I’m a cook, I’m a foodie, and I’m a herb whisperer. My life is seasonal and revolves around the only two places I love to be: a kitchen and a garden. I’m in my own garden, or visiting the gardens of others, from spring through summer. I’m in my own kitchen, or the kitchens of friends, throughout the fall. Winter finds me writing and testing recipes for the next book project. And through the rhythm of the seasons, my life is connected to family and friends through anniversaries, birthdays, holiday celebrations and many other gift-giving opportunities.
So it’s not unusual for me to spread the love with a jar of jam, or to toss a playful punch with a tin of homemade Madras Curry Blend. There’s something deeply touching about opening a jar of homemade chutney (homemade for heaven’s sake!) or popping the lid on a sweet and sassy chocolate mousse – pack a spoon and I bet it’ll be eaten right from the jar… before your eyes.
I promise that these special gifts won’t take long to make, and I hope you spend more time having fun thinking of ways to package, label and adorn them; that you express your own inventive creativity and think out of the box… or jar or tin. So start collecting interesting bottles, containers, bags, paper, ties, labels and cards and get into your favourite room to start your homemade gifts with the recipes below.
To Sterilize Jars: Stand jars up in a canner or stock pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the jars by 1 inch. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. Cover the pan and boil for 15 minutes.
Remove lid and let the pot stand for 5 minutes before removing jars. Remove and fill one jar at a time and cap before filling the next jar.
To Scald Lids: Place rings and flat lid pieces in a pan. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour over lid pieces. Set aside until lids are required. Use tongs to remove lids from the hot water.
* A Maslin pan is a stainless steel, heavy-bottomed canning pan that is narrow at the base and wider at the top (to encourage surface evaporation). Alternately, any heavy-bottomed pan large enough to hold 6 – 8 litres of liquid will suffice.