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Quince Slices in a Spiced Chai Syrup

quince in chai syrup

I am a coffee drinker. Growing up in a cafe-loving city like Portland, OR, it was hard not to pick up the habit during my early high school years. However, every 18 months or so, I cut way back on coffee and switch to black tea. I don’t do it intentionally, there just comes a morning when I wake up craving the nuance of tea.

quince and chai

I am currently smack in the midst of a tea phase. However, this one isn’t as inexplicable as the previous ones have been. I trace it directly to a recent preserving project that Alexis from teaspoons & petals and I recently tried.

Wanting to see how fall fruit would work with a tea infusion, we imagined a few small jars filled with sliced poached quince suspended in a spiced chai syrup (our first collaboration was a peach oolong jelly) and set a date to make it happen.

making tea syrup

The morning of our canning appointment, Alexis picked up an assam-based chai spiked with cinnamon and cloves from Philadelphia’s House of Tea while I ran to Reading Terminal Market to pick up 4 fragrant quince. After washing them well to remove any fuzz from their skin, we chopped the quince into slices, taking care to remove any hard inner bits and put them in water to poach until tender (this took approximately 30 minutes).

poached quince into the syrup

While they cooked, we made the syrup. I combined 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar with 2 cups of water (this makes a fairly heavy syrup) in a medium saucepan and simmered until the sugar was entirely dissolved. Alexis measured out two generous tablespoons of the tea and tucked it into a paper infuser.

poached quince slices

We let the tea steep in the syrup for 5 minutes, tasting after the time was up to ensure that the flavor intensity was where we wanted it (it was). When the quince slices were tender but not falling apart, we lifted them out of the water with a spider and dropped them into the syrup.

Then it was just standard canning procedure. Funnel slices into prepared jars. Top with syrup. Remove air bubbles and adjust syrup levels (1/2 inch headspace, please). Wipe rims and apply lids and rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

quince in chai syrup

The result of this experiment are three half pints jars of the most wonderfully spiced slices of quince ever. The syrup is also a revelation, we had a bit leftover and I spent a couple of days making myself spiced chai sodas with sparkling water. I’ve served one jar with slices of this gingerbread (good on its own, it’s a marvel when drizzled with this syrup and topped with a couple slices of quince).

The only thing I’d do differently in the future is that I’d wait to make the syrup until the quince were finished poaching and use some of that liquid. That way, I’d get even more of the quince flavor into the final product.

If quince are already gone from your area, you might try this recipe with slices of pear instead. I imagine they’d be wonderful with a spiced syrup like this one. Skip the poached step and instead just cook the pears in the finished syrup for a moment or two. Imagine that served with some creamy cheese. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it!

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Guest Post: Elderberry Syrup with Alexis Siemons of teaspoons & petals

I’m off on a much-needed vacation this week with my husband Scott. While we wander the wilds of Lancaster County, PA, a few of my favorite bloggers will be dropping by to keep you entertained. First up is Alexis Siemons from the gorgeous blog teaspoons & petals. A freelance writer and tea consultant, she writes evocatively of tea and its many accompaniments. Today Alexis has a recipe for elderberry syrup and the perfect chilled tea to pair with it.

Warm days are fleeting as fall is creeping into the leaves and cooling the air. In hopes of holding on to summer just a bit longer, I’ve been steeping floral tea blends. The blossoming aromas of White Rose, Lavender & Mint and Jasmine Pearls are filling my kitchen with fresh-from-the-garden scents.

During a recent trip to a local spice shop, I perused the $1 basket in search of a new flavor. I love to close my eyes and reach in for a surprise find. This time, I jumped for joy when I saw a petite bag of dried elderberries lingering in the basket. While I’ve often tasted drinks mixed with the sweet berry, I’ve never brought them into my tea lab (a.k.a my kitchen counter).

In hopes of pairing the earthy berries with a fragrant tea, I decided to make an elderberry syrup to mix with the smooth, perfumed notes of Jasmine Pearls green tea. Combining the berries with water in a pot, the syrup had started to simmer on the stove. Before moving on to the steep, I took a moment to watch the tiny elderberries paint the water a deep eggplant shade.

The kettle began to sing its sweet song and I carefully spooned the delicate tea pearls into the infuser. (FYI the green tea leaves are naturally scented with fresh jasmine flowers and then hand-rolled into tiny pearls-a true art!). After the water had slightly cooled to a gentle steam, I poured it over the pearls and watched them tumble about in the infuser, slowly unfurling and releasing their jasmine fragrance.

The tea cooled on the counter as the berries finished their simmering dance. I strained them with a fine mesh infuser, squeezing out every drop of juice with a spoon. Normally when making a syrup you might use a 1:1 ratio of water to sweetener, but I prefer lighter syrups (only ½ cup of honey) that let the tea flavor still shine. I slowly stirred in summer amber pure honey from Two Gander Farm in Fleetwood, PA. The richness of the summer amber honey was a sweet companion to the earthy berries. After the syrup and tea had cooled, I poured them into a glass jar and bottle and let them chill in the fridge overnight.

Waking with a craving for a lightly sweetened sip, I headed to my fridge. The glass jar of the regal, deep purple elderberry syrup caught my eye. I poured the sweet and floral jasmine green tea into a tiny jar and stirred in a few spoonfuls of the syrup. Before adding a sprig of mint, I stole a sip. The smooth and refreshing green tea balanced the deep, earthy flavor of the elderberry syrup. The floral notes lingered on the palate as I watched summer start to fade from the window.

Recipes for the elderberry syrup and chilled tea after the jump…

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