Turn Garden Abudance Into Handmade Soap

Reader Contribution by Sarah Hart Morgan
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Overgrown cucumbers are great for making soap.
Photo by Sarah Hart Morgan

We all know canning, freezing, and drying are the best ways to use and store the abundance from our gardens. But have you ever thought of making soap with your garden abundance? This time of year is my favorite; the garden is overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, and herbs. But at some point in late August, early September I am frankly, quite tired of washing, cutting, milling, canning, and cleaning up from a day spent of processing vegetables. Dont’ get me wrong, I love being able to grow my own food, to share with others, and put away enough for the winter months but I also love experimenting with different ways to use my garden abundance.  

I love making summer soaps. My creative juices get flowing, mixing oils that have infused with different flowers and herbs from my garden, I feel like a witch over my cauldron of magic potion as I mix a little of this and a little of that together to make something wonderful. In addition to infused oils, I absolutely love using vegetables in my soaps, especially tomato and cucumber! It’s a great way to use those cucumbers that were hiding under leaves and have gotten too big to eat or can. It’s an easy way to use up those bruised, split, or overripe tomatoes too.

Heirloom tomato
Photo by Sarah Hart Morgan

Heirloom Tomato Cold-Process Soap Formula

Below, is the formula for my Heirloom Tomato Cold Process Soap formula from my book, Forrest + Thyme Apothecary: simple skincare formulas you can make uniquely your own. You can apply the same formula and use blended cucumbers instead. I like to freeze my cukes before blending as it helps to pull all the moisture out for easy blending. Just be sure to filter out seeds, pulp, and skin from both vegetables prior to mixing with the lye.

  • 7% Superfat
  • Olive Oil 51%
  • Shea Butter (unrefined) 22%
  • Coconut Oil (76 degrees) 20%
  • Castor Oil 7%
  • Add 1.5% of total oils of melted beeswax at a light trace
  • *Substitute blended and strained tomato juice for the water
  • A small amount of turmeric for color (use a light amount as turmeric can dye your skin if used too much)
  • 1T Bentonite Clay (my mold makes about 14 bars of soap, you can adjust this amount to suit your own needs
  • *Run recipe through a soap calculator to determine the correct lye and liquid ratios for your soap holder.
  • **10% Water Discount

Cold-process homemade soap
Photo by Sarah Hart Morgan

Be sure to search through the Mother Earth News database for instructions on how to make cold process soap if you’ve never tried before. With a few safety precautions it’s an easy and fun process to make your own handmade soaps that are also great for your skin.

Sarah Hart Morgan is an artist, photographer, teacher, and author ofForrest + Thyme Apothecary: simple skin care formulas you can make uniquely your own. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley, where she works with foraged plants in her skincare and apothecary products, camera-less photography, using plants as a developing agent in film photography, and creating natural inks for painting. Connect with Sarah onher website, Instagram, FacebookandPinterest. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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