Here are three recipes for homemade gifts from your kitchen to share with family and friends this holiday season. For a special touch, make your own gift jars!
To make easy, all-purpose sweet and colorful pickles, drain the contents of the following, reserving the juices, which you can combine in one container: 1 small jar each of mixed sweet pickles, kumquats in syrup, red maraschino cherries, and sweet gherkins, and 1 can of pineapple chunks. Mix the solids thoroughly, and spoon into clean decorative jars. Add enough of the mixed juices to cover the contents of each jar, and seal. Although they can safely be left unrefrigerated for several hours or even overnight, attach a colorful label advising that these pickles be stored in the refrigerator.
Vinegar should be made in sterilized glass jars or bottles, with metallic or plastic screw-on lids, caps, or corks. To sterilize empty jars, boil in water for 10 minutes. Also, sterilize lids in a boiling water bath or according to manufacturer's instructions. Vinegar should be labeled and dated, and stored in a cool, dark place for use within 2 months. Or, store it in the refrigerator and use within 6 to 8 months.
In a glass container, combine 1/4 cup of crushed raspberries with 1 quart of white distilled vinegar. Let sit overnight at room temperature. Strain through a fine sieve into a decorative bottle, and add several perfect whole raspberries. (Packaged frozen raspberries work fine and usually have plenty of whole as well as crushed berries.) Add a colorful tag recommending it to be used alone or combined with olive oil as a salad dressing.
Fiery Pepper Vinegar
Lace brightly colored hot peppers into decorative bottles. (If you have some that are too large to fit, quarter them lengthwise or cut them into strips.) To each bottle, add a few black peppercorns, a peeled garlic clove, and a small slice of fresh ginger root. Fill to the top with white vinegar. Seal the bottles, and store for at least a week in a dark place.