5.10.2011

Fruit and Herb Soaps

My sage plant, though beautiful with its velvety leaves and purple blossoms, is starting to take over its pot. I love sage, but I don't think I would use as many leaves as it has now in an entire year- and it's still growing! I was wondering what to do with it until I saw this article in last month's Martha Stewart Magazine. With very few ingredients you can make beautiful handmade soaps in the blink of an eye- it was the perfect thing to do with my herb forest!


From citrus fruits to berries to fragrant herbs, there are endless possibilities for delicious soap combinations. The article shows beautiful soaps made with thyme, basil, mint, sage, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry. I decided try a few mixtures- sage, sage and lavender and sage and grapefruit. All sound wonderful! To begin, you simply puree the herb you are using in the food processor, adding water as needed, and wring out excess moisture using coffee filters. While berries can be added whole, citrus fruit must be zested. I did cheat a little and picked up some lavender fragrance at the craft store!
For soap molds, you can use any container you have around the house. I cut the tops off cream cartons, but you can use plastic containers as well.
 Fill the clean containers with water to the level you would like to pour the soap, then measure this amount. Melt the soap in the microwave in 30 minute bursts, adding more soap as necessary until you have the amount needed to fill the mold.
Now for the fun part! After the soap has cooled just slightly, stir in your ingredients of choice. Martha suggests about 1 teaspoon of puree or zest per cup of soap, but you can adjust it to your liking. For berries- just eyeball it! Stir the mixture frequently until it has cooled so that the ingredients are evenly dispersed.
Dry your molds well, spray them with cooking spray, and pour in the soap. To eliminate bubbles, you can spray the top with alcohol but I skipped this step. Let cool for 20 minutes to one hour then freeze for two hours to help loosen the soap from the mold. After removing from the molds you can trim up the edges with a knife or slice it into smaller pieces.
I found the soap with only sage not very fragrant. Next time I would add more herb or maybe some additional essential oils. The soaps with the grapefruit and lavender fragrance, however turned out really well. I would also like to experiment with an olive oil soap base and the other herbs in my garden.
Now you have beautiful, handmade soaps that make great gifts. Next time your herb garden is overflowing, you know what to do!

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