Whether you’re looking to save time, money, or impress your guests when they come round for a barbecue this summer, we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite, nifty ideas to help you get creative around your home and garden…
Herb and fruit ice cubes are… cool
Freezing fresh fruit and herbs in ice trays is great for so many reasons, not least because they look so colourful.
It’s a good time-saver; freezing fresh fruit means you can store it in your freezer for a couple of months, taking ice cubes out as and when you need them – add them to water for a chilled, refreshing burst of flavour, use them in smoothies for an icy blast and, of course, add them to cocktails for a classy decoration.
You can also freeze fresh herbs in the same way. Simply put a small amount of fresh herbs into an ice tray and pour water over them, making sure that as much of the herbs are covered as possible and not sticking out. Then store in the freezer until you need them – and drop the ice cubes in as you’re cooking!
Ice Lollies with a twist
Gin & Tonic ice lollies… one of the ultimate summer treats, and perfect for a garden party.
You will need:
- 100ml gin
- 100ml lime juice
- 600ml tonic water
- 50ml water
- 50g caster sugar
- Cucumber slices
Mix all the ingredients together, pour the liquid into your ice lolly moulds and freeze. The amount of gin used may not sound like much but remember that alcohol does not freeze at the same temperature as water, so adding more than 100ml will mean your ice lollies never freeze completely.
Once the liquid has turned slushy in the moulds, add cucumber slices to each one to prevent them from sinking to the bottom (or you can add slices of lime, a bit more of a faff to eat but they look good!).
Likewise, if you’re using wooden sticks, don’t stick them in until the lollies have solidified a little first.
The sweet smell of Lavender
Lavender is an evergreen shrub that can tolerate drought, and thrives in sunny areas of the garden. It will establish itself and spread slowly, producing hundreds of beautifully-scented flowers every year.
It also has many uses thanks to its aromatic properties. You can cut lavender around late May or early June, or just as the buds are beginning to flower. Make sure you keep the stems long as you cut, and cut off enough to fit a bunch in your hand.
Tie the bunch together with a rubber band (don’t use string because the plant shrinks slightly as it dries) and hang in a cool, draughty place in your home. After a few days, it should be dry and you can place it around your home in vases or use it to make potpourri.
To do this, remove all stems and dead leaves, leaving only the flower buds behind. Then using a pestle and mortar, a rolling pin, or your hands – crush the buds so that they crumble into little pieces. Then, place in a decorative container, add a few drops of essential lavender oil and mix together well. That’s it!
You could also add other things to your potpourri such as pine cones, dried orange peel or dried rose petals.