Handmade Gifts From The Wild

Handmade gifts don’t need to be complicated to be appreciated. Here are three easy-to-make gifts that take one hour of hands-on time or less to create – just in time for the holidays!

Honey-Sweetened Huckleberry Jam. Credit: Raeanne O’Meara.
Honey-Sweetened Huckleberry Jam. Credit: Raeanne O’Meara.

Honey-Sweetened Huckleberry Jam

Traditional jams usually are filled with added sugar, to the point that it masks the flavour. This honey-sweetened jam allows the true flavour of huckleberries to shine.

Ingredients

4 cups huckleberries, pureed
1 cup honey
3 tbsp low sugar pectin

Sterilized jars

Method

Add berries, honey and low sugar pectin to a saucepan. While stirring constantly, bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. The jam will thickly coat a spoon when ready.

Ladle jam into sterilized jars, leaving a quarter inch of headspace. Place lids on jars and hand tighten, then process in a boiling water canner. The processing time depends on elevation; for half-pint or pint jars, process for five minutes at zero to 1,000 feet, 10 minutes at 1,001 to 6,000 feet, or 15 minutes above 6,000 feet.

Wild Berry Infused Vodka

1-part fresh or frozen wild berries (huckleberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
2-parts vodka

Wild Berry Infused Vodka. Credit: Raeanne O’Meara.
Wild Berry Infused Vodka. Credit: Raeanne O’Meara.

Do you love flavoured vodka, but not the added artificial ingredients? Making your own infused vodka is easy and is the perfect gift for those of legal drinking age.

The ratio to maintain when making infused vodkas is one-part berries to two-parts vodka. This makes it easy to scale up or down, depending on how large a batch you would like to make.

Muddle the berries at the bottom of the jar (if using frozen berries, allow to thaw prior to use). Add vodka to jar and cover. Place in a cool, dark location and shake periodically. Let flavours infuse for a minimum of two weeks. The longer the infusion period, the stronger the flavour. When you are ready to bottle, strain through a cheesecloth to remove the berries.

DIY Boreal Salves

DIY body care products are always a hit for gifts – full of nourishing benefits, and a short, easy-to-comprehend list of ingredients that you can feel good about putting on your skin. Just follow the two simple methods below! A great seasonal salve can be made with pine, fir and spruce needles.

Basic Infused Oil

1-part fresh herbs or plants (use half the amount for dried)
2-parts carrier oil

To make an “instant” infused oil, use the double boiler method. Add herbs and oil to the top of a double boiler, and heat for an hour over low heat. Stir constantly to ensure oil heats evenly. Let oil cool, and then strain through cheesecloth to remove all plant matter.

Basic Boreal Salve Recipe

1 cup infused oil
2 tbsp beeswax*
1/4 teaspoon vitamin E oil

Melt beeswax in the top of a double boiler. Add infused oil and once the wax and oil have melted together, add vitamin E oil. Stir to blend, then pour into sterilized jars – small mason jars will show off the beautiful colours of your salve. Allow the salve to completely cool before adding lids and labelling.

*the amount of beeswax can be increased or decreased to create the desired consistency.

Credit: Raeanne O’Meara.
Credit: Raeanne O’Meara.