Homemade Vanilla Extract: An Awesome, Inexpensive Gift

 

If you have been reading this blog for a while, then you may remember me posting around a year ago about making homemade vanilla extract.  Have any of you been making your own vanilla?  It is seriously awesome stuff!

I wanted to write another post highlighting this extract because I know that a lot of you like to give handmade gifts as presents, and now is the perfect time to start your vanilla extract so it will be done in time to give away at Christmas this year!  It takes eight weeks for the vanilla beans to steep in the alcohol, so if you order your vanilla beans now, it will be done just in time for Christmas.

A few notes about purchasing vanilla beans and alcohol:

I highly recommend these Premium Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans from Amazon.  They are awesome, great quality, beans and they are also (by far!) the best deal that I have ever found.  For the alcohol, I just buy the cheapest that I can find at my local grocery store.  The quality of the vanilla beans is what is most important.

 

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of vanilla beans (approximately 54 beans)
  • 1 gallon vodka (two 1.75 liter bottles)

Instructions

  1. With a sharp knife, slice the vanilla beans open lengthwise, exposing the seeds. Put the beans in a gallon glass jar and fill it with the alcohol. (If you don’t have a gallon glass jar, you can divide it into whatever size you have. I usually use two half gallon canning jars, or four quart size canning jars.)
  2. After closing the jar, shake it up and place it in a dark cabinet or pantry.
  3. Allow the vanilla beans to steep in the alcohol for eight weeks or longer. Try to shake the jar at least once a week.
  4. Over time, the mixture will turn from a light colored alcohol, to a deep, dark beautiful vanilla extract.
  5. Once at least eight weeks has passed, the vanilla extract is ready to use! You can leave the vanilla beans in the jar of extract. The flavor will only get better over time. Just make sure that your vanilla beans are always covered in alcohol so you have no risk of mold forming on them.

Notes

Some people like to use different kinds of alcohol to steep the vanilla beans in. I like using vodka because it does not add any additional flavor to the extract, and it allows the vanilla to cleanly shine through. If you want other flavors in your extract, you could try using bourbon or rum instead of the vodka or in place of some of it. It will be great no matter what route you choose to go!

http://creatingnaturally.com/homemade-vanilla-extract-an-awesome-inexpensive-gift/

For packaging the vanilla up for gifts, check out these cute amber glass bottles from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Have any of you made homemade vanilla extract before?  Are you planning on making any for gift-giving this year?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

Have you ever tried chia seeds before?  Yes, these are the same chia seeds that everyone has heard about from the Chia Pets!

Well, it turns out that not only are they good for making your very own Shrek head houseplant (haha!), but they also happen to be a powerhouse of nutrition and contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon!  If you’ve never tried them before, I highly recommend them as a great, easy, way to get some more nutrition in your diet.

Not sure what to do with the chia seeds once you have them?  Join me at Keeper of the Home today as I share a delicious recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding Yum!

Made At Home Mondays: January Wrap-Up

DIY Homemade Handmade Make It Yourself

Today I thought it would be fun to highlight the three most popular posts that were linked up to Made At Home Mondays in the month of January.  All the posts that have been entered are awesome, but here are the three that you all gave the most clicks!  Make sure you check them out if you haven’t yet – there’s some good stuff in there!

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1. How to Make Homemade Cough Syrup from Jill’s Home Remedies.  “Making homemade cough syrup is easy, very effective and does not have those questionable ingredients you can’t pronounce like the syrups at the store.”

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2. Green Tea Kombucha from Christian Mommy Blogger.  “Combine Green Tea and Kombucha and you have an immune boosting, probiotic, punch-the-flu-in-the-gut, awesome drink full of….well, awesomeness.”

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3. Natural Multipurpose Citrus Cleaner from Lexie: Naturals.  “It’s super easy and effective!  So far I have used it on the kitchen counters, sink, stove, and table; I have used it to clean the bathroom counters, sinks, and toilets.  And I even used it on some tough grease in a pan I used to cook breakfast sausage.”

Share Your Made At Home Monday Post

Now it’s your turn. I would love to see a Made At Home project that you’ve done.  A recipe for something that you usually buy, a fun craft, a decorating project…the list could go on and on!  Show us what you’ve got!

These are the two easy guidelines for participation:

1. Link up to a post on your blog featuring something that you made at home! Please link directly to the post and not to your home url.

2. Please link your posts back to this blog. This is a common blog hop courtesy and will help your readers find more awesome Made At Home projects.  Thank you for spreading the word!

Easy, Homemade Chicken Gravy: Made At Home Mondays

Thise super easy, super delicious homemade chicken gravy takes less than 10 minutes to make and tastes incredible.  Once you make it you’ll never buy another can or packet of gravy again!

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Easy, Homemade Chicken Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter (or chicken fat)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth (homemade gives the best flavor)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (for me this is 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper)

Preparation:

  1. Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste.
  3. Over medium heat, continue to cook butter and flour mixture for 1-2 minutes without stirring until it is a light golden color.
  4. In a slow, steady stream, pour the chicken broth to the flour mixture, whisking the whole time.  You want to incorporate the broth into the flour mixture without letting any lumps form.
  5. Once all the broth is added to the saucepan, allow the gravy to come to a slow boil over medium heat.  Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes or until the gravy is thickened.  You may need to reduce the heat during this time to keep it at a slow boil.
  6. Remove from heat.  Whisk in salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to slightly cool, serve, and enjoy!

Notes:

  • I usually always use butter instead of chicken fat, because that’s what I have on hand.  Both kinds of fat will give it a really nice flavor, so use whatever you have.
  • You can use whole wheat flour instead of the unbleached all-purpose flour, BUT your gravy will not be as smooth and it will not get as thick.  This is one of the few things that I always use unbleached, all-purpose flour for.
  • Please try this with homemade broth!  It makes a big difference in the taste, plus homemade broth is extremely good for you!

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