During my childhood, my parents had a friend who gave the most incredible holiday treat bags each year. She always included frosted sugar cookies, homemade caramels, chocolate candies and giant bags of deeply roasted Chex Mix. We looked forward to Eleanor’s delivery every year. Since I reached adulthood, I’ve tried to establish a similar tradition of edible gifts for my family and close friends. Though the list changes each year, the recipes that follow are some of my current favorites for holiday giving. —Marisa McClellan, author of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
See the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for more gift ideas »
4 Great Fruit Ketchups
Ketchup doesn’t have to start and end with tomatoes. Savory-sweet ketchups based on other ingredients are an unexpected addition to the table—and a great way to preserve summer fruit for months to come.
After simmering clementines in simple syrup, you end up with pockets of sweet, tender fruit suspended in a bright, slightly tart liquid. They make the perfect gift for cocktail lovers and home bakers.
Ginger Curry Candied Almonds
Sweet, salty and just a little spicy, these glazed almonds are a popular addition to holiday gift baskets and party spreads. Always make more than you think you’ll need as it’s hard to resist snacking on them when they’re still warm.
Hand-Chopped Garlic Herb Salt
If your mother or grandmother is still using dried and granulated garlic instead of fresh, make them a batch of this hand-chopped garlic herb salt. It’s the perfect gateway to the good stuff and will elevate their cooking immediately. Thanks to Sally Schneider and A Splendid Table for the introduction to this lovely seasoning.
Persimmons come in two varieties. There’s the Hachiya, which can only be eaten when the flesh is incredibly ripe and runny, and the Fuyu, which can be eaten either firm or soft. You want to seek out firm Fuyu persimmons for this recipe (they are short and squat, with a flat underside), as they give the best texture to the finished chutney.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is one of those things that seems mysterious and magical, but is actually ridiculously simple to make at home. Order a pound of Grade B vanilla beans from an online seller and half your work is done. Split the beans, plunge them into booze and time does the rest.