herbs for giving

Christmas is traditionally a time of giving

Unfortunately the giving part has been overtaken by the buying part. The true message of christmas can be lost when we feel forced to spend money and time buying gifts that have little meaning attached to them

You can get off that mindless and expensive consumer trip and make some beautiful, useful and handmade gifts at home with the herbs from your garden

Two of my favorite things to make with herbs are herb infused oils and vinegars.

They are easy to make and if you set aside a couple of hours on a weekend you can produce your own delicious and heartfelt christmas gifts for your friends and family

So to begin you will need to collect a variety of decorative bottles to put your produce in, preferably recycled ones. You can sterilize them before you fill them by placing them in a hot oven for 15 minutes. The tops can be sterilized by boiling them in water

Once you have infused your oils and vinegars have these sterilized containers ready to fill. Follow the recipes I have included and then make your own labels for the bottles and decorate them as you wish with string, fabrics or ribbons

Infused Oil

As there are only a few weeks before Christmas it will be quicker to make a warm oil infusion as the cold oil infusion can take a month or more to be ready

Place 250 grams of your herb of choice into a glass bowl. If you are using fresh herbs be sure to pick them in the middle of the day when the herb has little moisture on it as this can cause the oil to spoil

Cover the herbs with 500mls of extra virgin olive oil

Place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and simmer gently for three to four hours. Keep an eye on the water in the pan and replenish as required

Strain the mixture through muslin or a clean cotton tea towel squeezing the excess oil from the plant material. Bottle, label and decorate

Some infused oil suggestions are dill and lemon oil, thyme oil, rosemary, thyme and marjoram oil, and basil and chili oil

Infused vinegars

I always use organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar for infusing as it has many health giving properties

Place your chosen herbs and spices into a clean wide mouthed jar. Add one and a half cups of your chosen herbs to four cups of vinegar

Before you add the vinegar gently heat it but do not boil. Add the warmed vinegar to the herbs and seal the jar. Allow this mixture to steep for three weeks. Once the three weeks is up strain and then divide the vinegar into your sterilized, decorative bottles and label

Some infused vinegar suggestions are rosemary and pink rose petal infused vinegar, sage, thyme, bay, marjoram and tarragon vinegar, basil, garlic and chili vinegar, tarragon vinegar or lastly sage, rosemary, tarragon and marjoram vinegar

These gifts can be made now so that when christmas arrives they will be ready to use

I hope you enjoy making these gifts as much as you will enjoy giving them

With herbs you can practice self help by giving a gift that has meaning and is not just a perfunctory spending of money

I hope you all enjoy the festive season and the time spent with family and friends

Until next year continue to practice self help