An edible gift can make someone feel loved in the way only delicious, homemade food can. They also leave no clutter behind, providing a welcome break from the sea of compulsively purchased consumer goods that's become synonymous with the holiday season. In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan.
As with any gift, it's important to know your audience when making and distributing homemade food. Don't give candied pecans to your cousin with a nut allergy, and if you're planning on sending Claire a jar of your homemade giardiniera, leave out the celery. If you'd like to make edible gifts for someone you know extremely well, you can add plenty of little personalised touches - such as copycat versions of their favourite snacks with a handwritten recipe booklet - to make it truly special. Last year's guide has five great, foolproof gift ideas, and we're back this year with even more, all of which you can make well ahead of time.
(A disclaimer: I do recommend some canned goods here. In the interest of safety, I've only suggested highly acidic things that are safe for water-bath canning. Still, you should read the USDA guide on safe home canning before getting started. You want your gifts to communicate love, affection and appreciation - not botulism.)
- Curds, Glorious Curds: I'll happily eat a whole jar of lemon curd by the spoonful, but I can see how it might strike some as more "ho-hum" than "classic". Swap key limes, cranberries, passion fruits, grapefruits or clementines for lemons and you have a delicious twist on a classic that's still acidic enough to be safely canned at home.
- Pickles and Relishes: There's no love so pure or so fierce as that between a Pickle Freak and their briny snacks. Slip a jar of homemade giardiniera, dilly beans, pickled fennel, or good ol' bread and butters in your favourite Pickle Freak's stocking and watch their eyes light up. If they're known to enjoy a pickleback or two, include a small bottle of nice whiskey for bonus points.
- Custom Spice Mixes: Throwing together a dry rub takes basically zero effort and produces a thoughtful, useful gift with a long shelf life. If you want to get more involved, why not make some from-scratch garam masala or curry powder for the devoted cook in your life?
- Candied Nuts: Homemade candied nuts have that addictive sweet-salty-crunchy-rich thing going on and are way harder to stop eating than they are to make. I've heard they keep for a month at room temperature, but can't eat them slowly enough to confirm.
- Homemade Brownie Mix: Combine the dry ingredients for these one-bowl cocoa brownies in a cute little jar, attach a recipe card, and rake in the compliments.
- Infused Honey: Just toss a few sprigs of herbs or fresh spices in honey, let it sit for five days, and strain into a clean jar; since it's honey, it will keep forever. (The Kitchn has a great honey-infusing guide here.) If you have access to fresh, local honey, definitely use it for this.
- Bespoke Liqueurs: Whether it's a lovely limoncello or not, homemade liqueurs feel fancy and really hit the spot. The we previously made some via sous vide, but you can make infusions without an immersion circulator, too - it just takes longer.
The holidays are all about spreading the love around, and for many of us, food is the best way to do that. I hope this list inspires you to cook up some delicious treats for the people you love - and if your family has an edible gift tradition I didn't mention, I want to hear all about it below.