I'm so excited about my Christmas baskets for family, friends, teachers, and co-workers this year! They will be bursting with homemade goodness. I won't ruin all the surprises for everyone, but I decided to get to work today on the one that would keep the longest: chai tea concentrate.
I started making this last year based on a recipe from The Elliott Homestead. It has been a delicious way for all of us to drink more raw milk, as you end up diluting the concentrate 1:1 with milk or water. I wanted to be able to share the goodness with all my loved ones, but the recipe is perishable . . . But then I had the bright idea to process the jars and can the chai tea concentrate! Then it would be shelf-stable! The heavens opened and poured forth showers of happiness. Okay, it wasn't that big of a deal. But I was pretty pleased with myself. Like baby Todd when he scoots himself forward like a walrus.
Here's how I did it.
First, the chai recipe. I made a super-big batch, since I was going to can 20 pints of it. If you want a more reasonably sized batch to keep in your fridge, cut all these amounts by a third.
Chai Tea Concentrate
18 cinnamon sticks
60 allspice berries
15 cardamom pods
75 black peppercorns
2 T dried ginger
3/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1 C plus 2 T loose rooibos tea
3 T vanilla
3/4 C sugar (feel free to sub sucanat or honey)
Gather all your spices. Put the allspice, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns into a plastic bag and beat the smithereens out of it with a rolling pin.
It will look like this after you're done:
Take all your ingredients minus the vanilla and sugar, and mix with 18 cups water in a large stockpot. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Then, strain it all into a clean bowl.
While you're waiting for your tea to steep, it's a good time to sterilize your jars for canning. The thing that has always deterred me from canning before is the idea of a steam-bath in my kitchen. It just sounds unappetizing during the warmer months. Then, I discovered a new method: oven canning! Brilliant! Here's how you do it:
Turn your oven to 250. Place your jars, lids, bands, and equipment on sheet pans and place in the hot oven for at least 15 minutes.
Once they have sterilized for 15 minutes, remove from heat. By now you will have strained your chai concentrate. Using a sterilized cup or ladle and funnel, fill the jars with the concentrate, leaving about 1 inch of head space. Then put on the lids and bands. Put the filled and topped jars back into the 250 oven for at least 15 more minutes. Then pull them out and let them cool to room temperature. Check them and make sure they sealed once they are cool - try to indent the top of the jar. If it won't budge, it's good to go!
Since these are going into Christmas baskets, I went ahead and printed up tags with ingredients and instructions, and tied them on with some pretty ribbon. Yay! Last year I slacked on Christmas big-time. This year is going to be the year . . . I can just feel it!
Note: apparently oven canning is super-controversial. Old-old school canners (like your great grandmother) did it, but apparently the USDA says it's not safe to prevent botulism. I do some other stuff the USDA doesn't like, so maybe I'm not the best test subject. All that to say . . . enter at your own risk please! This recipe would be super-easy to do a standard hot-water bath canning,
[This post submitted to the Homestead Barn Hop 9/29/14 and Pennywise Platter 10/2/14.]