Thinking about Homemade Herbal Gifts
As the harvest canning season winds down for me (I only have apples to deal with this Fall), I begin to think about the upcoming holidays and what I can use as gifts from my kitchen. Not only does it save so much money, but the gift recipients love the unique and useful gifts that were made with my love.
This year, I’m thinking I need simple. In the past I’ve made herbal cordials and vinegars, which took some time to be ready to gift. But this year, my thoughts are turning to jellies and jams, as well as potpourris. Things I can make, and they are ready right away. My frozen raspberries can easily be paired with mint to make a delicious jelly. And strawberry jam with lemon thyme is a pretty good combo. For a how-to on jams, see this site: Bright and Fruity Strawberry Jam, Your Way Recipe (seriouseats.com). I just add about a teaspoon of lemon thyme leaves, and it sends it over the top. These recipes make 6-8 jelly jars each all ready for a bow and a tag. Visit this site to see what combos work best and how much herb to add to your recipe: Herbs & Berries: Discover New Pie & Jam Recipes | Driscoll's (driscolls.com)
With half my gift-giving list taken care of, now I’m thinking potpourri can finish up my gift list. Who doesn’t love sweet smells for the home as we snuggle in for the long winter? My first step is to see what I have in terms of bulky basics; dried pine needles, pinecones, cinnamon sticks and pieces, wood shavings and sweet gum balls or rose hips. To that, I decide to dry some rose petals, lavender buds, statice, strawflower. I’ll need to order some orris root powder (it helps to act as a fixative for scent---merely add 1 to 2 tablespoons to a large bowl of potpourri). For herbs I can use Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Lemon balm and other good smelling stuff. For spices I can use powdered cinnamon, star anise, whole cloves, and ginger. You can brighten it up with dried slices of lemon, orange or apple slices too.
After you have gathered up a huge bowl of dried material, added your orris root, now you can add your essential oils in any combo that suits you---just add until you get the right strength. To make a citrusy blend, focus on dried oranges and add sweet orange essential oils, eucalyptus or rosemary. For a lemony yet spicy blend, focus on cloves, lemon slices and lemon essential oil, or lemongrass. Dried mint leaves would be good with peppermint essential oils for an enticing holiday scent, and if you want that pine smell of the season, use the pine needles with any of the pine essential oils, rosemary or eucalyptus. You get the picture.
Stir your mixture well, and have mason jars with lids to put your delightful mixture in. Be sure to give your blend a wonderful name and label it. Tie it with a beautiful ribbon and let the mixture steep and get stronger until you are ready to give. And that’s how you take the stress out of the holidays. Use what you have, give from your heart and enjoy the coming holidays.