Archive for July, 2012

Posted by Stitchy McYarnpants 14 COMMENTS

Jars, people. Ball jars.

That’s right, I’m going off the grid. You can take your marxistcommiesocialist electricity and plug it where the sun don’t shine. And when the end times come (oh, they’re gonna come, my friend. But due to lack of interest – WHO WILL CARE FOR THE PETS??!?!?), I’m still going to have coffee. I will also have my hair dryer, because I need to look good post-rapture. And my TV because if I can’t watch The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert over and over, what’s the point of being left behind? And my Zojirushi rice cooker because that thing is suh-weet! It totally cooks quinoa and beans and hopefully the random carcasses I’ll gather in my travels along our new smoldering hellscape!

OK, I’m going to need a generator.

But not for coffee. No, ma’am. Enabler extraordinaire, Kellee (you may know her from blogs such as Obsession du Jour and the amazing Communal Skillet), has shown me the the One True Way to achieve the best iced coffee ever. And I really only ever drink iced coffee.

 

 

Cold brew is the way to go. I got this novelty-sized Ball jar at Target. Those are it’s little quart-sized babies all around it. It’s a gallon and was labelled as a “Decorative or Craft Jar”. The tag seemed to dare me to put anything besides pom-poms or glittery pipe-cleaners  chenille stems into it. But after much turning and sniffing and knocking on it, I decided it was actually made of glass and went for it. I noticed later that “NOT FOR CANNING” is printed in large bumpy letters around the bottom. So yeah, forget canning an entire garden’s worth of tomatoes at once.

Here’s how it works. You get a pound of coffee. Please note that all those little bags and cans at the store that seem like they’re a pound of coffee are not actually a pound of coffee.  They are, in fact, something in the neighborhood of 10-12 oz of coffee. Total bullshit. I got a 14-oz can at Trader Joe’s and was right pissed when I weighed the contents to find it was less that 11-oz. I suspect that the grinding machine kept 3-oz for itself. Not good.

Anyway, for my maiden voyage, Kellee shared some of her special stash with me. An honest-to-goodness pound of French Market Coffee with chicory. Apparently it tastes like New Orleans in a can. My personal memories of New Orleans are all pretty vague, but this coffee didn’t taste at all like stale cigarettes and beer-soaked, never-been-vacuumed carpet. Maybe that’s a different blend.

So now you have your empty jar and your bag of coffee. Dump the coffee into the jar. Fill the jar the rest of the way with cold water. Put the lid on. Back away. Try not to think about it for 12-24 hours.*

Here’s what the top will look like. Resist poking at it too much. Maybe a quick poke because it’s so sludgy and pokable.

 

 

(click the picture for big). Looks like you could make a huge mess with that, eh? Don’t worry, it’s only messy if you aren’t careful when it comes time to straining it.

Like so.

 

 

Here’s the real lesson. I only kind of know how a gun works, but I think it has to do with something being shoved in there. And it’s stuck behind something else that’s really stuffed in there good. Then, when the pressure is released, that first thing that was put in there comes flying out of there like the dickens.

Cold brew is just like that. The coffee grounds form kind of a plug, especially if the mouth of the jar is small. Don’t just skip on over to the jar all “tra-la-la, I would like some coffee now” and dump it into the strainer. Especially don’t do that near a bunch of dishes you just washed. A series of annoying things will happen.

Now is when you can really poke at those grounds. Get them to fall into the jar, then, VERY CAREFULLY AND S-L-O-W-L-Y start pouring it out into the strainer. The last batch I did went much smoother. I ended up pouring the jar out into a large pasta strainer over a big-ass roasting pan. Then from the roasting pan, I strained the liquid again through this smaller strainer into this pan. This method removed most of the grounds and grit and there was no coffee explosion.

I did manage to save 2 quarts out of that first batch and it was damn tasty! I’d never had chicory before and I really liked it. But I’ll be switching back to regular coffee going forward (using chicory ice cubes made from this batch). I’ll keep experimenting with the time and size of the grind to find that perfect balance, but honestly, I don’t see this really ever coming out bad. The cold brewing process doesn’t draw out the acid, so the coffee is smooth and sweet. I don’t even use sugar in it, just milk.

I’m hooked and now I have extra counter space where the coffee maker used to be. Win-win!

 

 

*A quick note on brewing time. I did the chicory for 12 hours and it was great, I did regular coffee for 24 and it was also great. I did find that the chicory batch was much more concentrated (I used 1/3 cup of the concentrate to 2/3 cups of milk)  than the coffee batch, but I think that was because I had less coffee and should have used much less water. I barely diluted that to drink and it was strong, but good. I just strained another batch today using a full pound of coffee, ground on the “fine” setting, and I let it sit for a full 24 hours, so hopefully I’ll get a higher concentrate.**

 

**Yep! That was juuust right. It’s about a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of coffee to water/milk.

Now I need a compost pile for all those grounds . . .