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Posts tagged ‘CSA’

Celebrating Cilantro

Ok, so I have an herb obsession.

I have been collecting dried herbs from KMK Farms via The Farmer’s Daughter CSA for weeks, and discovered this morning that I have quite a stash.

herbs

The mason jar is FULL of dried mint. Makes the best tea ever. One of the bags lost its label, so I call it my “mystery herb”. One day I will remember what it was I’m sure. The plant? It’s a basil tree. Yeah. Tree. Lives inside or out (depending on season) and will live for at least five years. Leaves look like thyme but smell and taste like a mild basil. Kind of amazing. Not “frankenfood” by the way, just grafted. Kind of a fun “bonzai” type hobby plant too. I got distracted, sorry.

As much as I love to have dried herbs around, there is just nothing like fresh.

My favorite? Cilantro. Hands down. I LOVE the stuff. I use is instead of lettuce on tacos, chop it up into a spicy chicken salad, and have even juiced it with fruits and veggies. No matter how much I eat, I can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.

I opened my CSA box this week and saw the most gorgeous cilantro ever. It was so full and beautiful… and the smell. OMG.

Really, though, the results of Farmer’s last week were just gorgeous all the way around:

csabox2

Cilantro on the right. I mean, just look at that. ❤

Want to make a fun sauce for tacos or dressing for a cilantro salad? It’s easy-peasy.

Take 1/2 of a  bundle of cilantro, chopped, and pop it in a blender or food processor.

Puree with:

1 cup of sour cream

2 jalapeno peppers

a heavy pinch of salt

Two peeled avocados

Once smooth, squeeze the juice of one lime in and puree until combined. If its too thick, add a bit more sour cream.

SOOO delicious, especially on fish tacos or over a mixed green salad w/chicken, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and some good quality corn chips crushed over it.  Simple and delicious!

Cilantro is loaded with good-for-you goodness. I went through a detox at the beginning of the year and cilantro was an important part of my cleansing process. It leaches heavy metals out of your body, which may result in a headache when eaten in large quantities, but I stuck it out, figuring it was doing its job! Here’s more info on this wondrous herb:

cilantro

Cilantro season doesn’t last nearly as long as I want it to, so I’m eatin’ it up while I can. I’m also apparently stock piling any and all other herbs available.

Even mystery ones.

Creamy Quinoa

I have found that when it comes to my dietary restrictions, one of the issues I have is that I miss certain textures. I miss crunchy, for example. It’s a hard thing to come by when you can’t eat grains and starchy veggies.

I also miss  rich & creamy. Pasta in alfredo sauce. Mashed potatoes. Risotto.

Risotto is actually what led me to the following recipe. My doctor recently cleared me to eat quinoa so I have new options! I am so excited. Quinoa is often referred to as a grain, but is, in fact, more of a seed. Furthermore, it is closely related to leafy greens, which is pretty awesome. Never had quinoa? Check this out:

quinoa-infographic-large-green

I had some red quinoa on hand, and when my CSA box arrived, I was inspired by the smell of purple basil. What I really wanted was an amazing creamy risotto…or a basil cream sauce over pasta.

What I came up with was creamy quinoa.

I gathered my ingredients, All of my veggies/herbs were in my CSA box this week. Perfection. This could very easily be made into a vegan dish by skipping the cheese and subbing the butter. 🙂

1 pint of baby roma tomatoes

1 small white onion

3-4  cloves garlic

1 handful basil, finely chopped. (mine was purple…italian is good too.)

1/4 cup parm cheese (I think mozzarella would be yummy too!)

4 TBSP butter, divided

For the quinoa:

1 cup dry quinoa

2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar

1.5 cups water or bone broth

It was a very simple process and came together quickly. Just know that quinoa requires some soaking in order to remove the bitter coating on it. I always thought I hated quinoa until I learned to soak, and not just rinse it!

At least a few hours before preparing, soak your 1 cup of quinoa in about 1 cup of water. Add two tsp of raw apple cider vinegar (I always use bragg’s.) When you are ready to prepare it, rinse it really, really well, and add to your saucepan. Add the 1.5 cups of liquid (broth really makes a difference!) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, Put a lid on, drop the heat to low, and let it cook for about 15 minutes. You will know it is done with the liquid is gone, and all of your quinoa looks like it sprouted little white strings.

Set the quinoa aside.

In a blender or food processor, puree your onion.

Sautee the puree in 2 TBSP of butter.

While these are cooking, puree the tomatoes and garlic. ( I don’t rinse the processor out.)

Once the onion is translucent, add the tomato/garlic puree.

Cook until the liquid dissolves and it starts to thicken. (This took about 5-7 minutes)

Now, add the remaining butter, the parm cheese, and the quinoa. Toss until the cheese is melted and it starts to become creamy.

Top with basil at the very end, and toss to coat.

Serve  hot…or room temp…or cold. It’s good no matter what.

I topped mine with chicken breast…so yummy. I took a picture of it, but frankly, it doesn’t look appetizing. Terrible picture in bad lighting. Made it look like cafeteria food. 😉

It wasn’t risotto. Wasn’t pasta w/cream sauce, but it certainly was a tasty change from my usual protein + meat combination. Tasty, healthy, frugal and satisfying. Give it a try!

GRAIN FREE PIZZA! (Yes, Really! Purple Pesto Too!)

I am so excited about this, you have no idea.  I have officially (perhaps accidentally) made the world’s most delicious pizza, and it’s not on the list of forbidden foods.

Also, that is an exaggeration. Nothing beats Me-n-Eds pizza. I miss it so much. This may be the world’s most delicious grain free pizza, however.

I will still claim this is a victory, and victory is sweet.

I have tried a few grain free pizza crust recipes and was not terribly impressed. Then I found one made from tapioca flour and it was decent. Then I ran low on tapioca flour and substituted half of the needed amount of tapioca with arrowroot and OMG it was perfection.

When made with tapioca flour, it had a certain pie crust quality to it. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong, but the arrowroot allowed it to be a bit more cracker-y, which I really, really liked. I will be saving the original recipe, however, to make the pie crust topping for my favorite  chicken pot pie soup. I thought I was going to have to go without it this winter…there is hope once more. 😉 I love beautiful accidents. For the original recipe, go HERE.

Back to the pizza.

I made a very simple but delicious pizza using some delicious CSA items the other night. Cracker crust, purple pesto (recipe to follow), sliced chicken breast tossed with some of the pesto, mozzarella cheese and bell peppers.

I started with the pesto. I really might cry when my CSA stops offering the purple basil. It’s so incredibly flavorful and yet more mild that its italian counterpart.  I’m obsessed. To make the pesto, I gathered the following:

purplepesto1

4 cups purple basil leaves (this was two bundles for me)

1/2 cup raw almonds (cashew would work beautifully too, but they are on our “forbidden” list right now)

2 tsp crushed garlic

1/2 tsp real salt (any salt you have will work, this is just the one I have been using.)

at least 6 TBSP cold pressed olive oil

In a food processor or blender, pulse the almonds until they are fine and almost powdery. Then add the basil, and pulse until combined.  Add garlic and salt and continue to pulse or blend until all is combined. Drizzle in olive oil until pesto is at the desired consistency. I like mine to have enough oil to be spreadable. I probably used about 1/3 cup of olive oil in mine. Keep in mind, from here on out, and I never professed to be a food photographer.

purple pesto done

I will admit to you that it’s not a very pretty color. It sort of looks like potting soil. The taste is so worth it though, trust me. I also love to use almonds or cashews in pesto because pine nuts are so darn expensive. Also, this pesto does not call for parmesan cheese, so its vegan approved. 🙂

Set the pesto aside and get to work on the pizza crust now. 🙂

For the crust, you will need:

1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch

1/2 cup arrowroot

1/3 cup raw shredded parm cheese (I love TJ’s)

4 TBSP of refined coconut oil or other high-heat oil such as high-oleic sunflower

1 TBSP water

1 organic egg

Combine all ingredients. It will be sticky and kind of gummy.

Prepare 2 pieces of parchment paper the same size as your pizza pan ( you can trim the edges later)

BRUSH BOTH PIECES OF PARCHMENT WITH OLIVE OIL. IF YOU DO NOT DO THIS, YOU WILL END UP WITH A STICKY MESS.

Scrape the batter/ dough onto the first piece of parchment (on the greased side.) Now lay the other piece, greased side down, onto the dough. With a rolling pin, roll the crust out into a circle.

Peel the top piece of parchment off and discard. Put the crust, parchment and all, onto your pizza pan.

Carefully, with the back of a spoon, spread your purple peso over the entire thing. You will use about 1 cup. Reserve the rest for later.

purple pesto spread

Now, top with cheese.

purple pesto cheese

If you would like meat on your pizza, sautee some thinly sliced (about 1/4 in thick strips) chicken breast in a bit of butter or refined coconut oil. (I used 2 chicken breasts) Season with salt, garlic, and then about 1/2 cup of your pesto. Once cooked, add to the top of your pizza, along with whatever other goodies you want. I added some bell peppers from my CSA box. 

purple pesto chickenpeppers

Trim excess parchment off of the edges and Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400*.

purple pesto pizza slice

 

ENJOY!

Accidentally Awesome Tomatillo & Chicken Stew

I’ve said it before, but I love the challenge that a CSA box brings. Sometimes I pick random ingredients just to see if I can make something amazing out of them. It’s the same excitement I feel when I need a flawless outfit for an event and walk into a thrift store with $10.00. It’s the challenge.

This week’s CSA box was simple. Serrano chilies, baby roma tomatoes, white onions, heirloom tomatoes,  italian basil, (which made pretty great basil pom-poms.)

basilpompoms

and TOMATILLOS.

csabox

I picked the tomatillos, thinking I would make chile verde, but soon realized that the hatch chilies I thought I had in the freezer, were, in fact, not in the freezer. Fear not. This week’s box has tomatillos and sante fe chilies coming. Chile verde is SO happening soon.

So what do I do with two pounds of these fantastic little green globes?

Well, I make a delicious accident with some of them. The remaining 1.5 pounds? Not sure  yet.

Wanting to use as many ingredients from my box as possible, and hoping to use the leftover chicken from last night’s dinner, I came up with an idea. I would make a salsa, then make “tacos” out of grain free pita and top it with the salsa.

The idea evolved into something else, but here is how it started.

Start with:

6 tomatillos, husks removed and sticky stuff rinsed off

2 cloves garlic

1/2 of a white onion

juice of one lemon

1 tbsp. raw organic honey

1 serrano chili

pinch of sea salt

tomatillostewingred

In a food processor or blender, puree all of the ingredients until you have a smooth green salsa. I quickly decided that it needed to be cooked. I’m sure it was fine the way it was, but I wanted to develop the flavors a little bit.

I added about a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium sized pot, then added the sauce.   Once it came to a boil, I popped the lid on it, reduced the heat to a simmer and left it for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. I then added the cubed, cooked chicken I had leftover from last night’s dinner and let it continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.

It thickened up nicely and the flavors melded together so well. Serranos are pretty hot peppers, so it had real heat, but the sweetness of the honey balanced it beautifully. My only regret is that I am out of cilantro. And sour cream. A little bit of both would  have made it perfection.

I never made the pita (which I use as tortillas) because I really didn’t need them. It was so good on its own.

tomatillochickenstewfinished

Some of the best food is simple and cooked on the fly. Don’t be afraid to try new ingredients in new and different ways.

Lord knows I have a few more experiments to do. Tomatillo margaritas anyone?

Pasta-Free Lasagna

So, the other day I told you about how determined I was to conquer eggplant. Today, I’m going to tell you how the conquest continues.

In my CSA box from The Farmer’s Daughter CSA (or TFD) this week, I received not only eggplant, but italian zucchini in abundance. I use them in so many ways in the kitchen. Typically, I use them shredded to stretch a pound of grassfed beef or to thicken soups and stews. Tonight, I used them in a new and interesting way. I used them as pasta.

I know this is not a new practice, but it is the first time *I* have done it, so I am kind of excited. What made it more exciting is that I used the eggplant too. 🙂 I love this recipe because of  its versatility. Not interested in using veggies? Use pasta. Vegetarian? Skip the meat. Vegan? Skip the meat, use cashew cream cheese and your fave cheese alternative. It’s a good base to start with and modify to your tastes. Love a meal like that.

Also, I used some other amazing produce from my box to doctor up and stretch a jar of organic pasta sauce. 🙂 Let’s start there, shall we?

I began with a jarred sauce for several reasons. The top two being:

1.) It is a good “jumping off point”. All the right flavors are there, and we are just adding a few fresh ingredients to “freshen” up the jar and make it taste more homemade.

2.) I’m tired. It’s faster. The end.

When tomatoes are out of season, I will simply use two jars of sauce. Hopefully they will be sauce I canned myself at the end of summer, but we will see. 😉

I began w/a jar of Trader Joe’s brand Tomato and Basil Marinara sauce:

Good place to start.

Good place to start.

I also collected the remaining ingredients. :

1 lb. Organic Grassfed Beef

4 organic heirloom tomatoes (TFD)

1 cup organic basil (TFD)

1 small yellow onion (TFD)

5 cloves of garlic (TFD)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp italian seasoning (That I mixed together using various dried herbs from my CSA.)

2 TBSP good quality olive oil. 

2 TBSP of your fave red wine. Mine is Nelle. Wine is optional…if you don’t want it in your sauce, it will still be delicious. 🙂

Brown the ground beef over medium heat until cooked thoroughly in a large soup/sauce pot. Remove meat and set aside. Quarter the onion, and the tomatoes, seeding them. Add the garlic, onion, tomatoes, basil, salt, red pepper and italian seasoning to a food processor or blender. Pulse or puree until everything is combined the way you like it. I don’t like chunky sauce. You might. Do what makes ya happy.

Heat the olive oil in the same pot you cooked the meat in. Once oil is heated up (but not burning..olive oil will burn rather quickly!) Add the sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, and simmer with the lid on for about 30-45 minutes.

sauce

Once it has simmered for 30-45 minutes, add the wine, stir to combine, then add back the meat. Allow to simmer another 20 minutes or so. While the sauce is simmering, prepare your cheese filling. You can use whatever cheeses you enjoy, but my go-to is a ricotta-based filling with fresh herbs, mozzarella, parmesan, & an egg. Of course, I realized this morning that I forgot ricotta cheese when I shopped last week, so I had to make some. It is really easy, believe it or not. The directions I followed are here. It turned out beautifully. See?

ricottafinished

Anyway, I gathered my cheeses. I love this parm from Trader Joe’s. It is made w/Raw Milk. 🙂

lasagnacheese

In my food processor, I combined:

one ball of mozz cheese (I believe its an 8 oz package)

all of the ricotta I made (which is about the same as one small container from the store)

1/2 cup of grated parm cheese

1/2 cup fresh basil (TFD)

1/4 cup fresh parsley (TFD)

1 farm fresh egg.

Pulse (or blend) to combine. You want it to be creamy.

Once cheese in combined, put it in the fridge until you are ready to assemble.

You sauce should almost be done now, so give it a stir, and then let’s get to preparing your “pasta”.

You will need:

 3-4 small-medium organic eggplant (TFD)

4 organic italian zucchini (TFD)

Peel them, then slice lengthwise into 1/8-1/4 inch strips. They need not be uniform in length, but if you can keep the thickness uniform, it will help the outcome. Set those aside.

zucchinieggplantpasta

Now you can turn off the heat on your pasta sauce and start to assemble the lasagna.

Put a layer of sauce on the bottom of your 13×9 glass dish to keep any sticking from happening. Then put down one layer of the eggplant. With a spoon (or cookie scoop in my case) put dollops of the cheese filling over the top of it, about every couple of inches:

lasagnaassemble

Now, add a couple of large serving spoon-fulls of your amazing sauce over the top, and use the back of the spoon to spread the cheese out. If you try to spread the cheese before the sauce is poured over it, you will just drag the cheese and “pasta” all over the pan. It does not have to be perfectly even. When it bakes, the cheeses will melt into the dish, and the whole  thing will be amazingly cheesy.

lasagnaspreadcheese

Repeat the process, using the zucchini strips now. Zucchini, cheese dollops, the rest of your sauce and spread once more.

I had a few pieces of eggplant and zucchini left, and I’m not one to waste, so I added another layer of “pasta” to the very top, and dabbed the little bits of remaining cheese filling over the top. I topped the whole thing with about 1/2 cup of organic cheddar. Mozz would have been better, but I used all of mine in the filling. 😛  If you have already used all of your veggies, you can just top it off with the cheese of your choice after you finishing spreading your 2nd layer of cheese and sauce. Personally, I had to hide the top layer of veggies from my kids. 😉

you end up with something that looks like this:

lasagnaassembleddone

If you are me, you then cover it in foil, put it in the fridge until dinner time, sit down, write the majority of this post out, and bake later.

If you’re not me, cover it with foil,  pop it in a 375* oven and bake for about an hour. I would take the foil off the last ten minutes or so to brown it all up nicely. 🙂

Also, don’t hurry to serve it. It needs some time to set up. We were overwhelmed by how good it smelled and sliced it  bit early. It didn’t hold together, but we didn’t really care.

lasagna done

The verdict? The sauce does not taste like jarred sauce was ever involved. The herbs are flavorful and add a certain lightness to the dish. It was tasty. The hubs said it was “bomb.” This is saying something…he can be hard to win over, especially with these “replacement” type meals.

I hope you’ll give it a shot, it was worth the effort!

Baba Ganoush & Tabouleh Salad

Summer has definitely arrived. I don’t know about you, but I really hate summer for so many reasons. Hot, disgusting weather, poor air quality (at least where I live), bugs, high electric bills…ugh.

You know what I love about summer though? All the wonderous things coming out of the ground. Strawberries anyone? How about Heirloom tomatoes and basil? Yeah, it almost redeems my $400.00 PG&E bill.

My CSA, The Farmer’s Daughter, provides awesome food year round, but there is NOTHING like the summertime CSA boxes.

Here is a look at what I got this week:

If only you could smell it, seriously.

If only you could smell it, seriously.

Heirloom tomatoes, basil (caprece anyone?), mint, parsley, eggplant & zucchini is what I chose this week. Love that I can *choose* what I get in my box!

As soon as I saw the list of available items this week, I was struck by the word “eggplant.” I have heard myself people say that they don’t get eggplant in their boxes because they either don’t use them, don’t know HOW to use them, or just don’t like them. I am about to change your mind on that. I felt challenged by the eggplant…like it was some sort of mission for me to conquer. I would order the eggplant…and I WOULD USE IT!

I instantly thought of baba ganoush when I saw it. If you like hummus, you will likely enjoy baba ganoush. Being that I am off beans of all kinds right now, it seemed like the perfect way to quench my hummus craving. 🙂 Baba Ganoush made me think of Tabouleh salad, so I scanned the produce list and picked out several items for that. Mint, parsley, tomatoes…oh yes.

One problem: I am off grains too. Tabouleh is made with bulgur, which is essentially poached, crushed wheat. Obviously contraband for me. Then I thought about the fact that I had been making cauliflower rice…maybe I could pull this off!

And so, I give you, grain-free, gluten-free, vegan, raw tabouleh salad!

I started out with this:

helllooooo gorgeous!

helllooooo gorgeous!

Four heirloom tomatoes

One head of organic cauliflower (yeah, obviously not local…sorry ’bout that.)

2 bundles of organic parsley

1/2 of a bundle of organic green onions

1/4 – 1/2 cups chopped organic mint(depending on how much you love it)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp of sea salt

1/2 cup of good quality cold pressed olive oil, such as Bari.

Technically, There should be a peeled, chopped cucumber in there too, as I have never seen a tabouleh salad without one, but I had two issues with that. One, I didn’t have a cuke, and two, I *hate* cucumbers. If you are a cucumber lover, toss one in…I hear it’s delicious. 😉

I chopped the cauliflower into florets, cutting off the stalks. I added the cauli and the green onions to the food processor and pulsed until the cauliflower resembled something small and grain-like. If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the heck out of it.

tabouleh 1

It took 65 pulses. I counted for you. I ended up with this.

tabouleh 2

Dump your cauliflower “bulgur” and green onions into a large mixing bowl. Next, core and seed the tomatoes, and chop fine. Add to the bowl. Pulse the parsley and mint (or chop fine if you don’t have a food processor) until the herbs are very fine also.  Dump the herbs into the bowl. Sprinkle the mix w/the salt and drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over it all.

Now, mix.

Here, I display how to use fancy equipment to combine the ingredients:

High-Tech.

High-Tech.

Now, pour it into a serving bowl and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to merry and develop. 🙂

taboulehfinalni

While your salad is in the developing process, get to work on your baba ganoush.

First, take three medium-sized organic eggplants. Prick them several times w/a fork  and roast them over your gas burner, turning frequently, until evenly charred. If you do not have a gas burner, (and do not feel like pulling at the bbq to do this), don’t worry about it. It’s not a *necessary* step, but the smokey flavor sure is nice. Once charred (or not), put the eggplant on a cookie sheet and  into a 350* oven for 20-25 minutes until a knife can be poked into them w/out resistance.

Collect your ingredients:

babganoushingredients

3 roasted (and possibly charred) eggplants

1/2 cup organic parsley

1 TBSP cold pressed olive oil (Again, I like Bari)

5 cloves of garlic, peeled

3 TBSP lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/3 cup tahini (That Cedar’s brand was amazing, seriously!)

It’s a simple process. In a food processor (or blender if you don’t have one), Add the tahini, salt, lemon juice, parsley, crushed red pepper, olive oil and garlic cloves. Then, peel the skin back on the eggplant, and scoop out the pulp. Add eggplant to the processor/blender. Pulse several times until creamy.

Garnish w/parsley (or in this case, mint, because I used all my parsley between the tabouleh and the baba ganoush, lol), a bit more crushed red pepper,  and refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve w/pita chips or veggies. I made these grain free pitas, chopped them into triangles, and toasted them up to make chips.

babaganoushfinished

The flavors of summer are some of the best. Don’t miss your chance to eat plenty of fresh, delicious ingredients this time of year. You will never regret the time you spent in the kitchen to create yummy food. You also won’t break the bank on these dishes, which is good, considering your air conditioner is out to bankrupt you.

Don’t forget to look into CSA’s in your area. It’s a fab way to save a few bucks, nourish your body, and support your local farmers all at the same time.

Eat up and enjoy!

Mint Obsession

Mint is an amazing herb. I picked up my CSA box yesterday and within 2 minutes, the entire car smelled like a minty wonderland. I LOVE the stuff. I’m totally hung up on all forms of mint right now.  I think it’s because it makes me feel cooler. It’s freakin’ hot here ya’ll. I hate summer.

I use peppermint essential oil in my Rainbow “Rainmate” to help with headaches and fatigue. I use my Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap every day (which is pure bliss, btw), and I suck down mint tea like nobody’s business.  No sweeteners, no additives, no foreign, strange ingredients. Just mint, tea, and water…pretty awesome stuff.

Mint is good for so many things. Here’s the breakdown from http://www.medicinalplants-pharmacognosy.com:

Amazing stuff!

Amazing stuff!

This stuff is also killer for headaches. A little peppermint oil on the temples and the relief is almost immediate. It’s like magic.

I had three bundles of mint in my box yesterday. It doesn’t keep especially long so I had to get to work puttin’ it to use. I LOVE me some mint iced tea in the summer so I thought I would share with you my system for having it on hand whenever the need for more mint arises.  Doing it this way not only saves me time in the long run, but allows me to use up the mint while it is still potent and flavorful.  If I was to do several small batches, it would dry up before I was able to use it all in its fresh minty glory. Dried mint works too, but I happen to prefer it as green and tender as possible 🙂

Here’s the scoop:

Wash your mint. Pick off any darkened or otherwise undesirable leaves. Add to a large pot and fill about 3/4 of the way with water:

The smell is only rivaled by fresh basil.

The smell is only rivaled by fresh basil.

Next, prepare whatever you will be freezing your mint tea “concentrate” in. I use mason jars. Yeah, I know..you’re not supposed to be able to freeze in glass. This is not entirely true, you just have to use common sense. Liquid expands as it freezes, therefore, you must leave ample space for the expansion *and* use only WIDE MOUTH mason jars. If you use narrow necked ones, it will most certainly break in the freezer. Truth be told, I break several mason jars every time I freeze in bulk, mostly because I over-fill them. If you don’t want to risk this, the Ball company makes some great freezer containers. I have also used quart sized yogurt containers or re-purposed kefir bottles. I like the kefir bottles because I know my dairy uses BPA free plastic. If you are using plastic containers, please do not fill your containers until the tea cools. Heat and plastic are never a good combination. Not only because of its tendency to melt, but because of the nasty chemicals it can release when heated.

While you are preparing your containers, your tea is brewing. It should turn a light shade of green:

Almost there...

Almost there. Also, I wore turquoise yesterday.

Allow the tea to stay at a low boil for about 10-15 minutes. Strain out the leaves, and prepare to fill your containers. I always use a canning funnel to cut back on the mess.

Careful, it's hot!

Careful, it’s hot!

Do not fill it too high if you are using mason jars.

leave at least 2 inches of  headspace.

leave at least 2 inches of head space.

Allow your tea to cool completely before freezing. If you are using glass, you may want to freeze with lids OFF initially, so see if there is enough space after expansion occurs. This would have saved me two jars yesterday. Use common sense, remember? 😛

This pot of mint tea yielded 8 pints of tea “concentrate” as well as enough leftover for a gallon of iced black mint tea.
minttea5

After I filled my eight jars, I took the leftover quart (or so) of mint tea (while it was still blazing hot) and divided it evenly between two half gallon mason jars. The tea was still plenty hot to steep my black tea bags. I added four organic black tea bags to each jar and walked away for about 20 minutes.

My fave tea. $3.00 and change at Whole Foods. :)

My fave tea. $3.00 and change at Whole Foods. 🙂

Once 20 minutes had elapsed, I filled the jars with water, fished out the bags (which are awesome for my compost heap), covered, and stuck in the refrigerator. Here is a fun tip: The green lid of your parm cheese can fits the top of a narrow necked mason jar perfectly. Makes a great pouring spout:

mintteajug

One pint of “concentrate” w/four black tea bags will make one half gallon of perfectly minty iced tea. When you are ready to use it, just pull the frozen concentrate out, let it thaw for a bit, steep your black tea bags in hot water for about 20 minutes, add the mint tea, and fill to make 1/2 a gallon. Serve with sprigs of mint, lemon slices or just plain ol’ ice.

Enjoy, be refreshed, and nourish your body all at the same time 🙂

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