Take inspiration from your perennial herb garden this holiday season, and think about all the homemade garden gifts it could help you make for everyone on your Christmas shopping list this year! If you’re crafty and love the sentimentality and personal touch of handmade gifts, this how-to guide is for you.
Which Herbs Can Survive a Non-Extreme Canadian Winter?
Here in British Columbia, we’re lucky enough to have a mild winter that many herbs can live through, though you may want to give your container herb gardens a bit of extra protection by putting them in a greenhouse or by bringing them indoors. Bay leaf, lavender, rosemary, savory, curry, mint, sage, and tarragon are some of the most well-known herbs that’ll make it through our mild Pacific Northwest winter. Coincidentally, these herbs can also be used to make some incredible homemade Christmas presents! Here are a few ideas:
Make Lavender-Infused Honey
Honey is such a soothing way to sweeten a cup of tea or a latte, and the added aroma of lavender imparts deliciously unique floral and citrus notes to any drink. Best of all, it makes a beautiful gift for anyone on your list this year. Lavender typically blooms from mid-June until the end of the summer, so if you’ve got some dried lavender flowers from last season, this is the perfect way to use them up!
For this recipe, you’ll need 1 cup of wildflower honey and two tablespoons of dried lavender flowers. Mix the ingredients in a small saucepan and gently warm the honey over low heat for three minutes. Take your time and watch the honey closely, as you don’t want it to start bubbling or burning. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to infuse for an extra eight hours.
Afterwards, gently heat the honey again to make it easier to strain out the flowers, again being careful not to let it bubble or burn. Strain out the lavender flowers with a fine mesh strainer and pour the honey into your jar of choice.
Finally, add a label, or tie a gift tag to the jar using twine. For an extra personal touch, try writing out your favourite hot drink recipe to give your recipient some inspiration for their new gift!
Infuse Olive Oil With Homegrown Rosemary
This homemade rosemary-infused olive oil is as fragrant as it is versatile. Use it to roast potatoes or chicken, dunk some focaccia in it, or, for a surprisingly delicious twist, drizzle it over popcorn in place of butter. Above all, it makes a wonderful gift for any foodies in your life.
For this recipe, you’ll need 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil and ¼ cup of fresh or dried rosemary leaves. Although the flavours will be more intense with fresh rosemary, using dried rosemary will help your homemade infused oils last longer since there’s no moisture and, therefore, no risk of bacteria growth. If you’d like to use fresh herbs, soak them in vinegar first to safeguard against spoiling. Remember to rinse them off before infusing, though!
Put the oil and rosemary into an evenly-heating pot, and warm the mixture over low heat for 5-10 minutes. The key is to warm the oil without ever reaching a simmer. Next, turn off the heat and allow the rosemary to infuse in the oil for at least one hour before straining it into a glass bottle of your choice. Use twine to tie a tag on the bottle, perhaps including some of the usage ideas we listed above!
If using fresh herbs, your oil will last for up to a week in the fridge, so make sure your recipient keeps it refrigerated and uses it promptly. If you used dried rosemary, your oil will last at room temperature for up to a month.
Make a Herbal Bath Mix
Give the gift of a healing and relaxing soak in the tub with an easy homemade herbal bath mix. Simply dry a mix of herbs from your garden and put around half a cup of the mix into a muslin bag. All your giftee has to do next is drop the bag into their bath as the water runs.
There are a variety of herbs you can choose for this project, depending on what you have. Here are a few great options to keep in mind, along with their unique properties:
Lavender: Calms the nervous system and rejuvenates skin
Mint: Stimulating and healing for the skin
Rosemary: Helps with relaxation
Sage: Helps heal sore muscles after an intense workout
Eucalyptus: Promotes calm and opens up blocked sinuses. Currently in stock at the garden centre, just in time for the holiday season!
When finished, attach a tag with instructions for use and some information about the herbs you’ve chosen.
Besides being a great base for homemade gifts, an edible herb garden can also help you liven things up in the kitchen from summer through winter. Stop by Mother Nature in Powell River today, and we’ll help you start a herb garden that will serve you well year-round!