Turn Your Garden Harvest into Homemade Gift Ideas
As you are working hard to preserve the harvest, put some of it by for gift giving. Your garden has many homemade gift ideas for you. Homegrown jams, jellies, wine, liqueurs, honey, fruit, and dried herbs make unique and appreciated gifts. Add a handmade accent like a honey dipper, beeswax candles, or handmade soap. A vintage treasure adds to the uniqueness of the gift, too. Consider adding an antique spoon or teacup, and you have a gift that is perfect for someone special.
I like to present homemade gifts in a small basket, lined with an antique linen napkin. If the gift is a surprise, cover the whole basket in a large tea towel. If the gift doesn’t require wrapping, let the basket be its presentation. Inexpensive wicker baskets can be found for a few dollars at thrift stores. Or you can make them out of willow and other pliable branches from your garden.
As you are putting by jams and jellies for your own family, put by some smaller decorative jars, too. When you are looking for homemade gift ideas later in the season, you’ll have a head start with these pretty jelly jars, all made up and ready. Decorate the jelly jars with a square of fabric over the lid, and a pretty label or leave them plain.
I had an abundance of crab apples this year and made Hot Pepper Jelly and this Apple Pie Chai Jelly. I put it in decorative jelly jars so it will be ready for gift giving, this winter. If you don’t have crab apples any tart apple can be used. It doesn’t need commercial pectin. There is enough pectin in the apples to gel this.
Note: When you are finished draining the apple pulp, to make the jelly, put the pulp through a food mill and make apple sauce or fruit leather from the leftovers.
Apple pie chai Jelly
Yield: 7 — 250ml jelly jars
24 cups of crab apples or other tart apples (8 lbs.)
8 cups of water
1 cup lemon juice
4 cups of organic sugar
2 tsp. sweet cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cardamom
Wash the crab apples. Sort them for any imperfections or bruises. Remove the stem and blossom ends and cut them in half. If you are using other tart apples, quarter them, after removing the stem and blossom end. No need to remove the seeds and cores. They will add extra pectin. Cut out any bruises or bad spots. Add water and the apples to an 8 quart pot. Simmer on low heat until the crabapples are soft.
Mash the apples with a potato masher to release as much juice as possible.
Wet a cloth or jelly bag and wring out excess moisture. Line a colander with the wet cloth or use a jelly funnel. (I use a gauze diaper, purchased specifically for kitchen use.) Pour the cooked and mashed crabapples through the cloth, catching the juice in a clean bowl. Tie up and suspend the cloth over the bowl to catch the drips. Leave it overnight. Don’t squeeze the cloth or your jelly will be cloudy.
Add the juice, at least 7 cups, to a large sauce pan. Add lemon juice and sugar. Bring the juice, lemon juice, and sugar to a full rolling boil. Boil for 15 to 18 minutes until the liquid passes the gel test.
Remove from the heat. Skim off any foam.
Pre-warm the jelly jars by washing in hot water. While still hot, pour into 7 — 250 ml/ 1 cup jelly jars. Cap with sterilized lids and rings. Tighten rings until finger tight. Process the apple jelly in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Remove from the water and cool on a tea towel for a few hours or overnight. Jelly will solidify while the jars cool. Sometimes it takes a few days for the jelly to become more solid. Don’t despair. If it passed the gel test, it will gel when it is cool.
Modify this recipe for competition jelly:
Since powdered spices are used in this recipe, the jelly will not be crystal clear. If you are making this jelly for a competition, use whole spices rather than powdered spices and tie the spices in a cloth bag. Boil the bag of spices in the apple juice, remove the spice bag before adding the sugar and lemon juice and then proceed with the recipe. I haven’t tried it this way so I can’t advise on how much dried spice to use. You’ll need to experiment on the amount of whole spices and how long to simmer them in the juice to get the flavour to your liking.
Use Apple Pie Chai Jelly for homemade gift ideas
Here are a few themed homemade gift ideas to stir up the flame of your creative fire.
For a hostess gift, skip the flowers or the bottle wine and bring along a jar or two of homemade jelly. Add a pair of beeswax candles, some tea from your garden herbs, or a handmade vintage jam spoon, if jelly alone is not enough.
Apple Themed Gift Basket:
Package this recipe in decorative jelly jars, and give an apple themed gift basket with apple fruit leather, cowboy candy fruit leather, hot pepper jelly, apple pie chai jelly, and dried apple slices. Pair it up with an apple print tea towel. Stitch up an apple shaped pot holder or if it’s for your favorite young adult, an iTunes gift card (there’s an apple on the card.)
Wrap a loaf of homemade bread in a linen bread bag, and include a jar of jelly and a vintage silver jelly spoon for spreading. Include the recipe for homemade bread, and the apple chai jelly recipe on handwritten cards.
Homemade crackers, a jar of apple pie chai jelly, a jar of hot pepper jelly, a bottle of homemade wine, and a homemade cheese ball. Add vintage linen napkins and a vintage silver butter spreader to complete the gift.
Homemade bees wax candles, a loaf of French bread, presented in a handmade linen bread bag, Baby Gouda cheese rounds, and a jar of apple pie chai jelly (this recipe). Adda jelly spoon made from a vintage silver spoon to make it memorable.
I hope this stimulates your creativity and lets you think about your efforts to preserve the harvest as something more than simply a full larder.
Back to you:
What’s your favorite homemade gift that you’ve ever received?
National Organic Harvest Month
September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, I’ve teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm