I know! I know! I know!
Gardens are coming on and flowers are blooming. The heat is on and rains are falling. BUT, yes now is the time to think about some items for our Christmas gift boxes.
Some gifts have to be thought of during the summer months - because that is when ingredients are plentiful!
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE JAM
2 quarts crushed/finely chopped pineapple (about 2 whole pineapples)
2 1/2 C white sugar
2 1/2 C brown sugar
1 lemon - pulp and juice
2 C water
1 - 16 oz. jar maraschino cherries (chopped and rinsed)
1 tsp. almond extract
Makes 8 - 1/2 pints
Combine all ingredients except cherry and extract. Bring to a slow boil and stir until sugar is all dissolved. Cook rapidly to a gel phase - stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in cherries and almond extract. Place in hot jars and leave 1/4" head space. Process for 15 minutes in a water bath.
YUM!!!! How wonderful on biscuits over ice cream or oatmeal. So many uses.
LEMON OR MINT EXTRACTS
Pull your lemon balm or mint and remove leaves. Crush a little or bruise the leaves. Place leaves in a jar - lightly packing about 3/4 full. Top with vodka or rum. Lid and place in a cool dark place - for around 4 months. Shake every now and then.
Strain and place in nice bottle or jar and use as you would store bought.
This is the one I use - as per Martha Stewart recipe. There are many out there!
2 split vanilla beans per 1 cup of vodka. Let it set 3 - 4 months before using.
Place crushed or bruised leaves of any herbs - basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc. in a jar and cover with cider vinegar. Let it set for a few months to absorb herb flavors. Great to use over Italian foods or as a salad topping. Many uses.
Think about spaghetti sauces, pizza sauce, pickles, relishes, peppers, Cowboy candy (jalapenos), jellies and jams - anything you can prepare from fresh and can. These things make wonderful gifts!
Watch the thrift stores and yard sales for fancy little bottles and jars to place vinegars or extracts in. You can get them for next to nothing. Dollar Tree is another place to look for cute little bottles.
You can make up pretty labels and copy at home to really make your items look special.
These items can be purchased at high end specialty stores for a LOT of money. Make it yourself for little.
So even though you may be sweating your bum off - it is time to start looking around for all these wonderful fresh goodies to turn into beautiful and thoughtful special gifts.
PS ** You might want to keep watch for garden seeds on markdown. They would make a nice addition to gift baskets with maybe some garden gloves or grow pots.
Let's get CREATIVE!