This is the first in a series of articles providing green food gift ideas for the holidays. Today’s falls in the small, DIY, budget-friendly gift category.
By Analiese Paik
The last of our herbs have been harvested and dried, except for the parsley which doesn’t seem to mind the cold. As I washed, dried and hung the herbs to dry this year, I daydreamed about bottling whole leaves for hostess gifts. I thought how much my friends would appreciate a jar of homegrown herbs, a gift from my organic garden to their kitchen.
After making pumpkin pie and pumpkin muffins last week, I decided it was time to clean out the spice cabinet in search of storage jars for this project. The otherwise thankless chore yielded 8 empty jars that brought a smile to my face and energized me to wrestle off old labels. A short soak in boiling water softened the labels enough to be wiped off easily with a sponge, but the label glue remained. A quick (but careful) swabbing down with tea tree oil removed 99 percent of the glue and I scrubbed away the rest with warm, soapy water and a rough sponge. Warning! Be careful not to get the tea tree oil on your skin or inhale it. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not use it. It should never be ingested and should always be kept out of reach of small children and pets.
How to Bottle and Label Dried Herbs for Gifts
- Remove labels from old jars, wash jars and caps with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. If you need to buy jars, Penzey’s sells glass jars of different sizes.
- Drain jars and lids until dry or dry thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel.
Lay dried herbs on clean, light-colored kitchen towels (one for each type) then snap off large herb leaves, as in the case of sage, or gently run your fingers along the dried stems to pull off smaller, more fragile leaves like tarragon and oregano leaves. Compost dried stems.
Fill each bottle to the top with one type of dried herb leaves. Insert large leaves 4 or 5 at a time, stacking bundles on top of one another so there’s no dead space. Top with the smallest leaves to fill the head space. For oregano and tarragon, simply fill the bottle with pinches of herbs and tap it to make room for more as you go.
Cap the bottles and create homemade labels to decorate them. If you have a label maker, great. If you don’t, just use a template on Word that matches the number on your box of labels. Be sure to include the type of herb, a holiday greeting, and your name of course!
Et voila! You have a wonderful and practical DIY green food hostess gift that you both grew and made yourself.