DIY Holiday Gifting

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frosty rosehips

BY AMY PENNINGTON

 

Several holiday seasons ago, I decided to stop buying material gifts for family and friends and start making handmade presents. Anything from peach mostarda to cinnamon sugar qualified as an awesome gift, as far as I was concerned, and more often than not they made for popular gifts. (Aside from that ex-sister-in-law who never opened her jar of handpicked blackberry jam.) Starting in summer, I’d make a few extra jars of brandied cherries, or dry fennel blossoms for turkey rub—both perfect for serving at the holiday buffet. The unexpected benefit, of course, was that come November I had a cupboard full of gifts ready to go.

Food gifts are particularly lovely to share. The time and effort it takes to make delicious treats creates value that cannot otherwise be purchased. Contributing small jars of garnish used to embellish cocktails is without equal in terms of an elegant gesture. For the inevitable barrage of holiday parties you’ll attend, they make excellent hostess gifts. Alternatively, make something to be consumed during the day; this is a compassionate gesture for families or anyone hosting out-of-towners. A cautionary note before you get started this year: when you dole out boozy fruits and expertly made granola around the holidays, your gift-giving list is bound to grow year by year. For that, you may just want to double the batch.

 

Maraschino Cranberries

makes about 8 half pints | start to finish: about 30 minutes active time
From Edible Seattle November/December 2013

Cranberries are ripe and available at farmers markets in mid-November, making them an excellent option for holiday gifting. Here, a traditional Maraschino cherry recipe is followed using local cranberries instead. Maraschino liqueur is made from the Marasca cherry in Croatia or Italy, and a few brands are reasonably easy to find locally. If you can’t locate Maraschino, look for Kirsch—Oregon’s Clear Creek Distillery makes a good one.

5 lbs fresh cranberries

8 cups Maraschino liqueur

1 1/2 cups sugar

To clean cranberries, add the cranberries to a large bowl of water and pick out any stems or dried leaves that float to the top. Drain the berries and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add the Maraschino and the sugar, and set the pan over medium low heat. Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook them for 5 minutes. Do not overcook, or they will turn soggy and flat. (You are cooking them only to let out a bit of air, in order to pack each of the canning jars fully.)

Using a slotted spoon, fill jars with just-cooked cranberries. Tap the jars lightly on the counter to help pack down the fruit, and re-fill them with more cranberries, if need be. Leave 1” of headspace. Continue filling all the jars in this fashion.

To cover the cranberries, pour the cooled Maraschino syrup into a liquid measuring cup and gently pour over the fruit, leaving a ½” of headspace. Cap jars and store in a cool dark cupboard for at least three days before serving. Jars should be refrigerated after one month to inhibit decay, though the cranberries will keep for several months more.

washed jars • refrigerate

Rosehip Granola

makes about 3 pints | start to finish: about 30 minutes active time
From Edible Seattle November/December 2013

Rosehips are bright red ‘berries’ that form on the stems of rose bushes and trees after the blooms die back. These fleshy globes encase seeds for the roses and can be eaten raw or dried. Rosehips form in mid-autumn and are best harvested after the first frost. This granola is best served over yogurt with a spoonful of honey.

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups sliced almonds

2 cups raw, unsweetened coconut flakes

2 tablespoon untoasted sesame seeds

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup dried rosehips

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the oats and almonds on a sheet pan and stir to combine. Put the pan in the oven and toast for 5 minutes. Add the coconut flakes and sesame seeds. Toss to redistribute, and spread out into a single layer.
Toast until the coconut flakes are golden brown and sesame seeds are fragrant, another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle on the salt. Add the rosehips and ginger and stir well to combine. Let cool completely before filling pint jars.
washed jars • pantry storage

Dried Rosehips

makes about 2 cups| start to finish: about 2 hours active time

Harvest 6 cups of rosehips from untreated, wild bushes between late October and mid-November. To begin the drying process, wash and dry them completely. Trim off both the stem and blossom ends. Lay them out on newspaper in a single layer to dry for several days.

After three to five days, cut the rosehips in half, and using a small spoon, scoop out the interior hair and seeds. (Allowing them to dry slightly first makes the removal of the hair and seeds far easier. This process can be long and arduous, but the hairs can be very irritating if ingested.)

Once all of the rosehips have been cleaned, preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Place the semi-dried rosehips in a single layer on a sheet pan and put it in the oven to dry overnight. The drying time will depend on the size of the rosehips, but figure it will take 5 to 7 hours. Rosehips are done when they are entirely dry and hard to the touch.

When rosehips have been completely dehydrated and cooled, add them all to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until they are coarsely chopped. Do not over process, or the rosehips will turn into a powder. Store crushed rosehips in a glass jar in the cupboard, where they will keep for several months.

washed jars • pantry storage

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