7. Spice Rubs: For an edible gift that will last until summer, assemble a homemade spice rub (stored in a cool, dry place, rubs will keep for up to six months).
Here’s How: In a small bowl, combine your favorite dried spices (grind whole spices in a spice/coffee grinder first), and pour into a small jar or tin. For a mild blend, combine coriander seed, salt, dried tarragon, onion powder, dried oregano, and bay leaves. For bolder spice blends, try our Chicken Spice Rub or Beef Spice Rub. Or experiment with other spices, such as paprika, fennel seed, garlic powder, dried rosemary, cayenne pepper, and dried thyme to create a signature blend. Tie a tag to the jar with serving and preparation suggestions such as “Great for chicken and fish” or “Sprinkle on your salad for extra flavor.”
8. Scented Sachets: For a gift that keeps on giving, make potpourri sachets, which add a delicate scent to drawers and closets.
Here’s How: Tie whole spices, such as cardamom pods, broken cinnamon sticks, cloves, juniper berries, allspice, bay leaves, coriander, and star anise, in a cloth bundle with a ribbon, or sew them into a dainty pouch.
9. Flavorsome Sauces: Branch out from homemade jams and jellies (with so many high-quality store-bought options there’s less incentive to make your own) with rich and bold reductions.
Here’s How: Heat port or other sweet fortified wine or good-quality balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over medium-low heat until reduced by half. If the result is too tart, add a bit of sugar to taste. Cool to room temperature and pour into glass jars with tight-fitting lids. These delicious sauces can be served alongside cheese, as a topping for poached fruits, or poured over roasted meats. Reductions will keep, stored in the refrigerator, for up to a week.
10. Nuts with a Kick: Spiced nuts are perfect for nibbling on between meals, and the right combination of spices gives them a seasonal twist.
Here’s How: Toss plain unsalted nuts (one kind or a combination) with sugar, a pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little water (just enough to make the dry spices stick to the nuts). Spread the mixture out on a parchment paper–lined, rimmed sheet pan and toast in a 350°F oven until golden and aromatic, about 7 to 9 minutes. Use any baking spices you like—pumpkin pie spice is wonderful with pecans or hazelnuts, and cayenne pepper adds a kick to any nut mix. When the nuts have cooled completely, put them in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or a pretty, parchment paper–lined box.