Several months ago, I was browsing around on One Pretty Thing ~ one of my favorite sites for hand made gift ideas ~ when I came across an idea for homemade vanilla extract. YUM! I love to bake and have several foodie friends who I know would love this and since the holidays are fast approaching and you need time to make this, I thought I'd start now.
The original site is here and I loved that she linked to sources on where to buy things like vanilla beans and bottles to put the finished product in (even has some cute labels that are free to print) and included recipes for vanilla sugar and spiced nuts using both the sugar and the extract. Also, there are a lot of vanilla extract recipes on the net if you want to experiment. Here's what I did...
I found a place on ebay ~ Vanilla Products USA ~ that has great prices on the beans. I got a pound of extract grade Bourbon vanilla beans grown in Papua New Guinea for $19.95 plus 10 free extract grade Tahitian vanilla beans. Shipping was $5. I got the vodka from Trader Joe's (you don't need a top shelf brand for making extract unless you want to use it) for $10.99, approximately 52 oz in a bottle which is enough for two large Mason jars (24oz each then extra to top off the jars).
Most of the recipes I found called for 3 vanilla beans per cup of vodka (or rum or bourbon, etc.). I want a deep, rich vanilla extract so doubled this - 6 beans per cup. I split 4 of the beans (per jar) down the center keeping them in tact by starting my cut about 3/4" from the top of the bean then finished with 10 uncut beans in the jar.
I filled the washed Mason jars with vodka and put the lids on them which I sterilized in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
I also made some using Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum because I had a bottle of it in my cupboard that we'll probably never drink. For that, I just opened the bottle and dropped the beans in. I think this extract will have a very interesting flavor!
Now....I wait. I'm storing the jars in my pantry and will give them a shake from time-to-time. Come December, it should be perfect. I'll be making vanilla sugar as well (stay tuned for that post) but so far, all of the recipes I've found say two weeks. I'll start it in November cause I'm a rebel and what's the point of making it if the flavor is only subtle?
These will make great gifts and a lot of them too! I'll be sure to post about the finished product so make sure you check back!
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