Decorated Jars And Bottles
Pretty glass jars can be found in most kitchen shops and you could decorate any size or shape to use with biscuits or home made sweets. The jar or bottle is a gift in itself and can be used long after the contents have been eaten. For fruit in syrup or alcohol, it is best to use a kilner jar with a secure lid and for flavoured oils use a bottle with a secure lid.
Glass paints and gutta are available from most art or craft shops in a good variety of colours.
The gutta comes in a small tube which you can use like a tiny icing bag to squeeze the paste onto the glass in fine lines.
1. Decide what you're going to draw on the jar or bottle - something simple works best, perhaps some stars or Christmas trees, and draw the outline on the jar with the gutta. When the gutta is dry it will act as a barrier for the paint, so make sure you don't leave any gaps. The motifs can be filled in with the glass paints.
2. When the paint is dry, you can fill the jar with delicious Apricots In Brandy (see recipe below)
3. Finally copy the recipe onto notepaper, put it in a small envelope. For a really professional finish you could copy a tiny version of you motif onto the front of the envelope or even decorate your notepaper in the same way. Punch a hole in the corner of the envelope and tie it around the jar or bottle with some Christmas ribbon.
Apricots in Brandy
Fruits in liqor are a good store-cupboard standby for an instant dessert and also make a delightful gift for family and friends.
Preparation time: 15 minutes+ overnight soaking+ 3 weeks storage
You will need a half-litre kilner jar (available from most hardware stores)
Tip: To sterilise the jar, wash in hot soapy water, then rinse thoroughly in very hot water and drain.
Put the jar onto a baking sheet and place in an oven preheated to Gas Mark 3/electric oven 140C/fan oven 120F for 10 minutes, then remove and cover with a clean tea towel until ready to use.
1. Soak the apricots in 700ml (18fl oz) water with the orange juice overnight.
2. Drain the liquid from the apricots and measure 300ml (1/2 pint) into a saucepan. Arrange the apricots in a sterilised jar.
3. Make a light syrup by dissolving the sugar in the drained liquid. Bring to the boil for 2 minutes, then cool.
4. Add the brandy to the syrup and pour over the fruit, making sure that all the fruit is covered.
5. Seal, cool and store in a cool place for 3 weeks before using.
Freezing not recommended.
Recipe and craft instructions courtesy of Women's Institute Complete Christmas, Food And Crafts For A Perfect Christmas by Sian Cook, Margaret Williams and Anne Griffiths. Published by Simon and Schuster Ltd. Available from all good book stores.