
As soon as the mixture starts to boil, revove it from heat, cover the pot, and leave it overnight so it cools down perfectly.
Stir the alcohol and vodka into the cold mixture.
Discard the soaked spices. Pour your homemade scumble into sterilized jars (1 pint mason jars are ideal, but use what you have on hand!) Into each jar, put a fresh cinnamon stick and, optionally, a chunk of dried apple.
Leave the jars to age in a dark, cool place for minimum two weeks, and one month if you can resist the temptation. Your ripened scumble will taste sweeter and actually less potent, but it’ll turn as yummy as an Apfelstrudel filling, and still pack quite a punch!
Discard the cinnamon sticks and bottle your scumble, using layers of cheesecloth (or coffee filters) to filter out the sediment. If you put dried apple chunks inside the jars, they’ll by now have plumped up nicely, and will make for a delightful boozy treat!
The bottles are best kept in the fridge, and must be refrigerated when opened.
You can sip scumble cold or room temperature, or even warm it up for the full sinus-clearing experience!