Homemade anything is always best. But homemade liqueurs and edible gifts really is the best way to go at Christmas time. Your family and friends will love you even more for one (or more) of these gorgeous tasty goodies.
Homemade Liqueurs And Edible Gifts
The gift of food is timeless. Way back in caveman times your beloved could drag home an antelope to show how much he cared. Now things are just a tad easier and somewhat lighter too!
All joking aside giving food, sustenance as a gift really shows that you care. Especially if that gift is handmade.
That shows that you have used your time, the most valuable commodity of all to produce a gift for your friend/family member.
What makes a good edible gift?
Nobody is really going to thank you for a plastic bottle of Tesco basics tomato ketchup. Actually they might depending on how lock-down goes, but let’s not think about that.
What they would thank you for would be a beautifully presented bottle of homemade limoncello liqueur for them to sip whilst dreaming of Italian sunshine.
Or homemade chilli ketchup that you just know they’d love to slather on their favourite burgers while watching a good movie on TV.
I like to break down foodie gifts into different categories;
Homemade Liqueurs, Baked Goods, Sweets and Treats, Savoury jars, Sweet jars and Oils and Vinegars.
The shelf life of homemade edible gifts
An edible gift should last at least a few days without any great effort on the part of the recipient. To this end, I do not include pesto, mayonnaise and the like in my lists.
Yes, these are delightful and tasty goodies but they have to be kept in the fridge. If you hand them over to someone they might forget to put them in there right away and your thoughtful gift could be ruined.
Packaging your food gifts
Always make sure that your packaging is suitable for the gift. Bottles for vinegars shouldn’t have reactive metal lids.
Biscuits and cookies etc should never be put in a vintage tin unless there is a waxed paper/cellophane liner between the cookies and the old metal.
Bottles and jars should have a secure lid and must always be sterilised first.
Look out for nice ribbons and pretty strings etc for tieing up boxes and adding labels. I am one of those people who never throws away ribbon and have a drawer full of bits and bobs that find their way on to new foodie gifts every year.
Labelling your homemade liqueurs and edible gifts
Make sure that you label your gifts clearly. State the date it was made and when you think it should be used by.
Most things should be stored in the fridge once they are opened. Remember to state this on your label. Never assume that the recipient will know that.
New to this whole preserving lark? Then don’t panic I’ve got you covered. Just check out these quick articles and I’ll take you from zero to hero in kitchen crafting in no time at all.
New to preserving? Then don’t panic, I can take you from zero to hero in no time at all.
Just check out these handy articles to get you heading in the right direction fast;
My cookbooks on making homemade liqueurs and edible gifts
Yes, I am so into this whole kitchen crafting business that I wrote books on it. My book So Easy Christmas was published in 2010. That was my second book after So Easy Herbal which has some nice foodie gift ideas too.
After that, I had Scottish baking and party food books published. The other two foodie gifts books are available now as eBooks but were originally brought out as printed books and sold at my cooking demos.
Homemade Edible Gifts Cooking Demos
Normally on the run-up to Christmas I would be busy doing cooking demos at big shows like Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair and Edinburgh Foodies Christmas Show.
I would be going on Radio Scotland extolling the virtues of the great foodie gift and doing demonstrations around Scotland at the WRI and gardening clubs.
Alas, this year good old Covid 19 has put paid to all that fun and games. So I thought I’d pull all my homemade liqueur recipes and edible gift recipes together in one place. You can check out everything here from the comfort of your own livingroom.
Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas
One year I was even a finalist on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas TV show. I made my Auld Alliance Christmas hamper mixing French and Scottish foodie treats.
From Bordeaux Jelly to Scottish minty macaroons. Oat and almond crumble crackers to homemade yoghurt cheese in herb oil. And of course not forgetting my Scotch mist liqueur (copycat Drambuie) which went down a treat with the judges.
Ingredients for homemade liqueurs and edible gifts
For this list I’m including recipes for summer fruit jams and liqueurs like strawberry etc. Fruits you can still actually buy in the supermarket even though out of season. Check the freezers!
Actually, at this time of year, you can get some good fruity bargains and make small batches of jams and chutneys which are just perfect for gifting.
There is no need whatsoever to Think Big. Small batch preserving is the way to go!
Of course, if you are like me you are thinking of foodie gifts and liqueurs all year round.
Even when I’m whipping up something sweet and tasty with raspberries and elderflowers in May I can be thinking about who would really love this as a prezzie come Christmas.
The great thing about homemade liqueurs and preserves is the fact that they normally keep for up to a year. So they really do make the perfect foodie gift even when you are making them at a completely different time of year.
Homemade Liqueurs and Infusions
Aaah the gift of hooch! My friends would feel shortchanged if I didn’t hand over something alcoholic at Christmas time.
When I do cooking demonstrations it is always the booze recipes that draw the crowds. Might have something to do with the free samples as well I guess!
What is the difference between a liqueur and an Infusion?
This is always a question that comes up on blog posts and when I’m doing demos. It is a simple one to answer really and in one word.
An infusion is an alcohol base with added fruits, herbs, spices or even veggies soaked in it. Their flavours are sucked into the alcohol creating an infusion.
Basically, it is alcohol flavoured with something, say mint.
The simple addition of sugar is what turns that infusion (flavoured alcohol) into a liqueur.
Now you can add the sugar to your jar with the alcohol of choice and the flavouring at the begining of the process. Or you can make what is called a ‘simple syrup’ (50/50 sugar and water boiled till slightly thickened) and add this after the infusion process has taken place.
How long do homemade liqueurs take to make?
When I started out on this homemade hooch journey many years ago I used to leave my infusions for over a month, sometimes even longer.
Then with trial and error, I realised that many of the liqueurs and infusions that I make could have the most amazing flavours within a week or so.
Why wait longer if you don’t have to.
Judge for yourself of course. I always taste my homemade liqueurs and infusions after a week. If I think they are strong enough then I go right ahead with my recipe.
If I feel they could do with a bit longer to infuse more flavour I set them aside again and check again in a couple of days. Resist the temptation to drink the whole lot during the tasting period, remember this is meant to be a gift!
How long do homemade liqueurs keep?
I usually say they will keep for up to a year in a cool dark place. I say dark because things can lose their colours through direct sunlight. On each recipe I state how long a shelflife I think an item has.
Bottles for homemade liqueurs
When you are giving boozy gifts try to find nice little bottles for gifting. Check out charity shops and the like for old cut glass decanters.
These sorts of things aren’t that popular anymore so you can pick up some great bargains. That way you are giving a double gift. The hooch and the decanter.
I buy those mini-sized bottles of wine and use those for liqueurs. As liqueurs are served in shot sizes a mini wine bottle holds about 4 shots. Okay so I have to drink the wine myself first, but hey we all have to suffer for our art. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Craft and hobby shops are also a good hunting ground for liqueur bottles.
Make sure that you always sterilise all bottles first before pouring in your hooch.
Simply click on the link to zap to the actual recipe for lots of information, the full recipe, some super photos and serving suggestions too.
Baked Food Gifts
For my baked goodies I am only including things that will keep for a few days. I am not even including scones in this list. As to my mind, they are only really good on the day they are made.
I am also only including biscuits/cookies, crackers and brownies in this list.
There are no full-sized cakes other than the two Christmas cakes and Dundee cake at the bottom of the list. These are fruit cakes so can be wrapped easily.
Loaf cakes like gingerbread can also be easily packaged. You can even give them in the baking tin itself. a double prezzie!
To my mind, other types of cake really aren’t suitable as foodie gifts as they aren’t very packable.
Homemade Sweets and Treats
Homemade sweets are super easy to make and fun too. Most people love something sweet and many of these little recipes are suitable for kids to make too.
Rolling truffles is messy work so always good to farm that one out to the children.
Homemade Edible Gifts In Jars
Possibly the most traditional of the edible gifts. The foodie gifts that come in jars.
from jams and jellies to pickles, chutneys and a whole lot more. I’ve listed everything I can here that I think you might just find useful in your quest for the perfect foodie gifts to give this Christmas.
Jams and Jellies
The classic foodie gift, fancy jars of sweet jams. There is a wide selection here. As I said earlier I am only listing things that you can actually make now. You should be able to get all the ingredients for these jams and jellies in the supermarket.
Either fresh fruits or from the freezer section.3 Ingredient Dried Apricot Jam
Sweet and pretty and easy to make. Curds don’t have the long shelf life of jams and jellies but they will keep a few weeks so still make a nice edible gift.
Remember to state a ‘use by’ date on your labels.Lovely Lemon Curd
Savoury Gifts In Jars
Homemade Chutney and Relish
Chutney and relish are so easy to make. There is none of that guessing and testing for the setting point as there is for jams and jellies.
Just drag that wooden spoon through the chutney and if it leaves a clear trail in the pan then you are good to go.
These make great gifts for those who love a good Ploughman’s lunch, like their BBQ and burgers or are right into a good cheeseboard.Apricot and Almond Chutney
Edible Gifts Preserved In Oil
One of the oldest preserving methods known to man. Saving food in oil goes back to Ancient Greek and Roman times and is still very popular all over Europe.
Sterilise those jars, can’t stress this one enough.
Also please remember that when you put olive oil in the fridge it will solidify and go cloudy. It is perfectly okay and will revert back to it’s clear gorgeous self when it comes up to room temperature.
Pickles are super easy to make. You are really just making up the pickling brine then pouring it over the veggies to be pickled. Find nice jars and sterilise before use.
Other Homemade Edible Gifts
Here is a mixture of all sorts of goodies that make great foodie gifts. Always remember to label things clearly and state where they should be kept and how long they will last.
Serving suggestions are always good too.Homemade vegan Christmas mincemeat
Homemade Sugars and Salts
A great one for the kids to make. Package your flavoured salts and sugars either in small jars – check out old spice jars and the like. Or in cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon.
Attach a label with some serving suggestions on it.Mediterranean Seasoning Salt
Homemade Oils and Vinegars
Homemade oils and vinegars infused with different herbs and fruits are super easy to make. It’s something the children can get involved with. These make great gifts for kids to give to relatives and teachers too.
Look out for small bottles (mini wine bottles) and those old fashioned fancy cut glass bottles for these. Sterilise them first.Spiced Apple Vinegar
So that’s it folks, your ultimate guide to homemade liqueurs and edible gifts for Christmas. There is so much here for you to choose from I’m pretty sure you will find something that will make you and your friends happy on the big day.
Merry Christmas when it comes!
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