custom cakes/cookies

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Honeybush Tea Jelly

I sometimes contribute recipes to the blog of my friends' tea company, Arbor Teas. Recently, they were featured in the February edition of MetroParent Magazine. (Click through to see a picture of Jeremy, Aubrey, Arthur and Penelope.) Here is a kid-friendly recipe I created using one of their teas.

This one’s for the kids!

One of my favorite naturally non-caffeinated Arbor Teas is their organic Honeybush. Steeping the leaves, stems, and flowers of this plant indigenous to South Africa yields a sweet, light and woody infusion. It is enjoyable both hot and iced, and makes quite a pleasant transition beverage when you are ready to stop drinking caffeine for the day. Here honeybush is used to flavor a jelly. Its woody sweetness balances the tartness of the homemade apple pectin used to thicken the jelly. Really any loose leaf tea could be substituted in this recipe, but I chose honeybush for the kids! Honeybush tea jelly makes fantastic PB&J sandwiches. I’ve also combined the jelly with nuts and spices and stuffed the mixture into apple dumplings. Its sweet tart flavor is fairly versatile and broadly appealing to all sorts.

Honeybush Tea Jelly

6 tablespoons loose tea leaves
2¼ cups boiling water
3 cups green apple pectin stock (see recipe below)
¼ cups fresh lemon juice
3¼ cups sugar

Steep the tea leaves in the boiling water for 5 minutes, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a 6-8 quart pan. Add the pectin stock, lemon juice, and sugar to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the jelly registers 220 °F on a candy thermometer.

Ladle the jelly into sterilized canning jars and process for storage using whichever method you prefer best.

Green Apple Pectin Stock

3 pounds green apples (I used early transparent, one of the first apple varieties available at my farmer’s market in early fall. More readily, commercially available Granny Smith will work as well.)

Cut the apples into 8 sections. Discard the stems only. Peels, core, seeds and remaining fruit all contain valuable pectin. Place the apple sections in a 6-8 quart pan. Add 6 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the apples have broken down and the peels separate from the pulp. This should take 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent apples at the bottom of the pot from scorching.

Set a large mesh sieve over a deep bowl. Pour the cooked apples and juice into the sieve and let drain for at least half an hour, until you have about 5½ cups juice. Stir occasionally, to dislodge the pulp at the bottom of the sieve and allow proper draining, but do not press down too hard so as to push the pulp through the sieve.

Once strained, the pulp can be passed though a food mill to remove seeds and skins. This yields a very tart applesauce that can be eaten straight out of hand (sweetened and spiced at will) or incorporated into another recipe.

Bring the 5½ cups juice to a boil over high heat and cook until reduced to about 3 cups. This should take about 20 minutes. Refrigerate pectin stock, up to 2 weeks, until ready to use, or freeze for several months.

Holiday Spice Black Tea Red Pepper Relish

I sometimes contribute recipes to the blog of my friends' tea company, Arbor Teas. Here is a recipe I created over the winter holiday using one of their special seasonal teas.

Over the final few weeks of my CSA share last year, I built quite a collection of red peppers. Both hot varieties (Krimzon Lee, Serrano, Jalapeno, Shishito) and sweet bells (Apple Pimento, Carmen, Red Knight Bell) were filling up the crisper until enough accumulated to make this relish. Sweet with piquant heat and spiced just so with orange, cinnamon, and clove using Arbor Teas Organic Holiday Spice Black Tea, this ruby-toned relish makes a useful condiment to have on hand to dress up holiday meals or to gift away to friends this season. Use it to top cheese and crackers for a quick snack, mix with ketchup for a fancy chili dipping sauce, or dollop over your take-out ramen bowl to add a festive touch.

Holiday-Spice Red Pepper Relish
Makes 1½ pints

About 2 ½ pounds mixed types of red peppers (sweet and/or hot varieties)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups white vinegar
3 tablespoons Organic Holiday Spice Black Tea
3 cups sugar


Pulse red peppers in a food processor to finely chop. This should yield about 4 cups. Combine chopped peppers and salt in a large bowl. Set aside for 2 to 3 hours, until a considerable amount of liquid is drawn out of the peppers. Meanwhile combine the vinegar and the tea in a separate bowl and set aside at room temperature to steep for the duration of salting the peppers.

Place the peppers in a sieve to strain, pressing with the back of a spatula to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Transfer the peppers to a wide, 6-quart, heavy-bottomed pan and add the sugar. Place the sieve over the pan (to catch the loose tea) and pour in the steeped vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Cook until the pepper is translucent and the syrup is somewhat thick. Jelly-like consistency is achieved at 220° F. This may take 25-35 minutes of stirring. Temperatures higher than 220° F will yield a more resinous-like relish that will be difficult to spread, so be attentive to the thermometer throughout the boiling.

Ladle hot relish into clean jars and process for canning or store in the refrigerator for use within the next few months.