As a coffee lover, there’s one thing I just didn’t get until quite recently: iced coffee. What?! The idea left me well, cold. Coffee is supposed to be hot. Very, very hot. And then I made a fatal mistake. I accepted a sample of iced coffee in a popular coffee shop. It was strong, sweet, creamy and icy, icy cold. Wow.
I needed to figure out how to make this myself—it was that good—because as much as I might want iced coffee again, I was not going to pay the outrageous price to have someone else make it for me.
One might think, as I did, that pouring hot coffee over ice, adding milk and sugar would do the trick. Not exactly. The problem is that the ice seriously dilutes the coffee, a problem that sent me in search of the secret for why the sample was not at all diluted. That’s when I discovered that Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, is quite an iced coffee aficionado, and willing to share her secrets.
First, you must make a big batch of very strong “cold brew” coffee that you will store in the refrigerator. Into a very large container, dump one pound of ground, dark, rich coffee. Any brand will do. Now pour in 8 quarts (2 gallons) of cold water. Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the dry coffee is wet. Cover. Allow to steep for at least 8 hours, longer is just fine.
Line a large sieve or colander with several layers of cheese cloth and pour the steeped coffee grounds through. You’ll need to prod it a bit to get all of that coffee perfectly sieved, but stick with it. You’ll end up with just shy of 8 quarts of rich, dark coffee concentrate that will be void of bitterness and very low in acidity. Discard the coffee dregs, cover and place the concentrate in the refrigerator. Covered tightly, this will be good for at least six weeks in the refrigerator.
Now you’re ready to make a tall, cold, wonderful glass of perfect iced coffee: Fill your glass―or, Ree’s choice of a one-quart canning jar―with ice. Pour very cold coffee concentrate over the ice until the glass is a little more than half full. Fill with your choice of milk (skim, 2 percent or whole), or try my choice (half and half; and no, I will not apologize). Add the amount of sugar you need to make it as sweet as you desire. Stir to mix. There you have it: icy cold, undiluted, perfect iced coffee.
Not ready to commit to nearly two gallons of coffee concentrate? No problem. Scale down the proportions: 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each cup of cold water. In any proportion, iced coffee made this way is even better than the sample that got me into all of this in the first place.
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