You can make right now with simple ingredients you've got on hand
Herbal sachets and eye pillows: these can be as easy as simple muslin drawstring bags, or if you are a bit of sewer like us – from your lovely fabric stash. Eye pillows should be about 3” wide by 8” long, while sachets can be any size. Sachets can be used in cars (especially good for those with long and stressful commutes), linen closets, tucked into a pillow, or anywhere a bit of herbal fragrance is needed or even in the bath. Bath Sachet – use a muslin, cheesecloth or plain cotton fabric bag or (a rather large infusion); can be reused; tired travelers will find this relaxing and soothing.
Herbs to use: lavender (soothing, relaxing, and slightly floral; it also is a good pest deterrent), mint (cool, refreshing scent; cleansing; help keeps mice away), chamomile (soothing and calming, said to help people fall asleep; a common strewing herb used as a disinfectant and freshener), lemon balm or lemon verbena (retain their fragrance when dried, old saying claims “it makes the heart merry”; stimulating).
Soothing Herb Blend for eye pillow – 1½ C rice, 1 part lavender, 1 part mint (heated or chilled a great eye soother)
Sachets – 1 part mint, 1 part lemon balm and 1 part lavender
OR 2 parts lavender, 1 part chamomile, 1 part lemon balm
Bath Bag – 1 part chamomile, 1 part mint, 1 part lemon verbena
Basic process: bruise or chop fresh herbs or crumble dried herbs and place in a clear glass jar. For most fresh herbs use 4 tablespoons per cup of vinegar and for dried herbs use 1 tablespoon per cup of vinegar. Basil and tarragon are popular for vinegars and require ½ cup fresh herbs per cup of vinegar or ¼ cup dried herbs. Now cover the herbs with vinegar (a good quality vinegar like white wine or red wine vinegar. White distilled vinegar is okay to use but most likely not cider vinegar.) Use a plastic lid or cover the jar with plastic wrap before putting on the metal lid, then sit the jar in a sunny window for about one week. Sunny window – what, it’s December. Ok, here’s a second option. Heat the vinegar on the stove or in the microwave before adding it to the herbs. Important – gently heat NOT boil! And if there is time a third option – put the jar in a dark cupboard for 3-4 weeks. Lastly, strain the herbs and store in a pretty cruet or jar. Recycled jars also make good containers, remember to use glass.
Herbs to use: basil (often associated with Mediterranean cuisine); tarragon (often found in classic French sauces; warm, spicy taste); rosemary (strong flavor so pairs well with mild flavored veggies and potatoes; also the herb of friendship); lemon verbena (see above); lemon balm (also see above)
Herb infused whipped butter: plain butter is tasty but herbed butter is not only special, colorful and fragrant but scrumptious. Use it as a spread on all kinds of breads and on veggies, pasta, rice or fish and poultry.
Basic butter: let butter soften at room temperature. Unsalted butter is best because it lets the flavor of the herbs come through. Beat in the herbs by hand or with an electric mixer. Pack into molds or shape into balls, then chill for at least three hours. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator where it will last for about one month or freeze where it will be good for three months. For ½ cup (4 oz) butter use 1½ to 3 teaspoons of dried herbs. Try individual herbs or combinations such as sage, marjoram and garlic, dill and chives, or mint and lemon balm.
Herbs to use: sage (typically paired with poultry but rich flavor goes with many vegetables and meats); garlic (distinctive flavor enhances almost every dish); dill (often featured in Scandinavian dishes; add to cauliflower, green beans, carrots, squash and breads)
Basic process for salts: Use 1/4 C salt to 3 tsp dried herb. Mix and store salts in a glass container with a tight lid. Store in glass jar in cupboard to help retain color/flavor, best used in about 6 months
Note – you can use fresh herbs, but they require an added step of drying the salt/herb mixture at least overnight, or for a shorter time in the oven or dehydrator. We’ve suggested dry herbs to keep it simple. Plus it’s the season when fresh herbs can be in short supply – so dry seems like the best fit here.
Some combos to try:
Tuscan: Himalayan pink salt + rosemary, sage & thyme
Provence: coarse white salt + basil, savory, rosemary, thyme, lavender
Savory: Celtic grey salt + savory, thyme, chives, parsley, oregano
Other herbs to consider: sage, dill, cilantro
Suggestions for use: use as a dry rub on any veggies or meats; season roasted veggies such as potatoes, squash, and root veggies like carrots and parsnips; add to soups and stews near the end for a burst of flavor; mix with mashed potatoes or riced cauliflower
Basic Process for sugars:
2-3 Tbsp dried herbs (lavender, mints, sage, rosemary, or thyme are good choices)
2 C granulated sugar
Chop the herbs thoroughly and add to the sugar a little at a time; stirring after each addition. Place the sugar mixture in an air tight jar and allow to stand for 2 days in a cool, dry place. Stir the sugar every 2 - 3 days, to evenly distribute the herbal essence. Even dry herbs may still have a little moisture in them and stirring the sugar will keep it from clumping. The sugar should be ready after about 2 weeks of storing and stirring.
The sugar will have absorbed some of the herbs oils and the herbs themselves will have begun to dry. Use the sugar, herb flecks and all, to season homemade baked goodies, iced tea, lemonade, and other drinks.
You can also process the herbs and sugar in a food processor to create a finely granulated or even powdered sugar – delicious for sprinkling on top of baked goods
Decadent Herbal Skin Scrubs (sugar or salt): mixing herbs, a bit of oil, and sugar or salt produces a lovely and scrumptiously decadent scrub that smooths and moisturizes skin, especially during the cold, dry winter weather.
The Base - 1 cup sugar or sea salt of your choice
The Binder – ¼ cup of oil of your choice (or reduce oil a little bit and add up to 2 T honey for more healing moisturizing)
Dried Herbs – 1 to 2 T of your choice (see below for ideas)
Essential Oils – 10-15 drops of any combo of your choice (see below for suggestions)
Note – remember to keep your ratio of base to binders: 80% base to 20% binders
Blend your base and binder together, mixing well to coat the base thoroughly with the binder. Add any dried herbs, mixing well, then add essential oils if desired, and blend again. Scoop into jar and store in a cool, dry location and use within about 2 months.
Why choose salt over sugar or sugar over salt? Salt is more exfoliating, so especially good for rough skin on feet and elbows, while sugar can be more smoothing and especially good for delicate, sensitive skin, such as lips, hands, face or legs.
What type of oil should you select? Olive is sticky, which is very moisturizing and supportive for healing skin issues; almond & apricot are very smooth and mild scented; coconut is also very sticky and can be good for “hot” skin conditions, since it can be more solid at room temp, it might work best blended with another oil and/or some honey.
Herbs to Use: rosemary provides a nice exfoliating addition, and has that lovely resinous almost piney scent reminiscent of the holidays; calendula is well known for its skin healing properties, and it’s bright sunny orange color will add some cheer to the longer days of fall and winter; lavender is soothing and relaxing, with a light floral scent; thyme is an excellent exfoliating choice and you can get scents such as lemon or lime; mints such as peppermint and spearmint provide a brisk and refreshing scent along with a soothing tingle for tired feet and legs. All of these herbs also work as essential oils for scents. Additionally, a teaspoon of vanilla, lemon, or cinnamon extract can be a lovely scented addition to any salt or sugar scrub.