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Recently someone from a canning group I’m in shared their “Instant” Iced Tea method. It’s basically making a concentrate that is canned in pint portions so that it keeps in your pantry like a jar of the instant granules do. Then, when you need to make a pitcher of tea in a hurry, you just add water. For me, there are plenty of times a pitcher of tea winds up being a picnic afterthought for one reason or another and this is a fantastic way to make it easy to grab a jar of concentrate, add water, and instantly have good, homemade sweet tea. The recipe below will produce enough concentrate to make 4 gallons of tea, but this is easily doubled if you want more in storage as it will keep for at least a year. There’s a bit of science that goes into what makes a product shelf-stable and although to my knowledge this is not an “FDA approved” recipe, (insert eye-roll here) both the sugar and the lemon contained in this recipe combined with the method and length of processing time should put a check mark in all the necessary safety boxes. The sugar is enough that you can even leave the lemon out if it’s not to your taste and pressure can it instead. If you’re at all squeamish about the safety of it, then the pressure canner is the way to go. Pressure canning takes the jar contents to a higher heat level during processing and is used for less stable items like meats and non-acidic vegetables. It wouldn’t hurt a thing to do the tea that way if that’s more in your comfort zone or if you’ve chosen to omit the lemon, aka acidity.
“Instant” Homemade Iced Tea – makes 4 pints (or 4 gallons once prepared to drink)
6 Cups Boiling Water
10 Family Size Tea Bags (we prefer Luzianne, but of course any brand works – even HERBAL!)
4 to 5 Cups of Sugar (adjust to your taste)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (optional)
4 Pint Size Canning Jars – Ball Pint Jar – Regular Mouth
Add the tea bags to the boiling water and steep for 5 – 8 minutes. Remove tea bags and bring liquid back to a boil. Add lemon, if using it, and add sugar to your taste. Boil for 1 minute. Fill sterilized pint size canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch head space, and process for 15 minutes using the water bath method. When ready to serve tea, empty pint jar contents into a large pitcher, add 1 gallon of cold water and stir. Simple as that! “Instant” homemade sweet tea that’s not instant. 🙂
Sidenote: For all the times I’ve extolled the virtues of everything “old way”, I’ll admit, sometimes there are truly improvements to the way things used to be. Just this canning season I came across a canning funnel made by Farberware that I may love even more than my old funnel that used to be my Grandmother’s. It fits both regular and wide mouth jars and has… headspace markings!!! I would guess most people, myself included, eyeball it, but the markings make it so nice!
Walmart carries them and you can also find them through Amazon here if you’re interested: Canning Funnel with Headspace Markings