Art of Soap Making with Herbs and Edible Flowers
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Drifting backwards through the mists of time, Ancient Sumerians made a soap-like substance that used fats, ashes, and water thousands of years ago, with directions inscribed on cuneiform tablets. Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, and other cultures used something similar and, 2,000 years ago, people in Gaul used soap to try to provide a hint of red in a person’s hair.
For the most part, the earliest versions of soap were used to clean wool before dyeing it, not to clean people’s skin—and it wasn’t until perhaps the 16th century that soap began to be considered a desirable luxury, with Italians probably being the first culture to experiment with perfumed varieties. After that concept was introduced, the next few hundred years saw advances in soap making—and now, in 2020, it’s also being made available at the Culinary Vegetable Institute.
“The same beautiful flowers that are used in chef’s recipes are now available as part of our Blossom Bar Soap,” shares Chef Jamie Simpson. “Hand made in Amish country, it uses the marigolds, bachelor buttons, fennel, and celery that’s grown with love on our grounds.”
As an FYI, the first batch of the soap was made entirely in-house by the CVI team. Although it clearly could be done this way, it would not be scalable. So, we grow the flowers. We collaborate with Amish partners to have it made. We package the soap. We label the package. You try it and let us know what you think!
The CVI’s involvement in soap making is a natural outgrowth of Jamie’s belief—and that of his team—that’s it’s crucial to prevent food waste. That belief, as this soap shows, extends to sustainably managing our edible flowers and herbs.
Background of the Idea
There’s an ebb and flow to agriculture, as the crops of one season transition into the next—and changes to our lives because of COVID-19 have created an ebb and flow of the demand for edible flowers. Chef Tristan Acevedo immediately began brainstorming ways to highlight our use of herbs and edible flowers in new and intriguing ways during any “ebb” moments.
“We keep the flowers growing,” Jamie explains, “so we’re always ready to serve our chefs. Then, when there’s an overflow, we creatively use them in different ways, which now includes soap making. We’re also in the early stages of a collaboration to make hand salve out of lemon verbena.”
So, here’s an important question. Where can you find this soap?
Spacious Chef’s Suite
At the Culinary Vegetable Institute, you have the opportunity to stay in our unique chef’s suite (RSVP at Airbnb.com). You can luxuriate in our rustic yet modern suite, crafted from the oak, sycamore, and walnut forests surrounding us.
The suite features a king-sized bed, indoor fireplace (and air conditioning), a jacuzzi, a balcony overlooking the natural beauty of the CVI grounds and other wonderful comforts—and, of course, our floral and herbal soap is in the bathroom.
You’ll enjoy a peaceful getaway with birds and butterflies, along with a thoughtfully curated farmhouse breakfast basket, a bottle of wine from our cellars, and much more. During your stay, if you want to pick your own fresh herbs from our grounds to use in the suite’s kitchen, you can simply go outside and help yourself. Here’s even more about the chef suite’s features.
Farmer Jones Farm Seasonal Market
If you’re in the area, this handmade floral/herbal soap is also available at our farm market, which is located at The Chef’s Garden at the corner of Scheid and Huron-Avery in Huron, Ohio. This farm market features the best of the seasonal harvest.
More About Our Soap’s Availability
You can also find it in our online shop. We’re getting good feedback and we’ll announce other ways you can get our handmade soap soon!
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