The Holiday Regifting Guide
Ten Edible Presents that Give Back to the Maine Food System
The modern holiday gift guide dates to the late 1950swhen Neiman Marcus first published its Christmas Book, a luxurious selection of tortoiseshell printed all-terrain vehicles, ultimate Mardi Gras experiences, and $425,000 bottles of bespoke perfume. More recently, online gift guides routinely get hijacked by marketeers who build them around client-specific product lines to drive sales.
This edible MAINE holiday gift guide is a different beast altogether. We’ve collected 10 edible gifts, each produced locally, affordably, and sustainably; when given to loved ones here and away, they have a ripple effect on the Maine food economy. It’s a guide that turns regifting on its head.
We acknowledge this list does not cover the full inventory of food-focused gifts Maine producers offer. If you’d like our readers to know about a gift that isn’t included here, post a photo on social media with a short explanation of why it helps sustain our local food system and tag @ediblemaine.
Maine Seaweed Variety Pack
This parcel comes with three 15-ounce jars of Atlantic Sea Farms fermented raw kelp products—Sea-Chi Mild Kimchi, Sea-Beet Kraut, and Fermented Seaweed Salad. Each can be eaten in salads, sandwiches, grain bowls, or right out of the jar with a spoon. Buy this product for $30 at atlanticseafarms.com.
Why it keeps on giving: Seaweed provides an ecosystem service by pulling carbon and nitrogen from the ocean. Atlantic Sea Farms partners with lobstermen who grow kelp to help diversify their incomes in the face of warming water in the Gulf of Maine.
A Box of Maine Dried Beans
Pete and Cathy Karonis of Fairwinds Farm in Topsham are perfecting the art of growing and drying beans. To celebrate the season, they offer customizable gift boxes of three or six bags of black turtle, Jacob’s cattle, navy, pinto, red kidney, soldier, and yellow eye beans. Buy a customizable box at the Brunswick and Topsham indoor winter farmers markets for $4 per bag.
Why it keeps on giving: Bean plants are nitrogen fixers. They pull nitrogen from the air and convert it to nutrients they need, leaving the soil healthier than it was before they grew there.
Spice Tube Rack
Brunswick-based SKORDO sells plenty of spices packed in jars, and you can curate your own gift pack of four jars. But this cool presentation, which holds 20 tubes of herbs and spices, will inspire a home cook to experiment in the kitchen. Buy it fully loaded for $150 from SKORDO’s Portland stores or online at skordo.com.
Why it keeps on giving: SKORDO’s mission is to provide interesting spices to curious home cooks. Having fresh spices on hand only encourages a cook to cook more, and studies show that cooking at home means ingredients are sourced more sustainably and wasted less.
All the Hot Sauce You Can Handle
The American hot sauce market stands at the $1.6 billion mark, so you likely have a fire eater on your list. CrateFull of Maine assembles collections of Maine-made hot sauces with range in heat, sweetness, and provenance. Buy this 8-bottle gift box for $100 at cratefullofmaine.com.
Why it keeps on giving: Hot sauce sparks conversation among eaters, and the backstories about how and why these Maine hot sauces are made will keep people talking about the Maine food system, further encouraging them to buy into it.
Two Pickles and a Jam
Turtle Rock Farm, a craft cannery in Brunswick, makes great pickles and preserves and serves their gift bundles up in lovely, reusable birch rolls. Each roll accommodates two 12-ounce jars of pickles or relishes and one 9-ounce jar of spreadable fruit. We recommend the garlic scape relish, the pickled fiddleheads, and the blueberry cardamom spread. Buy this gift for $34 for pickup or delivery at turtlerockmaine.com.
Why it keeps on giving: Pickles and preserves are put up at the height of the season, a measure that both prevents waste and provides eaters a way to consume locally through the winter months.
Oysters and Caviar
Luke’s Lobster offers a holiday bundle of two dozen oysters from the Georgetown Island Oyster Co-op in Robinhood Cove and a 30-gram tin of Petrossian Baika caviar. The package also includes a knife with which to shuck the raw oysters. Buy this seasonal gift for $150 from lukeslobster.com.
Why it keeps on giving: Oysters are sustainable because they provide an ecosystem service. As filter feeders, they eat phytoplankton and remove nitrogen and phosphorus from the rivers, estuaries, and bays in which they grow, thereby improving the quality of water for the fish that swim in it.
A Jug of Maine Maple Syrup
Cooke’s Maple Farm in Brunswick offers its syrup in half-gallon glass jugs. The packaging shows off the amber loveliness inside and makes a clear statement about eschewing plastic packaging. This $48 jug is available for pickup, and Cooke’s offers smaller glass bottles of syrup at cookesmaplefarm.com to be shipped anywhere.
Why it keeps on giving: Maine producers make over 500,000 gallons of maple syrup annually. While it’s great on waffles, maple syrup can also be a local substitute for processed white sugar from away in many recipes. Having a big bottle on hand decreases the overall number of miles your food travels to reach your plate.
Seafood-Centric Spice Blends
Gryffon Ridge Spice owner Christine Pistole’s artwork lies in creating unique blends of the hundreds of herbs and spices she sells. These blends are sold alone or in themed sets. We settled on the Seafood Lovers Gift Package that includes Casco Bay Seasoning, good for strong-tasting fish like salmon and mackerel; the light and citrusy Fair Winds Fish Seasoning; Merrymeeting Bay Seasoning, good for shellfish boils; and Seven Seas Seasoning, a tangy blend with a mild bite. Buy this bundle for $27 at gryffonridge.com.
Why it keeps on giving: With the pandemic slowing down restaurant sales—where upwards of 90% of all seafood in America is consumed—Gulf of Maine fishermen need home cooks’ help. This gift will help cooks help themselves to more Maine seafood.
Maine Cheese Subscription
Local Goods Gathered is a clearinghouse for Maine-made artisan cheese. Monthly deliveries can be sent anywhere in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions and comprise three cheeses amounting to 1.5 pounds in weight. The recipient gets introduced to three Maine cheesemakers with each box. Also included is a changing array of local goods that pair well with the cheese including Maine-made crackers, jams, honey, syrups and even chocolate as the holidays approach. One-, three-, and six-month packages can be purchased at localgoodsgathered.com for $49, $132, and $249, respectively.
Why it keeps on giving: Local Goods Gathered was founded earlier this year to create options for Maine cheesemakers with excess cheese due to the closures of markets and restaurants. A monthly subscription gives a good home to this perfectly ripe cheese and supports Maine farms and creameries. A portion of each sale is donated to the Maine Cheese Guild to support advocacy for and education of cheesemakers.
Taste of Summertime Maine
Everyone loves lobster. It’s best in Maine, of course. But if your loved ones can’t get here, send some right to their door. The Lobster Shop, an employee-owned outfit based in Portland, will ship a pound of fresh Maine lobster claws and knuckles, six traditional hot dog buns, and a packet of its secret spice mix anywhere you need it. Buy this lobster roll kit for $75 from thelobstershop.com.
Why it keeps on giving: Given warming waters, trade tariffs, and a continuing pandemic that keeps Maine restaurants operating below capacity, Maine lobstermen need more Americans eating more lobster more often.
Christine has lived in many places, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, England and France. But her professional world has consistently been grounded in just two: in journalism and in the kitchen. Throughout her 30-year writing career, she’s covered sports, politics, business and technology. But for the past 10 years after completing culinary school, she’s focused on food. Her words and recipes about eating locally and sustainably have appeared in publications from The Portland Press Herald to Fine Cooking. Her award-winning cookbook Green Plate Special (link is: https://www.amazon.com/Green-Plate-Special-Sustainable-Delicious/dp/1944762140) was published in 2017. When she’s not laboring over a cutting board or a keyboard, she’s learning from her two semi-adult children, a community of food-minded friends, hundreds of productive Maine farmers, thousands of innovative chefs near and far, and her 30,000 honeybees.