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When I was a kid, whenever my siblings or I were in bed with a cough, sore throat, or otherwise nasty cold, my stepmom would make us a big mug of honey-lemon-ginger "tea." Nothing more than boiling water and lemon juice infused with ginger root and sweetened with a bit of honey, it was a simple concoction, but it provided welcome comfort -- at least a little bit -- when we were sick.
When I met my husband, I learned that he had long relied on a similar anti-cold brew that also included garlic and cayenne pepper. Sipping a hot liquid of most any kind feels good when you have a cold, but beyond this, most of these ingredients have anti-bacterial properties, which certainly doesn't hurt when it comes to fighting a cold.
Even when I'm not sick I enjoy this "tea," and these days my favorite version of it includes a lot of lemon and ginger, along with honey and a bit of cayenne pepper. It's a favorite around our house, especially this winter when it's been so cold here in Maine. Sipping a hot mug by the wood stove is a delightful way to warm up.
Because we drink this tea so much, I thought it would be handy to adapt it into a jelly -- a tea "concentrate" of sorts. This way, we simply scoop a couple of spoonfuls of the jelly into a mug, add boiling water, mix well, and enjoy a quick and easy mug of tea!
The jelly by itself is pretty intense (very lemony and with a bit of heat), though I do, on occasion, eat it plain or on toast. For tea, I find that 2 tablespoons of jelly per cup of boiling water works well, though you might want more or less jelly depending on your taste.
Cold Comfort Jelly
Cold Comfort Jelly is a low-honey cooked jelly made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona's Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener.
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona's pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Cold Comfort Jelly Ingredients
¼ pound fresh ginger root
2½ cups water
10-15 lemons (enough to yield 2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice)
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
4 teaspoons calcium water
1½ cups honey, divided
4 teaspoons Pomona's Pectin powder
Cold Comfort Jelly Directions
1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2. Slice the ginger root into thin pieces--1/4 inch thick or less. Place the sliced ginger into a sauce pan, add the 2 1/2 cups water, cover with a lid, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook, still covered, for 15 minutes. Then, remove from the heat.
3. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a large, heat-proof measuring cup or bowl. Discard the ginger pieces (or use them for something else). Measure out 2 cups of the ginger-infused liquid. If you have more liquid than you need, remove as much liquid as necessary to meet the 2 cup measurement. If you don't have enough of the ginger-infused liquid, simply add more water to meet the 2 cup measurement.
4. Juice the lemons. Pour the freshly-squeezed lemon juice through a fine mesh strainer. If necessary, use your fingers to press the pulp against the strainer, extracting as much juice as possible. Discard any seeds or pulp remaining in the strainer. Measure out 2 cups of the lemon juice. (If you have extra, you can use it for something else.)
5. Combine the 2 cups of the ginger- infused liquid and the 2 cups of lemon juice in a sauce pan. Add the cayenne powder and calcium water, then stir to combine.
6. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup of the honey and the pectin powder. Mix well and set aside.
7. Bring the ginger-lemon liquid to rolling boil over high heat. Add the honey-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Add the remaining 3/4 cup honey, and stir to dissolve the honey while returning the mixture to a boil. Then, remove it from the heat.
8. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with jelly, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to "fingertip tight" (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).
9. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
10. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then, remove jars from canner.
11. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then, confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use.
Recipe and Photos by Allison Carroll Duffy.