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Ideas for Home Made Holiday Presents in a Bottle

I am looking for holiday gift ideas! I have 4 pretty, blue, small neck bottles that hold about 16 ounces each. The photo is of the exact bottle, without the label of course!

I was thinking maybe a flavored olive oil or some type of vinaigrette, but am open to something more creative. I am trying to stay away from liquors as I am not 100% sure if it would be appropriate. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

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  1. It wouldn't be ready for this year, but you could brew your own soy sauce.

    1. I am making homemade vanilla. I work at Costco, so we have vanilla beans, and of course vodka, the only thing is, you would have needed to start it earlier You could still start and tell the recipient that it will not be fully ready till early next year.

      1. well, infused oil was going to be my first suggestion, but you could also do infused vinegar...or on the sweeter end of the spectrum, flavored simple syrup or homemade pomegranate molasses.

        1. I have in the past boiled down good balsamic vinegar in order to make more of a syrup; it went over really well, but man did I have the place smelling of vinegar! This sort of thing is good (in a vinaigrette if you'd like) drizzled on a bitter salad that also has acidic and nutty ingredients, or even spooned on vanilla ice cream.

          You could mull non-alcoholic cider and rebottle it -- it'll keep a little while in the fridge, but you wouldn't want to get that one underway until closer to gift-time.

          1. How about home made cordials or digestif? There were some recipes on chow last year.

            1. 16 ounces is pretty much. I'd be inclined to do a vinegar rather than an oil because I'd worry a little about oils spoiling.

              How about lemongrass vinegar for something kind of different: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

              (I've been thinking about ways to use lemongrass these days and this one sounds good to me.)

              4 Replies
              1. re: karykat

                I made a ginger simple syrup that was hugely popular as an addition to cocktails, tea, and as a way to dress fruit for dessert. I'm sure there are many more uses. I used the last of it in a melon liqueur that is currently not yet ready but smells like it could be pretty good. It's easy to make, just brew a large quantity of ginger in your basic simple syrup, allowing it to simmer till it takes on a caramel color.

                I thought I got the recipe from Punk Domestics, but I can't seem to find it now. Here's a recipe from Chow:

                1. re: bernalgirl

                  This sounds good and versatile. But I'm wondering why it gets amber colored. Is the sugar caramelizing? Or is that coming from the ginger?

                  1. re: karykat

                    I don't know. It reduces quite a bit and I use raw sugar, so it could be any of those. But when it was "ready" it was darker than when it started.

                  2. re: bernalgirl

                    That reminds me of a blackberry-ginger syrup I've made a number of times for summer drinks: http://www.shutterbean.com/blackberry...

                    (The actual drink itself is just fantastic, but the syrup is totally giftable! I would add lemon juice directly in that case, because otherwise it may be a titch too sweet. Thanks for the reminder, bernalgirl :)

                2. Interesting; I have a half of a case of the same bottles for which I used two to make infused vodka. I was thinking about using the leftover bottles for something else this year. The problem is that 16 oz is a lot for most things except perhaps vinaigrettes and maybe barbecue sauce.

                  The ginger simple sryup is also a neat idea and would be a great way to spice of dark and stormies which I love during winter.

                  1. If time (to infuse) is a problem don't restrict yourself to liquids -- smoked/flavored salts or nice peppercorns would work in a bottle too. All you need is a funnel or rolled-up sheet of paper. Use stuff that will pour readily, not powders like cinnamon.

                    1. Fill them with inexpensive (dark) rum and a vanilla bean. It won't be ready to use this year, but you could make labels with something like "Keep the holiday flavors coming: use this in February 2012 or later".

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: travelerjjm

                        That's a great idea. A wonderful gift.

                      2. no ones said limoncello yet? well then thats my suggestion for sure.

                        edit: just saw the liquor thing. nvm

                        1. people love to receive home made vinaigrettes. i included a few recipes on this thread:

                          it is a BIG thread, so maybe easiest to scroll down til you get to my name; maybe midway or so in the thread.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            just use the "word search" function (Command + f on a Mac, or Ctrl + f on a PC) and type in the word you're looking for. it's more efficient & much easier on the eyes than scrolling through long threads.

                            oh, and it works on any web page, not just here on CH ;)

                          2. Home-made chocolate syrup or chai tea syrup (probably better for those who like coffee shop chai rather than the real deal)

                            1. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas! I think I am leaning towards a ginger syrup. It sounds festive, creative, and easy enough. Now to make a label....

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: oamter

                                I just made a ginger simple syrup that was part of a recipe for a Ginger Champagne Cocktail. It does include some vodka, which made it more like a ginger liqueur. but it was quite tasty.

                                It called for 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sliced ginger, simmered for 10 minutes, then taken off the heat and 1/2 cup of vodka added. I refrigerated it overnight and removed the ginger the next day.

                                it was lovely topped off with some sparkling wine. (The recipe called for placing chopped crystalised ginger in the glass first.)

                                1. re: oamter

                                  you might also want to include a little card that offers some serving/usage ideas. just punch a hole in the corner and tie it to the neck of the bottle with a ribbon (or loop the ribbon through the metal cage that holds the cap in place).

                                  1. re: oamter

                                    Ginger syrup is great! I ended up with some as a byproduct of making candied ginger for a Thanksgiving pie and I've enjoyed it even more than the pie!

                                    1. re: oamter

                                      The one thing I would say is that 16 ounces is a lot. It's a lot to make (a LOT of ginger) and a lot to use.

                                      If you want to go with this idea I'd think about smaller bottles. You can get smaller swingtop bottles from Specialty Bottles on-line or probably just in stores.

                                    2. Along the ginger syrup line except different, a spiced syrup or citrus syrup.

                                      Spiced: 50-50 sugar and water, add a cinnamon stick, some cloves, whole allspice, ginger if you'd like.

                                      Citrus: 2 parts juice, 2 parts sugar, 1/2 part water, add spice if you'd like. I like blood orange + cardamom, pink grapefruit + cardamom, orange + ginger/star anise/cardamom. I guess I like cardamom!

                                      For either, simply simmer ~10 minutes, cool, strain. Precise proportions aren't actually important, it's a matter of more or less sweet and more or less syrupy. These are great in cocktails, or with sparkling wine, or with sparkling water for soda.

                                      1. if "jar" is okay, i'd toss in the suggestion for pancake & waffle mix. or layered up cookies in a jar. (did this for a girlfriend's bridal shower last year... girls really liked.)

                                        i'd also maybe consider pasta sauce - vodka or tomato or whatever...
                                        or... a homemade condiment pack with ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, etc.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Emme

                                          if "jar" is okay
                                          see the photo in the OP - she specifically wants to use those.

                                            1. re: Emme

                                              blame it on the planets - Mercury's in retrograde again ;)

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                i know! i blamed my error in using too much butter in a tart crust yesterday on that too...