Keen on having a greener Christmas? Want to avoid the consumerist Christmas rush and take some time with your gifting this year? Whether it’s a pot of jam, a box of cookies or a bottle of sloe gin, making your own edible gifts, is a great way to do just that. You might be surprised to learn just how easy it can be, too. Here are our favourite recipes for homemade Christmas gifts, for both keen and lazy cooks alike.
Photography: Natalé Towell
Sloe gin is a Christmas gift classic, but if you didn’t get round to picking sloe berries this year, try infusing quality vodka with seasonal, fresh cranberries instead. It’s simple to make. To make cranberry vodka, prick 150g fresh cranberries with a knife, then place in a sterilised bottle with 100g sugar. Pour over 70cl vodka (we used Our/London Vodka), then seal. It needs a couple of weeks to infuse, but you can leave it for longer.
Alternatively, infuse quality gin with citrus peel, like orange or lemon (just make sure you remove the bitter white pith first). Got any blackberries leftover in the freezer? Try this blackberry gin recipe.
DIY kits for aspiring cooks
Encourage the ones you love to get cooking. Got any aspiring bakers in your life? Put together a bread-making kit, with everything they need to make their own sourdough starter, with all the instructions and guidance they need to go with it. Biscuit-making kits are perfect for kids – layer up the dry ingredients in a jar, tie it up with the recipe and a mix of cookie cutters so they can have fun with it. Spice mixes are a wonderful gift for those keen cooks looking to expand their kitchen repertoire. For anyone wanting to try fermenting, but don’t know where to start, put together a kit for them. Check out our guides for making kombucha, water kefir and even cheese.
Who doesn’t love a box of biscuits, a homemade cake or a box of truffles made with love and care? These cardamom and ginger biscuits are a wonderful twist on ginger biscuits with a little extra spice, or for more obvious Christmas fare, Angel biscuits make a lovely homemade gift. For the chocolate fiends, this recipe for Honeycomb and hazelnut chocolate truffles will go down a treat.
From jams and marmalades to pickles and ferments, preserves are the gift that keep on giving. There are so many way you can preserve the seasons to make beautiful gifts for your friends. Check out this beginner’s guide to fermenting with a wonderful basic recipe for red cabbage kraut, try this Polish-inspired recipe for bang-in-season fermented rainbow chard or a have a go at spicy kimchi. Citrus is coming into season now, with juicy lemons and oranges at their best. Preserving a batch of lemons is incredibly easy and adds a hit of special, umami flavour to all sorts of dishes (try this step-by-step guide). For the cheese lovers, who’d turn down bacon jam?
If making preserves seems like too much effort, making flavoured oils and honeys takes next to no time, and they’re amazing flavour-bombs to have in the cupboard. Perfect for both keen and lazy cooks. Sage oil on fried eggs is transformative, as is a kick of chilli oil on your last-minute stir-fry dinner. Rosemary oil works magic with roast potatoes, and garlic infusions are good with just about everything. Chilli honey is incredible on a cheeseboard. Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, lavender, rose petals all infuse wonderfully with honey.
Try this guide for infusing olive oil – a simple process of heating oil, adding your chosen flavouring and leaving it to cool, before bottling it up with cute labels. The same goes for honey. And if none of that speaks to you, what about making flavoured salts?.
Keen to have an ethical, greener Christmas this year? From Christmas trees to your Christmas dinner, here’s our guide.