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Flavorful Gifts for the Holidays

Katy G. Wilkens | Dec 4, 2017, 1:40 p.m.

The holidays can be a great time to get back to basics. Gifts of homemade foods are a real treat for everyone, and these unusual accompaniments will add flavor to meals without adding salt, which we all can afford to cut.

Ginger-Mint Jelly

1½ cups mint leaves

1 inch fresh ginger root

2¼ cups water

3½ cups sugar

1 package Certo liquid fruit pectin

6 one-pint canning jars and lids

Chop mint and ginger. Boil in water for 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth. Add few drops of green food color. You should have 1¾ cups of infusion. Add water or remove liquid if needed. Add sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil. Add pectin. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into hot clean glass jars. Screw on hot clean lids. Invert jars for 5 minutes, then turn right side up. Allow to cool. May take a few days to set.

Makes a great hostess gift tied with a sprig of holly.

Jalapeno Jelly

6 jalapeño peppers, seeded

2 red peppers, seeded

1½ cups cider vinegar

7 cups sugar

1 package Certo fruit pectin

8 half-pint canning jars and lids

Use gloves when working with jalapenos. Chop jalapenos and red peppers together, finely in food processor. Don’t breathe over the bowl. Put in 4-quart saucepan. Add cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil. Add pectin. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into hot clean glass jars. Screw on hot clean lids. Invert jars for five minutes, then turn right side up. Allow to cool. May take a few days to set.

This jelly is great to spread on low-salt crackers with cream cheese or used as a basting sauce for chicken. It also makes a nice gift, since you will have several jars. Tie a few dried chilies onto the jar with raffia.

Fruit-Flavored Vinegar

1/2 cup raspberries, blackberries, plums, cranberries, kiwi, tangerines or other fruit

1 quart white vinegar

Pour out about ½ cup of vinegar. Reserve for another use. Drop chopped fruit into neck of the bottle. Recap. Let sit 2 weeks. Strain vinegar through cheesecloth. Return it to bottle. Enjoy!

Fruit vinegars are great to mix with oil for a salad dressing, or sprinkle over hot vegetables to give a tang. They can also be used as a marinade for added flavor and tenderness. Save old salad dressing bottles, soak off labels, add fruit vinegar and make your own pretty label. You have a gourmet gift!

The information in this column is meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

[Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. A recipient of the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award from the National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition, she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at www.nwkidney.org.]

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