DIY Mulling Spices – Homemade Christmas Gift Idea with Printable Labels

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Make your own mulling spices in a jar to give as homemade Christmas gifts to co-workers, friends and family. These also make lovely hostess gifts and favors as you can make up several jars at one time.

DIY Homemade Christmas Gift - Mulling Spices in a Jar with Printable Labels

To get started you’ll need a clean empty spice jar or a small mason jar, paint chip samples or decorative papers, washi tape, bakers twine or ribbon, mulling spice ingredients (below), markers (optional), your printer, scissors and a blank sticker label sheet. For this project I recycled an empty spice jar by removing the labels and then washing off the glue with hot water, dish soap and some steel wool. I also used organic spices from Mountain Rose Herbs for my ingredients for this project.

Mulling Spices for Homemade Apple Cider and Scenting Your Home

Mulling Spice Mix Jar Ingredients:

(Makes one jar)

six whole sweet (true) cinnamon sticks (cut to fit inside your jar if applicable)
one teaspoon whole black peppercorns
twelve whole cardamon (anise star) pods
twelve whole allspice
one teaspoon whole cloves

DIY Mulling Spices Jar Mix

Directions: Start by combining all ingredients in your spice jar. If your cinnamon sticks are too tall for the jar, cut to fit and fill the jar with them first. Then add remaining spices to the jar. Cap tightly.

Print and color your mulling spice jar labels

Now print your mulling spice jar labels out onto a blank sticker label sheet. These labels are in black and white so you don’t have to waste color toner. You can leave the labels black and white or color them with permanent non-toxic markers. Cut out labels by cutting just inside the gray line. Set labels aside if you’d like to decorate your jars further. Otherwise, simply label your jars. The labels contain instructions for using the jar of mulling spices to scent one’s home as well as to make spiced cider! (Download mulling spice jar labels here.)

Decorative DIY Mulling Spices Jar Gift Mix - Recipe and Christmas Gift Idea

You can decorate your jar however you like. What I did was cut two paint chips into sizes that would fit the front of the jar. (I happened to have these on hand as I’m painting the bathroom.) However, you could also use decorative scrapbooking papers or colored card stock. I placed the largest paint chip on the front of the jar and then wrapped washi tape over the chip and around the jar. I repeated with a second, smaller sized paint chip and a different patterned washi tape. Once I had finished wrapping the washi tape around the jar, I then applied the instruction label to the back of the jar over the tape where it overlapped on the back side.

DIY Handmade Christmas Gift Idea - Mulling Spices in a Jar

Finally I added some pink and white baker’s twine to the top of the jar. I tied the ends of the twine into knots so they would not unravel, wrapped it around the mouth of the jar several time, then tied it into a bow and double knotted it. Finally place the jar in a small box with several fresh oranges – of which the peels will be used with the spices for cider or a home fragrance – and gift!

DIY Mulling Spices in a Jar - Homemade Christmas Gift Idea - Great as Handmade Hostess Gifts and Favors

Directions for a Home Fragrance: Place spices and rinds from one orange in 8 cups of water on stove top, bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer 3-4 hours.

Directions for Spiced Cider: Bring one Gallon apple cider, two quarts cranberry juice cocktail, rinds from one orange and spices to a boil in a dutch oven. Partially cover and reduce heat to a simmer for a half hour.

For more great Christmas gift ideas, be sure to check out my Handmade Holiday Gift Guides! I also have a collection of DIY Gift Ideas, DIY Christmas Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas and DIY Gift Wrap Ideas to keep you covered this holiday season!

Cooking and Baking with Mace – The Vintage Spice You’ve Never Tried But Should

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Recently I read what I thought to be a rather interesting article on Etsy’s blog titled The Historic Spice Cupboard. It contained some really neat information on vintage spices – rather the spices our great and great great grandparents probably used – in cooking and baking. Some of the spices are still used today, while others are a lot less common. For example, mace, is not a spice I had ever heard of.
Cooking with spices - Mace(Photo Source: theKitchn)

I’ve always thought of mace as pepper spray so I was a little confused at first. But as it turns out, mace is a very close relative of nutmeg. Mace is actually the red membrane that surrounds the nutmeg seed. It’s very similar to the taste of nutmeg, but rather has a more red pepper reminiscent heat. It was very common in the 18th and 19th centuries, but has since fallen by the way side. Like nutmeg, it can be used in baking. However it is also served well in savory dishes for flavoring meats, stews, curries, savory sauces, and even homemade pickles. You can also use it in teas, tinctures and beverages.

Additionally, it’s believed that mace has an antioxidant effect in the liver, helping it conserve glutathione and increasing protection against free radicals. theKitchn has additional information on this amazing vintage spice. You can also find out more information on mace from Mountain Rose Herbs including both contemporary and folklore info.

If you want to try mace, be sure to buy it from a reputable source that guarantees that the powder is not made from previously BWP (broken-wormy-punky) nuts. It’s also better not to use an irradiated product which breaks down the fatty acids that contain the essential oils that give it aroma and flavor. Mountain Rose Herbs is great place to buy both whole and ground organic mace. In fact, I have it on my next shopping list of things to buy from them since it’s so versatile and can be used in so many different types of recipes. I’ve also found it to be a common ingredient in many Indian dishes.

Following are just a few of the many recipes I’ve found that can be made with mace:

Have you ever cooked with mace?

DIY Magnetic Spice Jars – For Organizing and Freeing Up Counter Space

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We don’t have a lot of counter space in my new kitchen. And the cabinets we have are small. Not to mention our kitchen isn’t exactly a modern one – after all, the house we are renting is over a hundred years old. So counter space is a commodity. But with a boyfriend who likes to cook, spice jars can quickly clutter what counter space there is.

I have long loved the idea of magnetic spice tins and had planned to craft some for our new space. However, after really digging into reviews, I found that many of the tins don’t seal tightly which has led to issues with the herbs staying as fresh as possible. There were also stories of sea salt ending up in solid blocks in magnetic tins. Unable to find tins that had great reviews for this purpose, I decided to instead use the original jars my spices came in – or buy empty glass jars with screw tops – and instead make them magnetic.

This is what I started with. Spice jars lined up on the counter. I went ahead and bought some basic spices in jars just to get started, but I’ll be refilling these with bulk spices and herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs so I can buy organic and save money.
I then made new labels for my jars just for fun. Of course, new labels are optional. But they can be changed from time to time. You can either decoupage labels or make your own. I made my own labels by hand drawing the type of herb or spice onto whole sticker label sheets I purchased in bulk from Onlinelabels.com. I used a ruler to mark how high on the sticker paper the labels should be then drew my images and wording within that section with permanent Bic Markers.
The existing labels I could get off of my spice jars I peeled off. The ones that wouldn’t come off easily I left on. I then removed the backing from the sticking paper.
And adhered my new labels to the jars over the old ones.
I then took some E6000 Glue to affix two 25 Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets to the back of the jar. (I bought my glue and magnets from Candy Tiles on Etsy.)
And then allowed the glue to dry completely.
Once the glue dried all the way, I was able to place my herbs and spices on the side of the fridge for easy access and clear up some counter space. Alternately, you could also hang a spice tin wall base on a wall in an area you’d like to store your spice jars.

Now everything is right where we need it and we can easily add more jars to the side of the fridge as our spice and herb collection grows.

What types of things have you done in your kitchen to organize and save space?

Infuse a little love. Recipes for infusing vodka, sugar, and water for entertaining, gifting, or just enjoying.

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infusion: an infusion is the outcome of steeping plants with desired chemical compounds and/or flavors in water or oil. Source: wikipedia
Water. Oil. Alchohol? Sugar? Lately I’ve been infatuated with recipes for infusions. After discovering a fun recipe for vodka infusion over at The Backyard Bartender, I went on the hunt for more recipes you can create just by mixing a little of this with a little of that. Here are some of my favorites.
1.) Adventures in Vodkaland. Infusing vodkas in a simple process and certainly easier than making moonshine. Not to mention legal. All you need is a great vodka – who wants a hangover, right? – an airtight jar, some edible herbs, fruits, veggies and spices, and time. The Backyard Bartender offers several infusion recipes. Combos include Vanilla Bean + Cardamom, Celery + Bay Leaf, and Fennel + Lemon. While not all of her ideas were entirely successful, it’s really the fun of coming up with your own recipes then trying them out on your friends.
For more vodka infusion recipes ideas, visit Taylor Takes a Taste. There are recipes for tried and true Bubble Gum Vodka and Limencello as well as new test recipes for combinations like Pineapple + Red Pepper, Honeydew + Cucumber, and Cranberry + Orange + Nutmeg.
2.) Inviting Waters. If alcohol’s not quite up your alley, try making infused water instead. Martha Stewart recommends using rosemary sprigs, lime, and orange zest for a citrus-rosemary water. Or combine sliced ginger, cucumber, and mint for another refreshing alternative.
Donna Hay suggests flavoring your water with green apple and mint leaves, raspberries, or lemongrass and pieces of ginger as another tasty option.
 
3.) Make: Infused Sugars. Issue 3 of Joie Magazine offers some great ideas for making your own infused sugars on page 28 along with presentation ideas for those of you who love to give handmade gifts.
 
You can also grab ideas for scented sugars from Martha Stewart and a recipe for Vanilla Infused Sugar from Soap Deli News.
 
Sugar not quite your thing or just looking for a twist from the obvious? Style Me Pretty offers a diy for tangerine flavored sea salt. Sea salt with some zest from tangerines and lemons is a great way to finish off a fish or poultry dish.
Do you have a favorite infusion combo you like to add to your cooking? Please share!

Make Infused Sugars for a Little Spice to Everyday Life

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Sweeten up your culinary style by creating your own infused sugars. Sprinkle them on fresh baked cookies and pies or use them in place of plain sugar in coffees and teas!
Vanilla Sugar

Here’s a recipe for making vanilla infused sugar. Use more or less vanilla to taste. Click here for the recipe. Also give orange and lemon infused sugars a go by adding the dried zest from three fruits to two cups of your sugar of choice, then grind together in a food processor. Get creative with a variety of other herbs and spices as well. Try adding not just vanilla  bean pods but whole cloves,  star anise, cardamon pods, lavender buds, fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks, crystallized ginger, fresh rosemary, fresh mint, and even organic rose buds to create your own unique blends. Layer these tasty options with your sugar and allow to infuse for at least one week before use, shaking jar daily to insure a thorough infusion. Store in pint jars for future use or for gift giving.