Monday, November 4, 2013

Earl Grey Jelly (and Jane Austen's Fight Club)

There's nothing better in the world than a good cup of tea. Well, there might be some things, but they're probably not appropriate for discussion here. But really, tea is so versatile. Dark and rich or light and fruity, exotic or plain ole' breakfast tea, I really feel like there's little in this world that can't be improved by a good cup of tea. I've run across several recipes for jams and jellies that incorporate tea, but at one point (I wish I could remember where), I found a recipe for just tea-infused jelly. Screw the fruit; there's tea! I finally got around to making this jelly, and it's like Fight Club meets Jane Austen, and they made jelly. It's that rad. 

I haven't tried this recipe with any other teas yet, but I think pretty much anything will work. I'm going to do green tea with honey instead of sugar next. So here's what you do: take two cups of filtered water and 9-12 teabags, depending on how strong you want it. Make sure you do something intelligent with the tea bag strings and tags so they don't set on fire dangling down the side of your pot.

Bring the water to a boil, and then let your tea bags steep in the water for thirty minutes. When it's done, discard the tea bags, measure your water, and make sure you still have two cups of liquid. Add more filtered water if needed.

Add in 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice (it's important you use bottled and that you use it all to make this jelly safe for canning) and 3T powdered pectin. Let the mix boil. Now, the recipe I jotted down on a napkin called for 3 cups of sugar. That sounds insane to me, but if you enjoy sugar shock, go for it. I used about     1 3/4 cup of sugar, stirred it in until it melted, and let it get to a hard boil and stay there for a minute (you have to let it get hot enough to reach the temp where pectin gels). Now, it can be a risk, messing with sugar in these recipes because the pectin and sugar react to one another to make the jelly set. So you have to use some. Taste it and see if it's sweet enough for you as you go. Keep a saucer in the freezer. When the mix has boiled for a minute, put a dab on the cold plate. If, after about 10-15 seconds, it gels up, you're good to go.

Make sure you've sterilized your jars in a boiling water bath and softened your lids (remember, you can only use the flat lid part ONCE to process a jar and make it shelf stable. Discard after one use). Pour into your jars, wipe the rims, lid them up, and process in a boiling water bath for five minutes. If you don't want to process in a water bath, just make the jelly and keep it in the fridge.

This recipe made 3 half pints with a tiny bit left over for me to snack on. And snack I did.

I'm not going to lie. This is totally a Popeye's biscuit. After having spent the afternoon drying herbs, pureeing pumpkin, and making jelly, I realized I'd eaten the last of my leftovers for breakfast and was way too tired to cook anything else. So I had a weak moment. Sue me. I'm kidding! I'm just feisty because this jelly is truly as cool as this video of the Jane Austen Fight Club. No lie.

**Remember, it's really important to do some research about canning if you want to produce jars you can keep in the pantry rather than in the fridge. Botulism is some serious nasty. I haven't provided a basic run-down of Canning 101 here because there are links to several good resources for this on my website page. PLEASE don't can ANYTHING until you've educated yourself.**