Rosemary is a delightful herb with a pine-like scent and woodsy flavor that just seems to evoke the holidays. While it’s useful year-round, rosemary can be especially useful during the winter holiday season. It can be used for decoration, cooking, and making some thoughtful gifts.
Here are just a few of our favorite ideas:
Rosemary Christmas Tree
This option takes some planning but due to the woody nature of the rosemary plant, it can make a wonderful small Christmas tree. Start your rosemary plants in a 10-inch or 12-inch pot and throughout the growing season keep it trimmed into a conical tree shape. (Use those tasty trimmings in your cooking). Prune about every 4 to 6 weeks until just before the first frost when rosemary growth tends to slow.
To keep your rosemary healthy through the holidays you’ll want to try to replicate its natural Mediterranean climate by keeping it inside in the sunniest spot when the temperature is below 30 degrees Fahrenheit or frost is expected, and put it outside when temps are above 60 degrees F.
Welcome your holiday guests with a rosemary wreath on your front door. Cut long sprigs of fresh rosemary and soak them in water for about 20 minutes. This will remove any bugs and dust and help the sprigs be pliable. Remove the sprigs from the water and allow them to dry on paper towels until they are dry to the touch. Wrap small bundles of the rosemary around a wire wreath frame with floral wire. Add other flowers, plants, or decorations as you go. Your rosemary wreath will last a long time, especially if you can put it in an area where it won’t get bumped. Tiny rosemary wreaths make great package decorations as well.
Do you need a last-minute hostess gift for that holiday party? Why not whip up some rosemary-infused oil in a pretty container?
- 1 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup of rosemary leaves
Rinse the rosemary sprigs in water and allow them to dry completely, then remove them from the woody stem. Use a rolling pin or the back of a spoon to slightly bruise the leaves to release their natural oils to better infuse the olive oil.
In a saucepan, warm the oil and rosemary leaves on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, making sure the mixture never simmers. Turn off the heat and allow the oil to infuse for at least an hour. The longer you allow the oil to infuse the more intense the rosemary flavor will be.
Strain the mixture into a pretty glass bottle or jar that you can seal tightly. Throw in a fresh sprig of rosemary for attractiveness. Oil will keep for 2-3 months in a cool, dry cupboard or 6 months in the refrigerator.
Rosemary oil can be used for rubbing on meats, drizzling on salads, or as a bread dip.
Rosemary Sea Salt
Another thoughtful hostess gift is a decorated jar filled with rosemary sea salt.
- 3 cups of sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 cup of fresh, clean rosemary leaves
Simply mix the rosemary leaves in the salt and store them in a jar for about 2 weeks before using.
Rosemary salt is great for dry aging beef before roasting or as a general seasoning.
Rosemary Body Scrub
Create a handmade gift of a Rosemary Salt Scrub, which is great for exfoliating and soothing dry winter skin. This recipe has the added benefit of using products you probably already have in your pantry rather than expensive essential oils.
- 1 cup of salt (regular salt, kosher salt, or Epsom salt will work)
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon of rosemary leaves removed from the stem
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
Add orange zest, rosemary, and salt to a food processor and pulse a couple of times until the rosemary is finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse a couple more times to combine. Store the scrub in an airtight container. To use, wet skin with warm water and then scrub gently with the salt scrub. Rinse completely and pat dry.
You can easily change this recipe to use other ingredients like lemon or lime zest, lavender or chamomile, and walnut or grapeseed oil.
Creating holiday cheer from your herb garden and pantry is easy and satisfying. Because one rosemary plant can grow up to four feet tall and wide it can provide plenty of sprigs for all of your holiday projects.