I am fresh off co-hosting a fantastic edible gifting event with Middleberg Nutrition. We made spicy nuts, fermented cucumbers for pickles, and infused oils, all while dispelling nutrition myths and discussing how to stay healthy this holiday season. Munchies were provided by Provenance Meals, Woodbridge, and Indie Fresh, and guests received a major swag bag featuring goodies from Brooklyn Roasting Company, Health Warrior, Siggis, Sweetgreen, Simply Gum, Ginny Bakes, and Ball Mason Jars. In the spirt of gifting and giving, I am sharing some of the creative ideas which we discussed in our class. Go the extra mile this holiday season and tell someone you care about to eat their gift!
Making an edible gift is not only economical, but is also a creative way to show your recipient that you truly care and took the time and energy to create something thoughtful. For your nut loving friends, look no further than maple chipotle nuts, my go-to gift for friends and family. For a more "high brow" audience, consider an infused oil which can be used for salad dressings, marinades, pastas, grains, or on various proteins. For ferment fans, consider a batch of pickles. Play around with brining ingredients to custom create the ideal batch for your lucky recipient.
You can take your gift making skills up a notch with custom labels from Pink Apple Ink. Tie your tags with rustic jute or festive ribbon from your favorite crafting store.
Maple Chipotle Nuts
Makes 7 1/2 cups
- 2 tbsps melted coconut oil
- 3 cups raw unsalted cashews
- 2 cups raw unsalted walnut halves
- 2 cups raw unsalted pecan halves
- 1/2 cup whole almonds
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsps maple sugar or coconut sugar
- 6 tbsps freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tbsp chipotle powder
- 1/2 tsp dried or fresh lemon peel (optional)
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 4 tbsps minced fresh rosemary leaves
- Sea salt to taste (i am really into this brand)
- Combine nuts, oil, maple syrup, sugar, juice, and spices on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Toss to combine. Top with two tablespoons minced rosemary and a light dusting of salt. Spread nuts out evenly and roast at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
- Stir nuts every 10 minutes. Remove from oven, finish with remaining rosemary, and toss again. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Nuts can be stored in airtight containers or packaged in mason jars or small bags.
If placing in a mason jar, I like to stuff a few rosemary leaves on the top for color contrast and added aroma.
Rosemary and Thyme Infused Oil
makes 2 cups
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 1 bunch thyme
- Warm the herbs and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes. Allow the oil to simmer lightly, but do not boil.
- Remove from heat and let oil cool completely.
- Strain the infused oil mixture into bottles. (I used swing top glass bottles from here.)
- Consider adding a fresh sprig of rosemary or thyme into the bottle or you can repurpose the cooked herbs for presentation purposes. Adding the herbs will result in slightly cloudier oil.
Be sure to tell your recipient:
- To keep their flavored oils refrigerated to avoid bacterial growth.
- Infused oils last about one month when stored properly.
- Allow flavored oils to sit out at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes before each use.
- Do not use flavored oils for deep-frying.
Play around and infuse your oil with other herbs or spices. My next batch will be with chili peppers.
Makes 1 Qt
- 1/4 cup sea salt, iodine-free
- 1 qt filtered water
- 1 1/2 lbs Kirby or pickling cucumbers, about 4 inches long. (Depending on size, you can leave cucumbers whole or slice into spears.)
- 2 tsps black peppercorns
- 1 tsp dill seeds
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- optional spices: fennel seeds, chili flakes, cumin seeds, fennel fronds
- Combine salt and water in a pitcher or large bowl and stir until salt is dissolved. Rinse cucumbers and cut off any end stems.
- Place peppercorns, dried dill seed, dried dill, garlic, mustard seeds, fresh dill, and any other additional spices and herbs into a clean half gallon jar. Add cucumbers and pour in the brine, ensuring that the cucumbers are covered completely. Leave 1 inch of space at the top of the jar. Cover the jar tightly and let it stand at room temperature in a dry place.
- Check the fermentation every day. Fermentation has started when bubbles start rising to the top of the jar. Once a day, open the jar and release gases produced during fermentation. If any mold or scum has formed on the top, simply skim it off.
- The fermentation process is complete when the pickles taste sour and bubbles have stopped raising. This takes approximately 6 to 7 days. Once fermentation is complete, place jar in refrigerator and store for up to 2 months.
Recipe is lightly modified from The Natural Gourmet Institute
Get creative and mix up the brine, depending on your recipient. Add extra garlic for garlic lovers or kick it up with chili flakes for those who like it spicy.