Even if you don’t have an abundant garden this year, don’t worry. You can still make these wonderful gifts of summer to hold onto for Christmas. You can find everything you need at a local farmer’s market.
How wonderful it will be when you welcome the holiday season knowing your gifts are ready to go.
FREEZER JAM. Mix 2 cups crushed fresh strawberries with 4 cups sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir one package dry pectin into 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers. Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Freeze and store frozen until ready to give. Makes 5 pints.
POTPOURRI. Begin the potpourri mix with dried flowers, petals, herbs and fruits from your garden. Add essential oil to intensify the fragrance. Package in glassine bags from the craft store or jars. Embellish with a pretty ribbon. Search online for more specific instructions.
FREEZER SALSA. Get a super large cooking pot. Chop finely 20 pounds tomatoes; 2 cups fresh cilantro, 2 large onions, 10 cloves garlic, 10 seeded jalapenos, 6 habanera peppers (or to taste) and 2 green peppers. Place all of the chopped vegetables in the pot. Add 2 tablespoons cumin, 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup white vinegar and the juice of 6 limes. Bring to a boil, lower temperature and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Drain off excess liquid. Fill 3-cup plastic containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cool. Add lids and freeze for up to one year. Makes 18 cups salsa.
GARDEN SEEDS. If you save seeds from your favorite open pollinated garden plants, create a great gift for another gardener by packaging the seeds and presenting in a decorative way. Take photos while your garden is at its peak of beauty to include with your gift.
ZUCCHINI PICKLES. What a great way to preserve boundless summer zucchini, and make ahead Christmas gifts. Place 2 pounds sliced zucchini and 2 medium onions, sliced, into a large non-reactive pot; add 1/4 cup salt and enough water to cover. Let stand for 2 hours; drain well. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups white vinegar, 2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon each celery seed and turmeric and 2 teaspoons mustard seeds to a boil; pour over the squash and onions. Let stand for 2 hours. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes; pack in hot sterilized jars and seal; process according to jar manufacturer’s directions. Makes about 3 pints.
LEMON CURD. In a medium saucepan beat 6 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 minutes. Slowly add 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks. Beat for an additional 1 minute. Mix in 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks. Cook over low heat until it looks smooth. Increase heat to medium and cook stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Do not allow mixture to boil. Remove curd from heat, stir in 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Transfer to jars or plastic containers with lids. Allow to cool in the refrigerator. It will thicken as it cools. Apply lids tightly. Prepared lemon curd can be frozen for up to 1 year without quality changes when thawed. To thaw, place container in the refrigerator for 24 hours before intended use. After thawing, consume within 4 weeks.
There you go—six ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Be sure to share your ideas in the comments below …