Crazy Easy Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

French Press Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Mmmmm…

This is so simple I almost feel guilty devoting a post to it. But when I was searching for a guide on making iced coffee in a French press, I came up empty handed and had to wing it. So I’m taking the guess work out of it for you – yes, you can make amazing cold-brewed iced coffee in a French press, and yes it is ridiculously easy!

1/2 - 1 C ground coffee

1/2 – 1 C ground coffee

My inspiration came from The Pioneer Woman’s  “Perfect Iced Coffee” post (it’s great, go check it out, I’ll wait). All last summer I followed her instructions (on a slightly smaller scale) and drank iced deliciousness. But with summer rolling around this year, I couldn’t bring myself to go through the hassle anymore (the process involved multiple strainings and containers). That, coupled with the return of my French press to my kitchen, got me wondering why I couldn’t just make the stuff in that. Turns out it works!

Mixed with water

Mixed with water

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-1 C coffee grounds, course is best
  • Water
  • Whatever you like in your iced coffee

Directions:

Measure 1/2 to 1 cup of coffee grounds (depending on type of coffee and your strength preferences) and dump into the French press. Pour in the water. I find it helpful to start with a little and mix, and then add the rest – it helps to avoid air pockets. Mix it well. Put the lid on and let it sit overnight. The next morning (or some 8 or so hours later, timing’s not too important), plunge the press down slowly until it is fully pressed. Pour the coffee concentrate (this is what we’re calling it now) into a container for storage. To serve, pour over ice and add whatever you’d like to it. I usually just use whole milk and a little stevia extract, but it is really amazing with sweetened condensed milk. Use whatever you want.

Over ice

Over ice

That’s really all there is to it. And it’s really really good.

Jamming

Apricot, Cherry, Vanilla Bourbon Peach

I recently went back home to Michigan to spend a week with my long-time friend and her family. One of the great things about Michigan in the summertime is the abundance of local fruit. And, at least compared to D.C. prices, that fruit is SUPER cheap!

I carted bushels of cherries, blueberries, apricots and peaches back with me to the city, and had to quickly find things to do with it all. I decided on a marathon jam session, and roped my cousin Ben in to help me. It was pretty easy, as he had no idea how much work would be involved – I bribed him with dinner (and jam!).

We settled on tart cherry, apricot, vanilla bourbon peach, and blueberry sauce (for Ben, we had accidentally made it before and he really wanted more). I sent him to the store for bourbon, vanilla beans, and pectin, and we were off!

My pectin is Pomona’s – it’s super flexible and you can use as much or as little sugar as you’d like. Plus, one box is enough for a few batches of jam. It’s kind of difficult to find around here, but I was able to locate it at the MOM’s Organic Market in Alexandria.

Pomona’s Pectin

The cherry and apricot recipes came directly from the box directions. The vanilla bourbon peach was one I had pinned a while ago.

You can see the cherries suspended in the jam

Tart Cherry Jam

Ingredients:

  • 4 C. Tart cherries, pitted and slightly mashed
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 2 t. Pomona’s Pectin
  • 2 t. Calcium Water (from Pectin package)
  • Canning Jars

Directions:

  • Sterilize jars and rings (I ran them through the dishwasher on the hottest setting). Let lids sit in very hot water while preparing fruit.
  • Combine fruit and calcium water in a pot. Bring to a boil.
  • Mix sugar and pectin in a separate bowl. Add to boiling fruit mixture.
  • Boil mixture and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour into jars, top with lids according to manufacturers directions, and process in boiling water bath for ten minutes.
  • Remove from water bath and allow to cool. The jars should seal (and pop). If any don’t seal, store them in the refrigerator and eat within a few weeks.

Smooth Apricot Jam

Apricot Jam

Ingredients:

  • 4 C. Apricots, pitted and slightly mashed
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1/4 C. Lemon Juice
  • 2 t. Pomona’s Pectin
  • 2 t. Calcium Water (from Pectin package)
  • Canning Jars

Directions:

  • Sterilize jars and rings (I ran them through the dishwasher on the hottest setting). Let lids sit in very hot water while preparing fruit.
  • Combine fruit, lemon juice and calcium water in a pot. Bring to a boil.
  • Mix sugar and pectin in a separate bowl. Add to boiling fruit mixture.
  • Boil mixture and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes.
  • Blend with an immersion blender (or in a regular blender) until it is your desired consistency. Ours was very smooth (Ben really likes the blender).
  • Pour into jars, top with lids according to manufacturers directions, and process in boiling water bath for ten minutes.
  • Remove from water bath and allow to cool. The jars should seal (and pop). If any don’t seal, store them in the refrigerator and eat within a few weeks.
Bourbon Vanilla Peach Jam

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam – note the vanilla bean visible in the jar!

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam
Adapted from Blondie’s Cakes & Things

Ingredients:

  • 6 lbs. Peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 4 C. Sugar
  • 6 T. Lime Juice
  • 1 Vanilla bean, split in half and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 T. Bourbon
  • 1.5 t. Almond extract
  • 4 t. Pomona’s Pectin
  • 4 t. Calcium Water (from Pectin package)
  • Canning Jars

Directions:

  • Sterilize jars and rings (I ran them through the dishwasher on the hottest setting). Let lids sit in very hot water while preparing fruit.
  • Mix sugar and pectin in a bowl.
  • Combine peaches, sugar/pectin mixture, lime juice and calcium water in a pot. Smash with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender.
  • Add the vanilla beans and bring to a boil. Boil mixture and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add the bourbon and almond extract.
  • Pour into jars, top with lids according to manufacturers directions, and process in boiling water bath for ten minutes.
  • Remove from water bath and allow to cool. The jars should seal (and pop). If any don’t seal, store them in the refrigerator and eat within a few weeks.
Blueberry Sauce

See the floating blueberries?

Blueberry Sauce

This uses less pectin, and results in more of a liquid sauce, which is great on pancakes/waffles/ice cream/oatmeal/etc.

Ingredients:

  • 4 C. Blueberries, smashed
  • 2 C. Sugar
  • 1/4 C. Lemon Juice
  • 1 t. Pomona’s Pectin
  • 1 t. Calcium Water (from Pectin package)
  • Canning Jars
  • Sterilize jars and rings (I ran them through the dishwasher on the hottest setting). Let lids sit in very hot water while preparing fruit.
  • Combine fruit, lemon juice and calcium water in a pot. Bring to a boil.
  • Mix sugar and pectin in a separate bowl. Add to boiling fruit mixture.
  • Boil mixture and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes.
  • Blend with an immersion blender (or in a regular blender) until it is your desired consistency. Ours was very smooth (Ben really likes the blender).
  • Pour into jars, top with lids according to manufacturers directions, and process in boiling water bath for ten minutes.
  • Remove from water bath and allow to cool. The jars should seal (and pop). If any don’t seal, store them in the refrigerator and eat within a few weeks.

Our hands-down favorite was the Vanilla Bourbon Peach. Also, my neighbors now think I’m somewhat crazy – after spotting me taking pictures of jam nestled in our flower boxes…

Summer Watermelon Sorbet – with a Hint of Mint

Watermelon Sorbet - Ready to eat!

I’ve had a watermelon languishing in the refrigerator for, well, too long. When I cut into it, I noticed that its texture was somewhat mushy. On further inspection, the flavor was still good, but it had lost that “crunchy” feeling. I also just *happened* to have the ice cream bowl chilling in the freezer.

So what to do?

Sorbet!

Pureed and ready to go

Pureed and ready to go

I’ve made watermelon sorbet a few times in the past, and it’s one of my favorite summer snacks. I used a few recipes to get started, and have tweaked it to my taste. This version included mint, peach schnapps, and stevia (instead of sugar).

Make too much? Drink the rest!

Make too much? Drink the rest!

One of the big issues when making sorbet is texture. And, in typical recipes, the sugar helps to create the smooth texture. I’ve omitted sugar here, because I really don’t need any extra, and so this will freeze harder than what you may be used to. It is important to add in a little alcohol to help lower the freezing point an keep from getting too solid. I typically use vodka as it’s more taste-neutral, but I ran out. The schnapps made for an interesting, only slightly peachy, flavor. I’ve also used Cachaça, and wouldn’t recommend it.

Watermelon Mint Sorbet

  • Seedless watermelon chunks (equivalent to approximately 4 blended cups, about 1/2 a watermelon)
  • 2 sprigs mint (optional)
  • Juice from one lime (or to taste)
  • 1 oz. Liquor (vodka is the most neutral, but feel free to experiment)
  • 1 dropper liquid stevia (to taste)
  • Ice cream maker, chilled

Put all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until cool, or use a pre-refrigerated watermelon. Start ice cream maker and pour mixture into reservoir. Process according to your machine’s manual. My Cuisinart requires about 20 minutes run-time. Eat right away and freeze any remainder. Defrost a few minutes before serving from the freezer to soften.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

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