Hard to believe strawberry season will soon be over. By now my pantry should runneth over with homemade jam, except my heart is big and I often find myself giving jars of it away as if I had an endless supply. Thankfully I've also been building a stash of strawberries in the freezer, and one thing I'll really look forward to this winter is some strawberry sweet tea.
Since our apartment is above the boiler room and the rest of our co-op board prefers to keep the thermostat at 72º in the winter, it's not hard to imagine I live on a tropical island, even during a snowstorm. And when such an occasion hits, I'm going to make a batch of this iced tea, throw a blanket down on the floor and play picnic with the girls.
My handy tip to keep the tea bag
papers from falling into the pitcher.
Now, I should let you know straining the strawberry concentrate is one of my least favorite activities, but it really isn't a step to skip if, like me, you prefer a pulp-free iced tea (which is funny because I absolutely love pulp in my orange juice—go figure).
And if you're wondering why I didn't just puree the berries and add them to the tea, it's because it tasted a little tart that way. I found a quick cook in the microwave—you could do it in a small pot on the stovetop too, mellowed them out and developed a deeper, more intense strawberry flavor. Perhaps if the berries are super sweet, you can skip this step. And if you really want to get fancy, add some frozen whole berries to a tall glass for an slushy snack when the last sip is gone.
strawberry sweet tea
makes 2 quarts
This is called sweet tea for a reason, so please don't go serving it to any diabetic friends (or just cut back the sugar for a regular homemade iced tea).
8 cups boiling water
8 single-serve tea bags
1 cup strawberries, stems removed
3/4 cup (6 ounces) sugar
Place tea bags in a heat-proof glass pitcher. Pour in boiling water and let steep for 3 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags. Pour sugar into the hot tea and stir with a wooden spoon until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile puree the strawberries in a mini-chopper or food processor, making sure they are smooth and liquidy. Pour through a sieve or strainer and discard the seeds—you'll have about 1/4 cup of strawberry puree at this point.
Transfer the puree to a microwave-safe bowl or cup and cook on HIGH for 45 seconds. Add strawberry puree to the brewed tea and stir well. If you like, pour through a sieve or strainer once more to remove any remaining pulp. Let cool and serve over ice.