Monday, November 9, 2009

Earl Grey Tea Jelly

I had been thinking of the book, Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber, for a while now, and the other day I checked to see if our library system had it, and they did! It came pretty quickly, and it's now temporarily mine for the next three weeks. And who knows, I may renew it!! (Those exclamation points are tongue in cheek, and self-chiding, because I really am that excited.) That said, I found her book to be fascinating, and so very Alsatian. The French passion and the exacting German are both there. I love how it leaves so much for you to figure out. So subtle, it might be construed as maddening. Like, when it calls for green apples, does it mean unripe apples? And I assume she never processes them, because she doesn't say she does. But is that okay? No matter, I love a mystery. It only makes the journey more exciting and more your own.

A recipe for Apple Jelly with Ceylon Strong Breakfast Tea caught my eye right away. It was inspiring and thrilling to think I could make jelly with tea. It opened up a whole world of new flavors to experiment with. I used Earl Grey because I think bergamot is heavenly. Stayman Winesap and MacIntosh were my apples. My patience payed off, as the jelly came out perfect and crystal clear. It still needs time to set, so I haven't had it yet, but when it was hot and I licked a few spoons clean (part of the job, ma'am) it was delicate, subtle--the tea leaves and bergamot coming out ever so gently.

Earl Grey Tea Jelly

3 1/4 pounds of apples, the tarter and fresher the better, Granny Smiths are good if you are not living in the land and season of great apples.
6 cups of water plus 7 ounces
4 cups of sugar
2 Tbsp. of lemon juice
4 bags of Earl Grey tea

Chop apples into quarters and place in a good, heavy pot with the 6 cups of water. Once it boils, let it simmer on low for a half hour until the apples are quite soft. Then filter the juice through a sieve with a fine mesh, a chinois if you will, pressing lightly on the fruit. I like to leave this for a few hours to take its time. Then filter a second time through cheesecloth; it's best to do this overnight in the fridge. I used coffee filters in a mesh colander and it worked fine.

Measure 4 1/4 cups of the juice leaving sediment at the bottom. Add this and the sugar and lemon juice in to your good pot and bring to a boil. Now, about jelly, you know, it's not just jam. It's a little fussier, so keep an eye on it. I highly recommend a candy thermometer because testing for the jelling point is difficult. You want to bring the heat up to 220 degrees. Skim it good; it's not like jam where the foam sometimes disappears. It's persistent foam! While you are fretting over the jelling point, make the tea infusion with 7 ounces of boiling water and let steep for three minutes. Don't over steep because it will be bitter. I waited until the temperature was 219, added the tea, and then returned it to 220, which took more time than I thought--the seven ounces really does change the temperature--and then it's jellytime!

Pour the hot liquid into your hot jars, that just happened to be in the boiling water that you had waiting for processing. Seal them and process for ten minutes. (By process, I mean let them sit in boiling water for ten minutes.)

P.S. A word about canning safety: Ferber didn't process her jars. I did. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily safe from bacterial bugaboos. Technically, you should check all of your recipes with some tester, but I'm somewhere between French laissez-faire and American Puritanism, and generally I just feel my way around. Just so you know.

13 comments:

  1. If anyone has any interest, I would gladly write down the recipe. I'll get it up soon-ish, but baby woke up and I had to dash!

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  2. Hi Julia! Earl Grey is my fave tea and I would never have thought of making it into a jelly! JELLY! Yum ... Bergamot, as you rightly said, is heavenly. This jelly must taste outta this world :)

    Cheers
    Ju

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  3. Hi Ju! Thank you for coming by--I feel blessed. That's how I feel: JELLY! Capitals and exclamation point. Glad you feel the same way!

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  4. At last I have a phrase for my approach to canning: "French laissez-faire." (I don't process in hot water bath, I use the newer method of heating jars before filling, flipping when filled for 5 minutes, and flipping back.) And a recipe for a jam that will let me once again share a "cup of Earl Grey" with my mother, the way we used to, before we lived several states apart. :)

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  5. Perplexity Peccable - Ha ha! Yes, I've done that many times, so easy! And how sweet, to share some tea with your mother via jelly or jam. Enjoy!

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  6. Great sounding recipe! I'm going to try it, but do you know the the ending quantity is?
    thanks

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  7. Hi Julia Finished making the jelly last night around 11PM. It has not been 12 hrs and I know some jellies take up to 48 hrs to set. How soon did your's set? The jelly looks beautiful, but very liquid - not even like syrup. Thanks, Rosalie

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  8. Hi Rosalie! Was that you asking about quantities? I think I answered you on Facebook, right? Anyway, the yield is about 4 half-pints.

    But as for your question: the set will sometimes take up to two weeks! But it is possible that you will not get a set. I can't tell you how many jellies have turned into syrups for me. : ( But the syrups or a loose jelly, even a thin syrup!, will still taste delicious! It would probably be great to sweeten a cup of earl grey tea. : )

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  9. Thanks for answering. I don't do Facebook and no, I wasn't the one that asked about quantity. I got 5 1/2-pints with 5 cups of juice left over, to use for . . . I'm going to wait until tomorrow and if there is no jell I will reprocess and add 1 T of pectin. I'm sure this would taste good in Earl Grey and also in a margarita or made into a sorbet - but I just want jelly! Rosalie

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  10. Hi! How does the liquid solidify without the use of gelatin? thanks

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    1. Hi Midsummer-nite, sorry to get back to you so late. Apples have a natural abundance of pectin in them, and when sugar and some acid (in this case lemon) are added, and heat up to 220 degrees F is applied, a jelly forms. If you would like to use pectin or gelatin, you might want to find a different recipe. Best of luck!

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    2. Hi Julia, thanks for this. I found the best crabapple jelly, not really a jelly but hey, in a farmers market many, many miles away, it was very tart and bitter, my crabapples are nowhere near ready for a crop so I wondered as I sipped on my morning tea how I'd get that tartness and bitterness together. Bang, tea, but what a crazy idea. Tea jell? so here I am a quick google and you've laid the way. I make or rather used to make kombucha which has some wonderful bitter and sharp tones. Peach tea works fantastically. I used to get it from Whittard's. Well, off to the shops to buy some tart bramlies. Thanks for this.

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    3. Glad I could be of assistance! Lucky you with your own tree. You'll have some of your own tea jelly soon enough!

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