Top 7 DIY Edible Holiday Gifts

By Brandon Hernández | Last Updated December 15, 2017
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Local artisans share recipes for gift-able homemade edibles

The holidays can be a mixed bag. On one hand, you’ve got grandiose feasts, bright lights, cutesy decorations and good will towards men. On the other, you’ve got crowded malls, charge card abuse and the obligation of being nice to people you can’t stand the other 11 months of the year. But praise be to the reason for the season! There’s one saving grace: presents!

Nothing says I love you like the kind of present you can really sink your teeth into. But nobody’s a fan of the regifted fruitcake or the leftover box of candy canes that didn’t make it onto last year’s Christmas tree. So we reached into the goodie bags of some of our city’s most gifted and thoughtful culinary practitioners to provide you with some simple and delicious recipes for from-scratch treats that are sure to score you major points this holiday season. 


Ryan Johnston, Executive Chef

Whisknladle, La Jolla

Jams and compotes are a great gift because they are the gift that keeps on giving. I like making them because it’s something you can do with your whole family. When I was a kid, my grandmother had a cabin in upstate New York and we used to go and pick berries and then make them into jams to send to cousins and aunts and uncles during the holidays. I still love making jams and giving them to people.

Peach & Sage Compote

  • 4 cups sliced ripe peaches
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 8 sage leaves

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the liquid is thick and bubbly. Remove the sage and transfer the mixture to a blender and blend or transfer directly to small refrigerator-safe jars. The mixture will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

Jennifer Queen, Mixologist

Proper Gastropub, East Village

Making bitters is a simple, yet patient process. You need a bittering agent like gentian, quassia or even wormwood; the flavor of your choice (citrus, fruit or herbs); and alcohol with the highest proof you can find. Then you wait for the ingredients to macerate (like marinating … the alcohol breaks down the whole ingredients). The possibilities are endless fun.

Tart Cherry & Sage Bitters

  • 1 pound pitted cherries
  • 8–10 sage leaves
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 2 orange rinds
  • ¼ cup wood chips
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seed
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon white peppercorns
  • Bacardi 151 rum
  • Place all of the ingredients in a large Mason jar and pour in enough of the rum to cover. Seal the jar and let sit until the alcohol starts to break everything down and there’s noticeable sediment. Strain the liquid into a dropper bottle.

NOTE: A little goes a long way with bitters. One to two drops can change a cocktail entirely!



Tomato & Saffron Jam

Recipe by Todd Allison, Executive Chef Anthology, Little Italy  

Sweet & Spicy Habanero & Prickly Pear Hot Sauce

Recipe by Luca Banfi, Sous-Chef Tender Greens, Point Loma  


Recipe by Mark Kropczynski, Executive Chef US Grant Hotel, Downtown  
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