Ahhh, Independence Day. A day where Americans can reflect on what our forefathers went through to create this nation, and to remember how far we’ve come. But mostly just shoot off fireworks and get hammered. Totes legit. Go ‘Murica.
Anyway, because I’m certifiably insane I usually like to make red, white & blue themed desserts for this weekend. Like a sweet cherry cream pie, or strawberry shortcake cupcakes, or blueberry hand pies. This year I wasn’t feeling it- it’s actually too hot to have that oven on. So I did something totally different. I made cherry preserves. Because I have a lot of cherries, in case you didn’t know.
But, because I’m a wackjob, these are not just ANY cherry preserves…
They’re cherry preserves made with green tea + jasmine!
I had this tea series my dad got me for Christmas, the Boston Tea Company‘s Boston Harbour Series. And seeing that and putting that together with Independence Day, plus all these cherries I have… it gave me an idea. Why not go back to my old standby for making preserves: infusing them with tea!?
The Boston Tea Party was pivotal in the formation of the United States, after all. It should get some credit!
I picked the green tea with jasmine because I thought that would go excellently with the cherries. And I was right, it does. It’s quite flowery, though, so if you’re not into that skip the jasmine and just use a green tea. Green tea + cherries is awesome.
Chun Mee green tea, as I used here, just so happens to be a super old variety. It means “precious eyebrow tea” in Chinese, because the leaves are crescent-shaped. It has a soft, plum like flavor, which goes nicely with the stone fruit cousin of a plum, the cherry. Add to that the flowery jasmine flavor and scent and you have an incredibly interesting preserve!
White tea works great with cherry, too, though. So you can use that as well. Actually you can use any tea you like. I have a Davidson’s Bing Cherry Almond tea that would work beautifully, without too much of a departure from the norm. Or try a hibiscus tea! That would be excellent.
GREEN TEA + JASMINE CHERRY PRESERVES
- 4 cups roughly chopped, pitted sweet cherries* (around 3 lbs.)
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 box SURE-JELL powdered pectin
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 bags green tea + jasmine (or plain green tea), or the loose tea equivalent
- Place the cherries in a large saucepan (notice I say large- they do bubble quite a bit). In a separate bowl, add the pectin to 1/2 cup of sugar and mix well, then add this to the cherries. Stir to combine.
- Place two tea bags into the pan with the cherries. I cut off the strings and just throw them in, then take ’em out with tongs later, but the technique is up to you. Just put ’em in there and turn on the heat.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. You want a hard boil, the kind that cannot be stirred down. Add lemon juice and remaining sugar; return to a boil and boil for ONE MINUTE. Turn off heat.
- Skim the foam. Open the last bag of tea and sprinkle it into the preserves. Stir thoroughly. Let sit for two minutes.
- Spoon or ladle into hot, sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe rims. Add lids and bands to fingertip tight. Process for 10 minutes in a waterbath canner. Remove and let sit for 24 hours. Any lids that aren’t sealed and make noise/move when pressed, get those jars into the fridge and use right away. Any other sealed jars will last one year if stored in a cool, dark spot.
*Sour cherries are a different animal, and while you certainly could use them for this recipe, it would taste very different, and you’d have to alter the sugar (use a bit more) and lessen the lemon juice (probably none). So therefore I’d say if you’re dead set on using sour cherries, use a mix of half sweet and half sour, and skip the jasmine.
Pretty much the only limitation on you here is your flavor preference, tea-wise. I’ve used Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas in peach and nectarine preserves and marmalades before, and that’s been delicious. And I’ve made straight up tea jelly before too, twice, and that was a success. So experiment! Tea is amazing, and can be either bold or subtle, so anything can work. And yes, loose tea works as well. Just figure out (or use Google) what the teaspoon equivalent of an average tea bag is.
Happy birthday, America! And I’m glad we don’t have to waste any more tea in the ocean to prove our point, and we can use it for fun stuff like this.