Make-Ahead Holiday Gifts from Your Kitchen

Make-Ahead Holiday Gifts from Your KitchenAs you are working on your holiday lists, know there is still time to do some make-ahead holiday gifts from your kitchen. Here is a variety of foodie presents that transcend cookies. They are great for gift exchanges, host/hostess gifts, and look wonderful under the tree.

Be creative with your bottles, jars, and labels—this adds a unique touch.

Fruit-Infused Vodka
The vodka takes on the color of the fruit, so you can play with which fruits produce what colors. We prefer single-fruit vodkas, but experiment. The possibilities are endless!

2 cups chopped fruit
2 to 3 cups 80-proof vodka
Optional flavorings: citrus peels, minced ginger, split vanilla beans, whole cloves, whole star anise, whole cinnamon sticks, and peppercorns.

Wash and pat the fruit dry cutting it in small pieces. Transfer the fruit to a canning jar along with any optional flavorings. Berries or softer fruit can be muddled to release more flavor.

Pour enough vodka over the fruit to complete cover it. Seal the jar tightly, and put it in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar each day to distribute the flavor. After 4 or 5 days, strain the fruit and return the vodka to the jar. (The strained fruit is delicious over ice cream.) If your vodka still has seeds, try straining once again with a double layer of cheesecloth.

Transfer the vodka to decorative bottles.

If you want to make a fruit liqueur, mix the infused vodka to taste with simple syrup.

Preserved Lemons from our archive
This is our favorite method of preserving lemons as taught by Kitty Morse in her Moroccan cooking class.

Herb-Infused Honey
For the herbs we like to use individual hers such as rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon balm, rose petals or lemon verbena. If you wan to do a blend, we recommend herbs de provence. It is best if the herbs are whole leaves or sprigs, as chopped herbs can be difficult to strain.

This is one instance where it is important to used dried herbs to avoid contamination with bacteria.

Use about 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried hers per 8 ounces of mild-flavored honey.


Place your herbs in the bottom of a jar and fill it almost to the brim with honey. Stir to coat the herbs thoroughly and top off with honey to fill the jar. Wipe the rim and outside of the jar down, and cover tightly.

Masons jars work well for this because of their tight seal. Make certain to label and date the jars.

Allow the herbs to infuse for at least five days and up to a couple of weeks. The longer they sit, the stronger the flavor. Turn the jars every few days to mix.

Strain the honey into a clean jar. You can use the leftover herbs to make a delicious, sweet tea.

Store the honey in a tightly-covered jar in a cool dry place.

Homemade Garlic Dill Pickles from our archive
Often called kosher-style dill pickles, these are quick to make. Use either small whole cucumbers or cut larger ones into quarters. For an additional interesting flavor, tuck a small dried hot red pepper into each jar (which we definitely recommend).

Apple-Cinnamon Infused Bourbon from our archive
The flavors are perfect for Christmas with the combination of sweet and spicy. So, be certain to make enough for both gifts and for you to sip.

And if you really want to bake, try our recipe for Cranberry Tea Loaf from our archive. It is a favorite!

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