Homemade Holiday Gifts to Start Making Now

making breadHoliday gifts that are handmade hold a special meaning beyond what can be had by store. Though the thought of making them now, in the height of harvesting, canning and, storing may seem misplaced, it is actually the perfect time to make them.

You don’t have to purchase costly special equipment or ingredients. Most of these recipes use the herbs, spices, and produce you probably already have on hand. Those that you don’t are easily available at your local farmer’s market, grocery store or online.

All Things Hot 

The variety of the chili peppers you choose, determines the level of heat for your final product.

Tips: Use extra care when processing and handling hot peppers whether fresh, dried or powdered they can cause burns. To avoid unwanted heat, start preparing and grinding mildest peppers first.

Hot Pepper Powderschili peppers
I use an electric coffee grinder that I only use for grinding my hot peppers. I grind some bread through it when I am finished to absorb any remaining pepper oil, then clean it as per manufacturer’s instructions.

Work in batches. Place the dried peppers into the grinder, then turn on the grinder. Begin by pulsing then continue grinding until you reach the coarseness you want.

Wait a couple of moments for the dust in the grinder to settle, a blast of hot pepper powder to the face is not a happy experience.

My recipes I follow are also how I label my hot pepper powders

  • Warm – Poblano peppers are known as Ancho chilies when they are dried.
  • Spicy – Jalapeno
  • Heat It Up – Jalapeno 4:1 Habanero
  • Hot – All Habanero
  • Close to The Flame – Habanero 4:1 Ghost Pepper
  • Hotter Than Hades: All Ghost Pepper – Remember the warning sheet. This item is only for very serious “Chili Heads” only! I grind it on my deck for extra breathable air.

Carefully pour each strength into a decorative jelly jar and be sure to label.

All Things Sweet

These easy mixtures are made using every day granulated sugar, a coffee grinder, and wide-mouth mason jars.

Tips: Let the sugars infuse at least a month to get a full-flavored sugar. Work in batches. You will get a more even blend of sugar and flavoring if you shake the jars every now and then.

Apple Pie Sugarlehman's 78 reading apple peelerSave those apple peels while you are putting up your apples for sauce. Dehydrate the peels until crispy.

  • Dehydrated peels from 6 apples
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • Pinch of salt

Vanilla Sugar with Dried Vanilla Beans 
This recipe came about after I discovered I had not completely closed the container that held my vanilla beans.

  • Use the formula of 1 vanilla pod to 2 cups of sugar
  • Break up the whole dried vanilla pods into pieces and grind with some of the sugar
  • Add vanilla mixture to the sugar

Traditional Vanilla Sugar
Use the same formula of 1 vanilla pods to 2 cups of sugar. Bury empty fresh vanilla pod in container of sugar.

Tip: Vanilla seeds can be used to flavor sauces, icings, etc.

Lavender Sugar 
For a special treat use this sugar in your favorite sugar cookie recipe.

  • Basic formula of 1 Tablespoon flowers buds to 1 cup of sugar
  • Chop buds and sugar to a fine mix
  • Add flower mixture back to sugar

Tips: Lavender flowers need to be completely dry. If you do not grow your own lavender, be sure the lavender your purchase is food safe.

Whether you like it hot or you like it sweet, these easy recipes are perfect for making delicious homemade gifts for family, friends and yourself.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.