Sunday, June 30, 2013

Iced coffee..........

One of my favorite treats of summer is a homemade iced coffee. I pretty much follow the Pioneer Woman's recipe here with a few tweaks.

First off, I use two big bowls or, as I did yesterday, two of my biggest stock pots (you know, the kind you whip up a big ole batch of soup in). Divide a bag of ground coffee (any kind, you choose - this time around I used a decaf vanilla hazelnut and it's sooo good!) into the two containers, relatively evenly (don't stress about it being perfect). Cover with cold water - you can use Pioneer Woman's ratio in the link or just fill the pan most of the way with cold water. Stir well to get it all mixed up. Then, just leave it overnight.

The next day, you start the straining process. This takes a bit of time and is a labor of love, but it's SO worth it. I used a big gallon-sized cheap plastic pitcher I have lying around and a fine mesh strainer. Instead of cheesecloth, a la PW, I use plain old paper towels. They are cheap and easy and I don't usually have cheesecloth lying around. However, the first time I made this, I DID buy cheesecloth and the results were not as good as using paper towels (some grounds got through!). I start by stirring it all up (the grounds will have settled on the bottom), then scooping up the cold-brewed coffee with a 2-cup glass Pyrex measuring pitcher and pouring it through a paper towel-lined mesh strainer. I can usually get about 4 cups through one paper towel before it becomes too laden with grounds. I just gather it up, push it down to squeeze out all the liquid, and then toss it, lining the mesh strainer with a clean paper towel. Repeat until all the liquid is collected.

When it gets down to the "dregs" I usually just tip the whole pan into the strainer, stopping just before the really thick grounds go in. Warning - if you use the whole bag of coffee, as I did, you will end up with about 3 1/2 to 4 gallons of cold-brewed coffee so make sure you have enough containers to store it in! You may not want to make a whole bag at once, but in our family, we all like this treat, so we can get through it before it goes bad. It does keep for weeks in the fridge - as PW said - about 3 weeks to a month.

Once you've collected all the cold-brewed coffee, you're ready to make your treat! Fill a glass with ice (we like to use "cold cups" from Starbucks or elsewhere - the kind with a lid and a sturdy plastic straw). Fill your glass about 3/4 full (or a little more) with cold coffee. Add about 3 tsp sugar (or artificial sweetener, or syrups of your choice to taste), and then fill the rest of the way with half 'n' half (you can go anywhere from a splash to 1/4 cup depending on how much you like it). I've also done this with regular old milk when I'm out of half 'n' half and it's still delicious. You can also cut the calories this way! Stir and enjoy. It's so refreshing and yummy!

You could tweak this by adding flavored syrups or some chocolate syrup to make it more like a mocha (don't add sugar if using syrups). You can also used crushed ice or blend the whole concoction after mixing to make a frappe type beverage. You could add whipped cream! You could add ice cream! If you can dream it, you can do it!

Sorry, got carried away.

Enjoy your delicious iced coffee beverage while the sun shines! And don't throw away the used grounds - they are great for your plants in maintaining the acidity of the soil. Just throw 'em on top of your potted plants or in the garden and water to dissolve. Recycling! Yay! Now you can sit back and sip your delicious coffee while patting yourself on the back for being "green."

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