For Christmas gifts that are original, thoughtful, inexpensive and guaranteed to be appreciated, you can not really go past a home-made food hamper. A couple of hours spent in the kitchen is far preferable to spending the same time pounding the packed pavements, and most things can be made in bulk which means you can churn out gifts for all your friends and family surprisingly quickly. It's possible to get very reasonably priced baskets, bowls and tugs from places like Ikea or your local hardware store; and many are available to buy online. Here, UKTV Food has filled together a list of our favorite recipes, along with some tips on packing the perfect foody hamper.
Chutneys, pickles and preserves
Chutneys and pickles can be enjoyed with British cheeses, cold meats and home-made pork pies. They'll also make a classic match with a spicy Indian curry and rice; or as a dip with poppadums, samosas or onion bhajis. Preserves are most often found on the breakfast table and are a great way of making use of windfall fruit. It's best to use a heavy duty preserving pan if you have one, otherwise a heavy-based saucepan will do the trick. Remember to sterilize the jam jars with boiling water before securing with waxed discs and lids. Stored this way they can be kept for up to six months.
Cakes, biscuits and other sweets
The simplest way to wrap your home-made cakes and biscuits is in clear cellophane; and if you color-theme the ribbons and cards to match the style of your hamper, cellophane goes with any look from traditional to contemporary.
If you're going to include a bottle or two of wine in your hamper, make sure you separately pack some mulling spices. You can buy these ready-made or make them up yourself by bundling up mixes of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coriander and cardamom; the choice of spices is up to you. Include a hand-written recipe with the spices so the recipient knows how to use them. Recipes vary very around the world, but the basic idea is to steep the spices in the wine over a low heat for around 15 minutes or so (including the wine never boils). You can give the wine a bit of a kick by adding some brandy; some recipes also call for orange peel or juice to be included.
For a hamper the whole family can enjoy, include a bottle of sparkling wine for mum and dad, and something non-alcoholic and fizzy for the kids. Pack it all up in a colorful plastic trug that can be used for toy storage.
Include things like:
- Rhubarb chutney
- Preserved apples and pears in syrup
- Tomato ketchup
- Coconut ice
- Mini Christmas cakes
- Spiced cranberry and orange relish
Place the goodies onto a large shallow bowl or into a wine cooler and wrap in cellophane. Include:
- Sophie Grigson's cheese biscuits
- Rachel Allen's almond brittles
- Marinated mixed olives
- Parmesan and rosemary wafers
- Jane Asher's last minute Christmas cake
Great for friends who love to spend time in the kitchen. Put the goodies into a large serving bowl or place on a chopping board and wrap in a tablecloth.
Foody gifts include:
- Chilli oil
- James Martin's biscotti
- Carrot jam
- Ainsley Harriott's onion marmalade
- Five spice salt
- Fig jam
If your friend is planning a holiday, include a book or travel diary in the hamper. If you're the lucky one who's been traveling, include some foody photos for inspiration.
- Preserved lemons
- Latvian gingerbread cookies
- Goong Goong's pickle
- Sicilian dressed olives
- Biscotti de mandorli
- Chocolate panforte
Pack the hamper into a wicker basket for a traditional feel, or bring it up to date in a colorful enamel bread bowl.
- English ale mustard
- Delia Smith's orange marmalade
- Nigel Slater's Christmas pudding
- Spiced quinces
To get all these recipes or search for more than 9,000 others, visit UKTV Food .