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Wild about plants: Herbal gift ideas

Dec 1st, 2014 | Category: Crafts

by Suzanne Jordan

Nothing shows you care more than a gift from the heart, made by your own hands. You can find cool packaging at craft, antique, and thrift stores. Let’s get busy in the kitchen with all-natural herbs, pure botanical oils, organic, and raw ingredients.herbal gift ideas web

We’ll start with the edibles and get into bath and body products.

Herbal jellies and syrups are tasty gateway treats to introduce herbal medicine to those who may be hesitant.

Try these combos:

Lavender/vanilla bean: 1/3 cup dried lavender flowers and a half of a vanilla bean, cut open. Scrape the seeds into the water, snip the bean into little pieces and add to the lavender.

Roasted dandelion root/ginger: 1 part roasted dandelion root, ¼ part ginger. This is a fabulous combo for gut health.

Oats/chamomile/lemon verbena: At the end of the day, a little calmness sure tastes good on a cracker!

Fennel/hawthorn/clove: The perfect tummy soother.

 

Herbal Jelly

You need 3 ½ cups herbal decoction, juice of 1 lemon (1/4 cup),                                                                                                                                            1 (1 3/4-ounces) box powdered pectin or 1 pouch (3-ounces) liquid pectin, and 4 cups sugar.

Pour 4 cups of water in a large saucepan, and add 1/3 cup of dried herbs. Bring to a boil, immediately turn down the heat to medium low, and simmer 15 minutes. Strain mixture into a deep kettle or pot, and compost the plant material.

Stir in lemon juice and pectin; continue stirring until the pectin is dissolved. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil; add sugar. When the jelly solution returns to a hard rolling boil, let it boil for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. After boiling, transfer the jelly into hot sterilized jars. Fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top, wipe any spilled jelly off the top, seat the lids and hand tighten the ring around them. Place in hot water bath and process for 5 minutes. Makes 5 1/2 pints.

 

Herbal Syrup

Super simple! Make a strong herbal decoction with dried herbs, using the guide above in the jelly recipe. After your decoction is finished simmering, strain, measure, and return to the rinsed out pot. Add twice the amount of honey to decoction (2 cups honey to 1 cup decoction), and gently heat until they are mixed well. This shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes. Put in decorative bottles, and store in the fridge. Herbal syrups keep for months! Herbal syrups add so much yumminess to pancakes and waffles, in tea, drizzled on granola, yogurt, even ice cream! The possibilities are endless.

 

Coconut Peppermint Patties

The ingredients needed are 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, ¼ cup herbal or plain honey, 10 drops peppermint essential oil, and dark or milk chocolate chips.

Put the top 3 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Test for consistency by taking a spoonful out, form into a ball, and flatten on the counter. If the mixture is too sticky, add more coconut until you get a fairly stiff consistency. Form into small balls, place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and flatten with your hand or a cup.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. With a spoon or spatula, gently remove a patty from the parchment paper, and dip it in the chocolate. Return it to the parchment paper. When all patties are covered, place the cookie sheet in the fridge until the chocolate is hardened. So. Good! I tend to eat more peppermint patties than I give, so if you’re like me, you might want to make a double batch. Just sayin’.

 

Fruit and Nut Bark

Ingredients needed are 1 package chocolate chips of choice, ¼ cup each raisins, chopped candied ginger, pistachios, walnuts, dried cranberries, etc., crushed candy cane, 5 drops lavender, peppermint, or orange essential oil, Kosher salt or Himalayan pink mineral salt (enough to sprinkle).

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. When melted, stir in essential oil of choice and pour into a parchment paper lined 11×7 baking dish. Sprinkle with your favorite dried fruit and nuts, a sprinkle or two of salt, and crushed candy cane. Allow to harden. Pull the bark out of the pan by the parchment paper, and break into pieces.

 

Lavender Bath

You’ll need 1 cup dried Lavender flowers, 2 cups oatmeal, ½ cup baking soda, and ½ teaspoon essential oil of choice.

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and grind until fine powder. Pour into a clean, airtight container. Pour into bath as you fill the tub, or put in a muslin bag and throw the bag in the bath. Use the muslin bag to gently exfoliate and soften your skin!

 

Lotion Bar

Use as a barrier before chopping down your Christmas tree, after working on the car, washing the dishes… you get the idea! And for those moments when you want to feel extra soft.

Ingredients needed are 8 oz. shea butter, 8 oz. cocoa butter, 7 oz. beeswax, 1 oz. jojoba oil or herbal oil of choice, and 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon essential oil of choice.

Melt beeswax, add shea and cocoa butter. Melt. Take off heat, add jojoba and essential oils. Pour into molds and let harden.

 

Body Scrub

Like salt scrubs, sugar scrubs are great for exfoliating the skin. However, sugar, unlike salt, produces glycolic acid. Glycolic acid, like the alpha hydroxyl acid found in many expensive beauty products, offers positive cosmetic results, and is reported to improve dry, thickened, sun-damaged, and problem-prone skin. It also reduces inflammation, promotes earlier removal of dry skin scales, and optimizes moisturization.

Ingredients are 3 cups sugar, 1 cup fine sea salt, 1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil or herbal oil of choice, 1 tbsp. essential oil of choice.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and add more or less of the evoo/herbal oil to your suit your preference. The mixture may seem dry at first, but wait a few hours and then add more oil if necessary.  The scrub should be moist, and not too much of the oil should be floating on top. Be careful when using your scrub in the shower, as the oil is slippery!

 

Fresh tree scent

Last, but not least: nothing says Christmas like the scent of a fresh cut tree! To get the scent without a real tree, fill a spray bottle with: 4 ounces water, alcohol or witch hazel, 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of an essential oil blend of 1 part spruce, 1 part fir, 1 part orange, and ½ part rosemary essential oils.

Shake and spray around your house, office, in your car, on wreaths, garlands, and even yourself to create an instant Christmas scent!

Happy holidays to each and every one of you! Feel free to contact me at Suzanne@cedarmountainherbs.com. Until next time, I leave you as always, Wild About Plants!

Suzanne Jordan is founding director of the Cedar Mountain Herb School in Mt. Vernon, Washington. www.cedarmountainherbs.com.

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