I have a confession. I’ve never really liked ice tea. There. I said it. There’s just something about it that has put me off for most of my life. Maybe because the stuff you buy at the store is full of sugar and chemicals? Even hot tea tends to be off putting for me…probably because I willingly put sugar in that and then immediately get heartburn. (My guts are jerks and hate sugar). However, with that all said, I can get behind some peppermint tea when the burn gets good, because as we all know, mint is good for those kinds of things.
So, if I hate tea, how did I end up making suntea and loving it? I’m so glad you asked.
Last year we grew mint in the garden and it gave us a bumper crop. I dried what was left when winter was upon us and figured I would do something with it at some point. Fast forward about a year, add a cool refreshing looking photo on instagram, and a lofty plan to kick my coffee habit (yeah, we’re still working on that), and I was digging jars out of the cupboard. I tossed 3 bags of humble Costco brand green tea in the jar with a handful of dried mint leaves, and let mama nature do her thing for the day. The result? Delicious. I’m getting the caffeine my body insists it needs and the mint is refreshing and makes my guts happy. Add a lemon slice or two to your glass and now you’ve got a swanky, pinkies up kinda drink that I can get behind.
I have managed to replace my late morning/afternoon/anytime really coffee with the tea and it’s been great. Now we just need to get rid of that full pot of the brown stuff early in the morning….
Friends of ours introduced us to their homemade hard apple cider last year and we thought it was one of the greatest things ever and just had to give it a try. This coincided perfectly with a use for the home brew equipment I had gotten my husband for his birthday 2 years ago that was patiently waiting for use in the closet. It is such an easy (and cheap!) process that we’re kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner.
- Make sure your carboy is totally sanitized, as well as any equipment that comes in contact with your product or process.
- Add 5 gallons of apple juice. Just juice. No preservatives or additions. If the ingredients say anything other than ‘apple’ pass it by. ($16-$18 for all 5 gallons at Costco)
- We add 4 1/2 pounds of sugar to our brew (the more sugar, the dryer it will be, but also a higher alcohol content) in the carboy ($11 for a bag or organic cane sugar – at Costco)
- Add your yeast (ask your local brew person what they suggest and experiment. Avoid champagne yeast unless you like cider so dry your mouth implodes) ($8)
- Cap your carboy with your air-lock and set aside in closet, or space away from sunlight
The second or third day of the brew are lovingly referred to as “Egg Fart Days” in our house as the brew will give off a very strong sulfur odor. You aren’t doing anything wrong – it’s just the yeast having a pep rally and getting ready to feast on some sugar. You will notice that your air lock will also be bubbling like crazy during this time – feel free to cheer it on! I find it makes for better brew.
Your cider is done brewing when the time between bubbles in your air lock is at least a full minute. If you pull it too early your brew will be “green” and not good. Read: you might as well drink it on the toilet and cancel your plans to leave the house for the next few days. This first stage can take over a month for your first brew on a new batch of yeast, but will speed up as you reuse the yeast cake (up to 7 times) to 2 weeks or so.
At this stage siphon your brew to another sterilized container where you can choose to recap with another air lock, or bottle. We are more than happy to drink ‘flat’ cider so we skip the bottling process and keep it in a different carboy, pouring into a pitcher to refrigerate before consuming. So with a brand new brew in hand, we start the process all over again (minus the yeast because the cake is still in your equipment) by adding juice and sugar. Cap, replace in the closet and wait for the Egg Fart Days to be over. Feel free to discuss how you are about to get approximately 5 gallons of high octane cider for a less than $30 investment – that’s always pretty cool.
(porter on the left, cider on the right)
I drink a lot of coffee. Which is funny because I hated the stuff (even the smell) until I worked in a coffee shop in college. Now I am a hopeless addict who needs her fix rather regularly (My name is Annie and I’m very ok with admitting that). But when it gets really hot in the summer (hey, 70* is hot to some people!) I prefer iced coffee. Thanks to a pinterest post which lead me to a blog post by the Pioneer Woman I brewed up my first batch a few weeks ago, and the second last night.
Start with a 7 Liter food safe container like those found in restaurant supply stores, and add 3/4 – 1 lb of ground coffee to the container. The more coffee, the stronger the end result…Fill with water to the top of your container and stir to make sure all the grounds have participated in the bathing process. Cover and wait (or go do something else – I recommend that) for 8 or so hours.
After my brew of love has been sitting for the appointed time, I grab my trusty strainer and throw a coffee filter into in, then perch it atop a large pitcher (also from the restaurant supply store) and slowly add my coffee/water mixture to strain, cup by cup. The batch makes enough to fill a growler to be left in the fridge (it lasts longer when sealed) and the large pitcher to pour from as I need (NEED!).
Add ice and whatever special additions your addiction needs (a little milk and some sugar free vanilla syrup, please and thank you) and enjoy! This prep saves a ridiculous amount of money in the long run and it makes my wallet and husband happy.