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.
- 1/2 pound of vanilla beans (approximately 54 beans)
- 1 gallon vodka (two 1.75 liter bottles)
- 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.)
- After closing the jar, shake it up and place it in a dark cabinet or pantry.
- Allow the vanilla beans to steep in the alcohol for eight weeks or longer. Try to shake the jar at least once a week.
- Over time, the mixture will turn from a light colored alcohol, to a deep, dark beautiful vanilla extract.
- 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.
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!
For packaging the vanilla up for gifts, check out these cute amber glass bottles from Mountain Rose Herbs.